In her nomadic, global life, Helene Joy didn’t expected forever. She was lucky to count on tomorrow.
Then she found the essence of stability – Canadians in general and “Murdoch Mysteries” in particular.
That amiable series (shown here with Joy and Yanick Bisson) has its 200th episode Saturday on cable’s Ovation. The episode is filled with famous names – not the actors, but the characters: Edison and Einstein, Carnegie and Curie and more.
“Murdoch” has been like that from the start. Set in Toronto in the early 1900s, it toys with history’s people and its inventions. “It definitely seemed original to me …. It seemed smart,” Joy said by phone.
But 200 episodes? No one expected that.
Not Bisson, who stars as William Murdoch, a police detective. “I thought, ‘Wow, this will be a good couple years …. I’ll learn something and then move on,’” he said last year. “I didn’t really anticipate that … the steady flow of historical events just doesn’t stop.”
And not Joy, who is Dr. Julia Ogden, Murdoch’s love interest, wife and crime-solving colleague.
He dabbles in what was then high-tech. “We’re actually creating those things, tongue-in-cheek, a little bit,” Bisson said. “Fax machines, cellular service – obviously with a twist.”
And she ran the mortuary until recently. Now she struggles with the problems of long-ago surgeons. “The fact that they don’t wear gloves is quite disgusting,” Joy said.
It was a difficult time for a female surgeon … or a female anything.
“The level of limitations is amazing,” Joy said. “Just the physical fact of wearing a corset. One of the most limiting factors is that you just can’t breathe. It’s accumulative; everything becomes harder.”
But it’s a great role to have, and a steady one — 13 years, so far. That contrasts with her mobile past.
As a teen, Joy toured Europe with a theater company and attended the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts in her home town of Perth, winning the best-performer award. She got some Australian TV roles, was “a terrible waitress,” worked as a caregiver … and switched continents.
“It wasn’t a work-related decision,” Joy said. “It was boy-related.”
Her then-boyfriend, also an actor, wanted to try new turf. “We went to Los Angeles and then to Vancouver and I said, ‘This is much better.’”
California was another world, but Canada felt like home. The romance didn’t last, but the career did. Joy had guest roles in American shows and recurring ones in Canadian series.
In a Murdoch movie, she played “a ruthless person, really evil.” Maureen Jennings, author of the Murdoch novels, was impressed; she suggested her for Dr. Ogden when the series was planned.
So Joy – who used to forget orders as a waitress – found herself remembering tangled medical jargon. “I can learn it and regurgitate it, but after that, it’s gone.”
More important was the hesitant doctor/detective romance. “The biggest fear,” she said, “was that they would get together and then people would lose interest.”
They haven’t. Murdoch and Ogden finally married in episode No. 100. By the end of this season, they’ll be at 207, with no signs of ending. By TV standards, this is forever.
– “Murdoch Mysteries,” 7 and 8 p.m. ET Saturdays, Ovation cable channel.
– The 7 p.m. episode on March 7 is No. 200;it returns many of the historical figures who have been on the show
– All 13 seasons are also on www.acorn.tv, a streaming service that focues on the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and beyond