List of Seasons
|Season||Episodes||First Aired||Last Aired||Network|
|1||13||January 20, 2008||April 13, 2008||Bravo!|
|2||13||February 10, 2009||May 27, 2009||CityTv|
|3||13||March 14, 2010||June 13, 2010||CityTv|
|4||13||June 7, 2011||August 31, 2011||CityTv|
|5||13||June 6, 2012||August 28, 2012||CityTv|
|6||13||January 7, 2013||April 15, 2013||CBC|
|7||18||September 30, 2013||April 7, 2014||CBC|
|8||18||October 6, 2014||March 30, 2015||CBC|
The series takes place in Toronto starting in 1895 and follows Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) of the Toronto Constabulary, who solves many of his cases using methods of detection that were unusual at the time. These methods include fingerprinting (referred to as "finger marks" in the series), blood testing, surveillance, and trace evidence.
Some episodes feature anachronistic technology whereby Murdoch sometimes uses the existing technology of his time to improvise a crude prototype of a technology that would be more readily recognizable to the show's 21st-century audience. In one episode, for instance, he creates a primitive version of sonar to locate a sunken ship in Lake Ontario. In another, he effectively invents wire-tapping. In still another, a foreign police officer has a photograph that Murdoch needs as evidence, so Murdoch asks the other officer to overlay the photograph with a grid numerically coded for the colour in each square, and to transmit the numerical data to Murdoch via telegraph — with the end result that the foreign officer has essentially sent Murdoch a bitmap image they call a "facsimile" — a telefax.
Detective Murdoch is assisted by the three other main characters: Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), Doctor Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), and the inexperienced but eager Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), who aspires to be a mystery-novel writer. Brackenreid, Murdoch's immediate superior, is a blunt and sceptical Yorkshireman with a fondness for whisky, and prefers conventional methods of detection over Murdoch's eccentric methods, though he is typically pleased and proud when Murdoch is successful despite the odds. Crabtree is often unable to grasp the more advanced methods, but his enthusiasm and loyalty make him a good assistant. Like Crabtree, Dr. Ogden is a great supporter of Murdoch's methods. Her skill in pathology usually helps by revealing a great deal of useful evidence to aid Murdoch in solving cases. Throughout the series, Murdoch's growing infatuation with her, and his inability to express his feelings, provide a light subplot. In the fifth season, after Dr. Ogden is married to Dr. Darcy Garland (a colleague she met in Buffalo), a new doctor is introduced, Doctor Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly). She and George Crabtree show some romantic interest in each other.
Real history is an important element in most episodes, and the plots, though fictitious, sometimes involve real people, such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, H G Wells, Nikola Tesla, Wilfrid Laurier, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Queen Victoria, Oliver Mowat, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Henry Ford, Sir Winston Churchill, Bat Masterson, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison. Future events are often foreshadowed. For example, it is implied that secret British-American government co-operation has produced a highly advanced aircraft similar to an airship, and Crabtree and Murdoch allude to the building of a secret government facility in Nevada and New Mexico "at Concession 51" (an allusion to Area 51). Characters also refer to actual inventions of the 19th century and extrapolate from them to future inventions such as microwave ovens, night-vision goggles, computers, the games "Cluedo" (marketed as "Clue" in the U.S.) and "Hangman", the toy Silly Putty, and a silencer for small arms.
Another underlying theme of the series involves the fact that Murdoch is a Roman Catholic in what was at the time a predominantly Protestant city, and the prejudices that he occasionally encounters as a result.
Detective William Henry Murdoch
Detective Murdoch, who is portrayed by Peter Outerbridge in the TV movies and by Yannick Bisson in the series, is an intelligent, observant detective who uses unusual (for the time) techniques such as blood testing and fingerprinting. Throughout the series it is revealed he comes from Nova Scotia and is a devout Roman Catholic. Due to being educated by Jesuit Priests, Murdoch is fluent in French. In one episode it is revealed that he believes that his father beat his mother and may have indirectly caused her death, although this was proven incorrect. Following that incident, he was taken to live in an orphanage.
Even though very logical, skeptical, observant, scientific and clear-headed with a photographic memory, these become an issue when he needs to connect with people on an emotional level, something he finds difficult. Often his unusual techniques and unbiased opinions of people lead him to clash with Brackenreid (even though they work together well).
