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Blu-ray Reviews: Murdoch Mysteries (Season 9 & Seasons 1-4)

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A few years ago, I flew into Toronto for an exciting few days. I wanted to feel the complete Canada. After a night of Poutine, Tim Horton’s donuts and Yukon Jack, I returned back to my semi-hotel room in an apartment building that must have been used by David Cronenberg for Rabid. I flipped on the TV and there was Murdoch Mysteries. In a few seconds I was truly immersed in the Canadian life. Sadly the Toronto of Detective William Murdoch is way long gone. He was solving crimes in 1895 and I had spotty wifi. His policeman did not know the addictive joy of Timbits. This glorious viewing moment proved that Murdoch Mysteries was as popular in Canada as it was on PBS South of the Border. Now the Murdoch Mysteries: Season 9 brings 18 more episodes to Blu-ray plus Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 1-4 brings a higher resolution to the early caseload.

Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) dares the push police investigations into the incoming 20th Century as he gets difficult cases. He keeps up with technology which back then took a bit effort since it’s not like he could just Google search. He’s not met with complete resistance to his revolutionary forensic techniques although he does have to come up with conventional ways to also prove the guilty. He has the assistance of Dr. Julia Ogden (as Hélène Joy) to investigate the victims. By season nine, he’s got enough of a reputation that he’s not treated as a nutjob when he wants to test out something he read about in a scientific journal.

“Nolo Contendere” has Murdoch investigating a stabbing the prison that holds his pal Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris). Luckily it seems the bloodletting might let Crabtree flow through the bars and become a cast regular. “Marked Twain” is the massive highlight of the season since it brings the legendary Canadian William Shatner (Star Trek) onto the show. Although in a role reversal, Shatner is playing a legendary American. The local Empire club erupts in anger when their mystery guest turns out to be Mark Twain. Why the anger? Is it because they all got marked down on book reports for Huckleberry Finn. Turns out Twain is anti-Imperialism which defeats the purpose of the club. Things get so rowdy that someone takes a shot at Twain. Murdoch must find the gunman. Twain has serious reasons why he can’t flee back to America so the police must protect him. It’s a strange episode since they go extremely minimal on transforming Shatner into Twain. Instead of going the whole Hal Holbrook, Shatner merely wears a big mustache. Nobody tuned in to watch Shatner disappear into an impersonation. “Double Life” features the departure of as Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly).

“Barenaked Ladies” does not feature members of the popular Canadian band. Instead bodies of women show up in the parks after they’ve been electroplated. Murdoch has to go beyond just figuring out how they died and connect the women after he peels off their metal coating. “The Local Option” has people attempting to ban alcohol in Toronto. Where would we go for our Canadian Club? “A Case of the Yips” has Murdoch learning golf after a duffer shows up dead on the links. The sport was a little bit different a century ago before the arrival of Tiger Woods. “Colour Blinded” puts racial tensions up when a white man is found dead in a black church. Murdoch must solve the crime without provoking more crimes. “House of Industry” & “Bl..dy H.ll” deal with a corruption investigation at Station 3 that might take out members of Murdoch’s unit. The season wraps up with “Cometh the Archer” where Ogden gets shot and Murdoch abducted. Could this be the end of the series? What’s missing out of the set is the two hour “A Merry Murdoch Christmas” movie that aired during this season. That special is being released separately on October 4, 2016.

Recent fans of the show can catch up on the early seasons of the series with Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 1-4. These are the early cases where Murdoch was being met with resistance as he used the latest scientific theories to unveil murderers. The show seemed destined to be a long running series since it was solid in scripts and acting while being compelling in its unraveling of the perfect crimes. What’s amazing is that a show so serious in being about Canada would gain a loyal following in America. The PBS crowd made it part of the mystery triple team with Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. They’ve also released Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 5-8 so PBS viewers can watch the entire series without a single pledge break.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p image brings out the fine period work of the production. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The sounds of a bygone era fill the speakers. The episodes are subtitled.

Bonus features on Season 9 include Making of Murdoch (43 min.) featurette that covers the new season and a photo gallery.

Bonus features on Seasons 1-4 include Pilot episode commentary, interviews with the author and cast (18 min.), behind-the-scenes featurettes (30 min.), Season 3 alternate ending, Season 4 alternate love letters (2 min.), props of Murdoch Mysteries (PDF), photo galleries, and cast filmographies, and character biographies.

Acorn Media & RLJ Entertainment present Murdoch Mysteries: Season 9. Starring: Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Thomas Craig & Jonny Harris. Boxset Contents: 18 Episodes on 4 Blu-ray discs. Released: August 2, 2016.

Acorn Media & RLJ Entertainment present Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 1-4. Starring: Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Thomas Craig & Jonny Harris. Boxset Contents: 52 Episodes on 12 Blu-ray discs. Released: August 2, 2016.

Acorn Media & RLJ Entertainment present Murdoch Mysteries Collection: Seasons 5-8. Starring: Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Thomas Craig & Jonny Harris. Boxset Contents: 66 Episodes on 18 Blu-ray discs. Released: August 2, 2016.

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