Everybody's favourite Canadian old-timey crime show, "Murdoch Mysteries," is back for a sixth season. This time around, you'll have to tune your dial to CBC to catch it. The pubcaster picked up the beloved show when Citytv decided to drop it after season 5.
"It's a great thing being somewhere you're wanted," says Yannick Bisson, who plays Detective William Murdoch. "Being at CBC has lifted my spirits." The CBC save has undoubtedly lifted the spirits of "Murdoch"'s legions of devoted fans, too, who can't wait to see what Murdoch and his trusty sidekick Crabtree (Jonny Harris) will get up to next.
We stopped by the impressive "Murdoch Mysteries" set in Toronto to watch Murdoch and Crabtree in action in the delightfully retro morgue, and to see if any of those typewriters at the police station actually work. (They don't.)
We also dug up 10 fun facts about the new season, and solved the enduring mystery of whether Murdoch wears eyeliner or not.
1. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden's relationship evolves. "Everybody wants to know what's happening with [Murdoch and] Dr. Ogden ... everybody wants them to get together," says Bisson. "They're trying to be true to themselves. The writers have done a terrific job this year setting [their story] up."
2. Crabtree's love life heats up this season. "He's got a soft spot for the new coroner, Dr. Grace ... there may be a bit of romance," says Harris. Coincidentally, Harris and Georgina Reilly (who plays Dr. Grace) became friends before she joined the show when she started dating his friend Mark O'Brien (who plays Des on "Republic of Doyle"). They, along with Harris's girlfriend, often go on double dates. "It is a strange thing to happen. In what scenario would your significant other be kissing someone else?" Harris ruminates.
3. "Downton Abbey"'s Thomas Howes guest stars as a young Winston Churchill. When the future British Prime Minister runs into trouble on a visit to Canada, Murdoch helps him clear his name.
4. Craig Grant, the show's gifted prop master, built the electric car that appeared last season. "The fun thing about this show is that if we can't find it, we make it up," says Grant. This season, he and his team built an airplane with a 32-foot wingspan. "That was a challenge getting it to look right and function the way we needed it to," he recalls.
5. Bisson accessorizes Murdoch's dapper three-piece wool suits with brightly coloured Nike sneakers while filming. "It's a comfort thing," Bisson explains, adding that at first he was worried that it might affect his gait, but that hasn't proven to be a problem. Off-screen, Bisson says you're most likely to catch him wearing pocket shorts with a v-neck t-shirt. "If anything, I try to be as different from Murdoch as I can."
6. Harris doesn't look much like Crabtree off set, either. He favours jeans and hoodies over elaborate suits. "I'm probably lazier than he is. He's a real salt-of-the-earth, hard-working guy," says Harris. "Crabtree's main strength is that he's pure of heart. He's almost like Murdoch's golden retriever."
7. This season, the show filmed extensively at Ontario's Legislative Building. "They gave us unprecedented access to Queen's Park," says Bisson. The only downside? The building isn't air conditioned, and they shot there in the sweltering summer months.
8. When Murdoch isn't filming at its elaborate set or at historic locations like Queen's Park, the crew gets creative about hiding modern amenities. "They'll build an ornate mailbox to cover a hydro box, and bring in truckloads of dirt to hide the pavement," says Harris. "Sometimes you don't know if a tree is real of if it's covering something up."
9. For the record, Murdoch is not wearing eyeliner -- Bisson just has really thick eyelashes. "I've been dealing with that since I was a little boy," says Bisson. "It's very awkward." Even Harris gets questions about whether Murdoch's piercing gaze is enhanced or not. "A buddy of mine said, 'Great show, but they've got to ease up on buddy's eyeliner!'" he says. "Yannick has a perfect, made-for-television face."
10. That isn't the only aspect of his appearance Bisson gets frequent comments about. "It's funny, the first thing people say to me is 'Oh, wow! You're much shorter in real life!"' Bisson says, laughing. "TV has a way of aggrandizing people."
Season 6 of "Murdoch Mysteries" premieres on CBC Television on Monday, January 7 at 9 p.m. EST/ 9:30 p.m. in Newfoundland.
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