Murdoch often consults on cases with Ogden, with whom he is infatuated, although he did not attempt a relationship with her until the first half of the second season. As the season progressed an argument over beliefs and past decisions made by Ogden split up the couple for a time, during which time Murdoch pursued a relationship with Enid Jones. However, he and Ogden rekindled their relationship during the season two finale on the advice of his half-brother (see below), and it becomes "public" (despite everyone already knowing about it) in the first episode of season 3.Ogden and Murdoch got engaged in the finale of season 7 and are married in the fourth episode of season 8.
In the season two finale it is revealed his father had another son, Jasper Linney (of whom Murdoch knew nothing), before marrying Murdoch's mother. Jasper is a sergeant in the North-West Mounted Police and his mannerisms, interests and investigative techniques are similar to those of Murdoch's own and the two prove successful in working together to solve a gold mining scam case. In the fourth season episode Voices, it is revealed that Murdoch has a younger sister, Susanna, who is a nun living in Toronto briefly before returning to her convent in Montreal when it is revealed she is terminally ill. Their conversations reveal that they had an Aunt, whose home he left at seventeen, in order to go work at a logging camp. This episode also mentions that Murdoch's father was still alive two years prior and lives in Western Canada.
In season one episode four it is revealed that Murdoch once had a fiancée, Liza Milner. She died a year prior of consumption.
Chief Inspector Thomas Charles Brackenreid
Inspector Brackenreid, who is portrayed by Colm Meaney in the TV movies and in the TV series by Thomas Craig, is a married man of about forty, fond of the theatre and a good drink. He is the head of the stationhouse and does most of the interrogating, often forming opinions on a suspect because of personal impressions or their social standing. Quick to anger and tenacious, with a sarcastic sense of humour, he is better at traditional "coppering" and is very proud of his job, and what he feels is his duty to protect the city.
While he often disagrees with Murdoch's methods, he uses them when he feels they have merit, though he has little time for Crabtree until the second half of the fifth season where he takes him directly under his wings and actually seems to care deeply for him. He is shown to care for Murdoch and know his mannerisms well enough to know when he is pining, and advises him to do something about it.
Throughout the second season Brackenreid is forced to hide his drinking habits from his wife who joined the temperance movement.
In the third season, it is revealed that Breckenreid is a Freemason, along with Crabtree, who is of higher rank.
Brackenreid is from Yorkshire, and he has two young sons with his wife. Before becoming a policeman he served in the British Army, and fought in Afghanistan.
Dr. Julia Ogden
Doctor Ogden, who is portrayed by Keeley Hawes in the TV movies and by Hélène Joy in the TV series, attended Bishop's University and is a skilled pathologist and medical examiner. (In 1894, a woman did graduate from Bishop's University and become a skilled pathologist: Dr. Maude Abbott.) The first of two sisters, Dr. Ogden was a tomboy in her youth and has a criminal record for skinny dipping with some university colleagues (episode 2.04). Her mother is dead, and she has a strained relationship with her father. She enjoys tennis, reading, cycling and attending the theatre. Through her family connections, she is quite well known in Toronto's upper class society (episode 1.08). Dr. Ogden is often consulted on cases by Murdoch and is able to provide valuable insights into many cases. They, along with Constable Crabtree, enjoy the intellectual puzzles that many murder mysteries present.
In the first season, she and Murdoch begin a tentative romantic relationship. In episode 2.06, Dr. Ogden tells Murdoch that she became pregnant when in university and terminated it. (Abortion in Canada was illegal during 1869-1969.) As Murdoch struggles to come to terms with this knowledge, Ogden decides to end their relationship, believing that, due to his Catholicism, he will never accept what she did or that she still feels it was the right decision. Their relationship is awkward until the end of the final episode of season 2 when Dr. Ogden agrees to discuss restarting the relationship.
At the end of Season 3, she leaves the Constabulary to go work in a children's hospital in Buffalo, New York. It is revealed that she cannot give birth to a child due to the previous abortion, and for this reason she decides to terminate her relationship with Murdoch. Murdoch tries to stop her leaving and intends to propose to her despite knowing about her condition, but arrives late at the train station. (In a daydream that he has about proposing, he intends to tell her that he does want a family, but that they can adopt. However, he never has this conversation with her in real life, and she leaves Toronto not knowing about his intentions for either marriage or family.)
