During the holidays, our TV tastes might mellow a tad.
We don’t need to probe the darkest recesses of our souls. We might settle for a decent drama about some nice folks.
So it’s logical that a streaming service (www.acorn.tv) is releasing the new “Murdoch Mysteries” season on Christmas Day.
This is nice-guy television. It’s pleasant, precise and likable; in short, it’s Canadian.
And it’s been around forever; this is the 13th season for the show. If it were an American show, it would apparently be No. 8 on the all-time list of longest-running, non-anthology drama hours.
The setting is Toronto in (when the show began) 1895. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson, shown at left) is a police detective, a handsome chap with impeccable clothes and manners. He’s a modernist; you can see that in the inventions he dabbles in … or in his marriage to Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) … or in their home.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it confounds visitors. “Where are the rooms?” some ask.
And yes, Wright was portrayed. So were many others, from Buffalo Bill to Winston Churchill, from Annie Oakley and the Wright Brothers to the enemies Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
“Murdoch Mysteries” likes to used historical people and events.
The season’s first two episodes both deal with feminism. In the first, there’s a deadly explosion at a suffrage rally. (Canadian women got the vote in federal elections in 1918, two years before Americans.) In the second, a patient insists on a male surgeon.
That second episode also involves labor unrest and adds an important character to the series. Both hours have modestly interesting mysteries, each with a neat twist.
The third one finally gets to the inventiveness of Murdoch … and of the series itself. The murder victim is someone who seemingly hasn’t aged in a decade; the detective, of course, has created the way-early version of facial recognition.
That episode is quite clever, the first two aren’t bad … and there are 10 more this season.
Overall, “Murdoch” – which has also aired on the Ovation cable channel – has had 201 episodes so far. Some times, nice guys do win, especially if they’re clever Canadians.