22 Baker Street? Try 2 Wilton Street near Jarvis and the Esplanade. You’ll find Toronto’s most famous detective William Murdoch in Station House No.4. Murdoch Mysteries, the TV show inspired from the books of Maureen Jennings, follows the life of William Murdoch, a fictional detective working for the Toronto Constabulary in the late Victorian Era (from 1895 onwards). At the brink of powerful scientific and cultural changes daunting Toronto and the world, Murdoch Mysteries is a murder mystery show set in a time when a young Toronto plunges into the world stage.
William Murdoch isn’t your average copper; he is a man of science and an engineer by interest. His wife Julia mentions that if he was ever serious about it, “He’d give Mr. Tesla a run for his money.” With a clear methodical approach to problem solving, Murdoch doesn’t let criminals get away easily. Using a bunch of nifty gadgets, Murdoch employs scientific applications to catch criminals. From UV light machines and early periscopes, to making his own primitive GPS, Murdoch definitely challenges the traditional methods of 19th century policing. Partnered with his colleague-turned-wife Dr. Julia Ogden, the city coroner, a psychiatrist, and surgeon; Murdoch benefits from the forefront of medical and pathological techniques to solve crimes.Together, they make an unstoppable crime-solving duo in Toronto ”The Good”.
But what is Sherlock without his Watson? Constable George Crabtree, well known for his theories on mummies, zombies, Venusians, vampires, and writing, is Murdoch’s trusty sidekick in all his cases. Not an episode goes by without Murdoch’s line, “George, what have you?” when he comes back with the clues he needs to crack the case. The leader of the group is inspector Thomas Brackenreid, a chap from Yorkshire, England (who loves a nee bit of scotch during the day), is a steadfast tough loving leader for Station House No.4.
19th Century Toronto “The Good” known back then for lower crime rates and holding Victorian morals is anything but seasoned. At a point where it is propelled into the world stage, it is without doubt a revolutionary time. Murdoch is no run of the mill commoner. Nay, he is probably one of few to meet the likes of Nikola Tesla, young Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Clara Brett Martin, and many, many more. If you think that’s cool, our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a scene on the show and asked the character, Wilfred Laurier, “And who might you be?” A real Spider-Man pointing meme there. Murdoch Mysteries is one of few productions in over a decade at the time to get clearance to film inside the Ontario Legislative Building right next to U of T.
Not only collaborating with famous people, Murdoch has been entrusted on matters of National Security by the Canadian Government numerous times. One notable instance involved some American spies who breathe manifest destiny. He’s also saved US President Teddy Rosevelt’s life a couple of times.
Moving on from the Victorian Era into the Edwardian Era, the show highlights a plethora of cultural changes and social movements arising. Noteworthy is the women’s suffrage movement occuring in Toronto and around the world. Women coming together to get the right to vote and making the first stride by placing Margaret Haile on the ballot in the 1902 provincial election highlights just one of many ways the show immerses viewers in 19th Century Toronto that’s so true to life.
A Canadian production of a crime show set in Toronto, with a complete picture of the culture and vanguard of Toronto over 100 years ago, Murdoch Mysteries is definitely a show to add to your list on Netflix or Prime Video. I’d recommend starting to watch ASAP as there are fifteen seasons of this gem. Don’t forget to go on Twitter and tweet #MurdochMysteries on Mondays between 8 and 9 pm when the new episode airs. See you at Station House No.4!