Dr. Ogden does not return to work in Toronto at the start of season 4, but Murdoch writes to her to help solve a case. She does not appear in episode 2, but does appear in episode 3 (Buffalo Shuffle), where Yannick Bisson makes his directing debut. Murdoch brings the engagement ring with the intention of proposing, but Dr. Ogden reveals that she is already engaged to a doctor working at the children's hospital in Buffalo. She returns to her old position in Toronto several episodes later. Her fiancé takes a position at a Toronto hospital to be with her. In the last episode Julia marries Dr. Darcy Garland, despite her affection for Murdoch.
At the beginning of the season 5 (Back and to the Left), however, she terminates her employment in the City Morgue and starts her own private practice in Toronto, leaving the work to her protégée, Dr. Grace. Julia states that with her feelings towards Murdoch maintaining their professional relationship would jeopardize her marriage. Later on in the series she actively participates in a birth-control campaign, which complicates her husband's social position and even leads to her arrest. At the end of the season, she and Darcy separate.
In season 6, Julia is working as a psychiatrist, often assisting Murdoch with his cases. She is actively trying to divorce Darcy and is framed for his murder at the end of the season, though Murdoch uncovers the real killer and clears her name barely in time to prevent her execution by hanging. The trauma of her experience and guilt feelings cause her to withdraw from Murdoch at the Season 6 finale, but by the beginning of Season 7 their relationship seems to be back on track.
Constable George Crabtree
Murdoch's assistant Constable Crabtree, portrayed by Matthew MacFadzean in the TV movies and by Jonny Harris in the TV series, however inexperienced, often provides useful insights into cases and does much of the forensic legwork collecting evidence. He is eager, but has yet to master Murdoch's more advanced scientific skills. He isn't much of a serious character, because he often says random things that he thinks will help Murdoch solve the case, but really do not. Such as "But sometimes, sir, you can wake up from one dream into another. Like one time I had a dream that I was pulling plums out of my navel, and I woke up, and there was a plum sticking out of my navel." Crabtree often has ideas for commercial uses for Murdoch's inventions. Murdoch usually dismisses them as absurd, but they often prefigure real successful products. Crabtree also aspires to be a mystery novelist. His first novel, Curse of the Lost Pharaoh, is published in season 5. (Concurrently with that season, The Curse of the Lost Pharaoh also aired on Citytv.com as a mixed live action/animation web series dramatizing the plot of Crabtree's manuscript.)
He is very loyal to Murdoch, willing to threaten one of Ogden's suitors when Murdoch asked him to investigate him; he also knows Murdoch's mannerisms rather well. While Brackenreid regards Crabtree as an idiot, Crabtree often provides unexpected insight into cases.
Crabtree revealed in one episode ("Big Murderer On Campus") that he did not know who his biological mother was and was left on the doorstep of a church and taken in by the family there. He was later re-united with his mother at the end of the episode after taking part in a plan to uncover the murderer of a professor. Crabtree also frequently refers to his Aunts, each of whom seems to be named after a variety of flower. In the seventh season episode "Republic of Murdoch", it is revealed that these Aunts are prostitutes who lived in a house rented to them by the Reverend who became Crabtree's guardian after he was abandoned.
In the third season, it is revealed that Crabtree is a Freemason, along with Brackenreid, and turns out to be of higher rank than the inspector.
Dr. Emily Grace
Portrayed by Georgina Reilly, she is the new coroner who joins the morgue in season 5 as Dr. Ogden leaves to set up her private practice, initially described as her "protégé". She is interested in spiritualism and is a love interest for Constable Crabtree. She and George become good friends in season 6 and shared a kiss in season 6 episode 7. In season 7, episode 13, George breaks up with her after she kissed Leslie Garland. Even after she ends things with Leslie, George is quite distant with her. Emily joins the Suffrage movement in season 8 and enters a romance with Lilian Moss. She is a regular character starting in season 6.
Major Recurring Characters
Portrayed by Michael Seater, he is Murdoch's nemesis. Gillies is a criminal genius and prides himself on always being one step ahead of Detective Murdoch. He views murder as "a game" and often pays people to carry out jobs and later killing them in order for their silence. He was killed in season 7 by jumping off a bridge to escape from Murdoch.
Dr. Llewellyn Francis
Dr. Francis, portrayed by Paul Rhys, is a bad tempered pathologist from Scotland Yard, who replaces Dr. Odgen who left for a job in Buffalo, New York. He is portrayed as cold and often dismissive in his manner. His character always clashes with Murdoch.
Constable Henry Higgins
Portrayed by Lachlan Murdoch. In season 1 and 2 episodes he does not say much if anything at all, though he has become a larger part of the plot since season 3. He is sometimes known as George Crabtree's assistant. He speaks some French, since his mother is from Gaspé (Season 2 Ep.9 "Convalescence").
Constable Slugger Jackson
Portrayed by Kristian Bruun. A constable who first appeared in season 5 as a baseball player for Station House 5 and who later appeared as a constable for Station House 4 in season 6. He appeared as a regular character beginning in season 7.
James and Sally Pendrick
James (portrayed by Peter Stebbings) and his wife Sally (portrayed by Kate Greenhouse) are the owners of the tallest building in Toronto; at 11 stories tall, it is quite a view. The Pendricks are advocates of eugenics. James is an engineer and inventor. They own Rembrandt's painting Bathsheba at Her Bath, valued around $40 000, which is stolen in an episode in Season 3. Sally is an advocate of modern art, and gives Murdoch an avant-garde nude portrait of herself. The Pendrick family played a big part in the plot over the 2nd part of season 3. Indeed, James Pendrick was suspected by Murdoch of murder, or of being an accomplice to various crimes, in 4 of the 5 cases in which he was involved, much to Pendrick's annoyance. In the last episode of Season 3, Sally Pendrick is revealed to be a criminal from upstate New York, stealing her husband's fortune, and investing in the development of a doomsday weapon.
James Pendrick reappears in later seasons with various new inventions.
Dr. Darcy Garland
The husband of Dr. Julia Ogden. He does, in fact, get along just fine with Detective William Murdoch. At the end of Season 5, Julia and Darcy part ways because he realizes she is with the wrong person. However, partway into Season 6, Darcy has second thoughts on separating from Julia and tears up their divorce papers. In episode "Lovers in a Murderous Time", Murdoch spots Darcy with his own mistress. Initially confronting him, Murdoch is goaded into punching him. In episode "Crime and Punishment", Darcy is murdered and Julia is implicated in his death.
Brother of Darcy Garland, he resents Murdoch and Ogden, blaming them for his brother's death. Because of this, he sends threatening letters to Dr. Ogden pretending to be Gillies.
Minor Recurring Characters
Harry Murdoch (Harry Smith)
Portrayed by Stephen McHattie, he is the father of Detective William Murdoch. When Murdoch meets his father for the first time after a long estrangement (episode: 1.06 - Let Loose The Dogs), for most of the case, he believes his father to be a killer and primary suspect. Harry leaves Toronto, telling his son that he has plans to settle in the West. Murdoch later goes to British Columbia to investigate a case with a fellow Mounted Policeman (episode: 2.13 - Anything I Can Do), where he meets up with his father. His father reveals to William that he has a half-brother. Harry only found out about this son in the past 5 years. Harry also explained why his other son believes his name is "Smith".
Portrayed by Peter Keleghan, he appears in six episodes. He worked for Rouge Valley Lands LTD. in the final episode of Season 1. The company planned to dam the Rouge River and create an electrical station. He also worked for the government in a high-level position, forcing Murdoch to pull off a case, making it Murdoch's third unsolved case. Terrance appeared in episode 7 of Season 4. like his boss Sir Wilfrid Laurier, he is very much disliked by Station 4 and always shows up at the most suspicious times. Most of his projects revolve around ensuring Canada receives air superiority. In Season 5, he and Murdoch infiltrate a visiting anarchist organization, following a bombing that took place in the streets of Toronto. In Season 6, Meyers attempted to appropriate an airplane before its inventor, James Pendrick, pushed it into Niagara Falls. Meyers also appeared in Season 7, where he first claimed to be assigned to assisting the U.S. in tracking down the anarchist cell that was responsible from William McKinley's death.
Portrayed by Jeffery Douglas, he was Dr. Julia Ogden's boyfriend throughout episode 12 (Werewolves) and the finale episode 13 (Anything I Can Do). These dates occurred when Murdoch was dating Enid Jones. It was believed that Dr. Ogden was seeing Reginald Poundsett only to make Detective William Murdoch jealous.
The famous inventor helps Murdoch solve the case in the very first episode. He really likes inventing things and improving things as he was working on transmitting wireless phone calls throughout the episode. Later in the episode he feels that his work will not make him rich, so he explores new options. He reappears in a later episode.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Portrayed by Geraint Wyn Davies. He follows Murdoch, trying to get a grasp on detective work for a future book and personal detective skills. He refers to Murdoch and himself as "similar people", because of their fathers both being alcoholics. He appeared in season 6 to help with the matter of a man with a personality disorder that led him to believe he was Sherlock Holmes. Because Arthur Conan Doyle is the creator and authority on Sherlock Holmes he was brought to assist the detectives in tricking the man into revealing his true self. However, to Doyle's surprise, the man was an impeccable likeness to his character, offering all logical answers to his questions. Doyle even asked him how "Sherlock Holmes" could've survived his death at the Reichenbach Falls, as there was no footprints leading away from the cliff, but the man replies he retraced his own footprints. Doyle is startled and admits that's a good idea. It is suggested that the man gave the ideas that made it possible for Doyle to bring his character back to life.
Portrayed by Maria Del Mar, a spritiualist medium who helps Murdoch with his case. Originally Murdoch did not trust her, but bad luck with his case caused him to change his mind and ask Ms. Pensell for help.
Portrayed by Sarah Allen, a romantic interest of Murdoch appearing 5 episodes over the 2nd part of season 2. She often does not get along with Dr. Julia Ogden because she suspects that Murdoch still has feelings for her.
Portrayed by Dakota Goyo, he is the son of Enid Jones. He appears in 3 episodes in the 2nd season.
A free-living journalist, portrayed by Sarah Gadon. She is the sister of Dr. Ogden, also admires George Crabtree and Murdoch very much, making her sister Julia very jealous. She is first seen following Harry Houdini. She later has an affair with H.G. Wells. She tells Dr. Ogden to not let Murdoch slip away from her.
The wife of the Inspector Thomas Brackenreid, portrayed by Arwen Humphreys. She appears periodically throughout the series. She is involved in the temperance movement for a period, and once becomes suspicious of her husband's relationship with an opera singer, but is typically portrayed as a loyal and loving partner. She and Thomas have two children.
Dr. Isaac Tash
A doctor known for having an illegal abortionist business. Appears throughout the series twice.
Portrayed by Lisa Faulkner. Murdoch's former love from Bristol, England, during season 3. She also appears in season 4, where it is revealed that she is engaged to another man. Murdoch later finds out that her fiancé was a member of the Black Hand, a criminal organization and forerunner of the Mafia, who chose to elope with Anna with the counterfeit money he was smuggling. This forced the Black Hand to kill him and put a hit on Anna, assuming she was complicit. This causes Anna to change her name. Murdoch later finds her working in a library where one of Anna's colleagues was murdered. Murdoch fears for her safety because the Black Hand still has a price on her head. By the end of the two-part episode, Murdoch fakes Anna's death, so the Black Hand would stop chasing her.
Portrayed by Jonathan Llyr. A Toronto dock worker, strongly dislikes Inspector Brackenreid to the point where he brutally beats him in the final episode of season 7. He dies later in season 8.
Minor Recurring Police Officers
Chief Constable Stockton
The chief constable who once offered Murdoch a promotion to inspector, but decides not to give the job to Murdoch because he is Catholic. Inspector Brackenreid is ordered to tell Murdoch he can't have the job, but the inspector instead convinces Murdoch to decline the job.
An older constable, often appears when a group of constables are assigned to a task. First listed in credits in "Blood and Circuses."
Chief Constable Giles
Portrayed by Nigel Bennett The Chief of police, he succeeded Chief Constable Stockton. He believed that Murdoch set a prisoner free in season 4 episode 13, "Murdoch in Wonderland"; in the season 5 episode 1, "Murdoch of the Klondike", Brackenreid covered for Murdoch with the story of a faulty lock. Chief Constable Giles did not believe this story but because he had no evidence he couldn't arrest Murdoch. However, because of that, in a number of episodes in Season 5 Chief Constable Giles seemed to have something personally against Murdoch and was always against anything that Murdoch said in any episode that had both Chief Constable Giles and Murdoch in. The storyline with Chief Constable Giles personally hating Murdoch was dropped from the program, and because of that in season 6 episode 6, "Murdoch and the Cloud of Doom", when somebody threatened Toronto with a deadly toxic gas, Chief Constable Giles personally asked Murdoch to find the person. In season 6 episode 12, "Crime & Punishment" he arrested Dr. Ogden for the murder of her husband Dr. Darcy Garland and suspended both Murdoch and Brackenreid, but when they secretly continued their investigation, he reinstated them.
A constable seen around District 4 Department but who was not given a name until season 4 episode 1, "All Tattered and Torn", when Detective Malcolm Lamb returns to the station. Constable Hodge was discovered to have murdered a constable to prevent Chief Constable Giles, a detective at the time, from being blackmailed.