We only have the first eleven seasons here, but the series is still going on. The action takes place just before the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the latest season, it must be very close to the first world war, if we take one season equals one year in historical time. Because the historical rooting of the series is very important. Some historical characters intervene in the action, either politicians like the Canadian Prime Minister, or President Theodor Roosevelt and many characters are literary names of the period like Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, not to mention the allusions to literary fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes. Their objective is to give some truth value to the story.
The second element is that the series is systematically centered on problems of the time, social and political problems, I mean, like the voting right for women, the debate about abortion and contraception, the regulation against alcohol with very noisy prohibition activists, often vicious and on the verge of domestic religious terrorism, definitely bigotry. The presence of Indians in the wilderness is also represented, now and then, particularly in the Christmas special film, "Home for the Holidays." Then Murdoch systematically brings in questions concerning various inventions he devised like tea bags, or other people around him devised like toe-tags for corpses, and the recurrent intervention of a mad scientist who is ready to invest - with his presence most of the time - on any crazy project that has since then become standard in our twenty-first century's society. You can imagine of course the dubious hostility these inventions can develop and boost among the local audience in Toronto at the time.
But what about the crimes?
Not much to say, except that they want to be entertaining and they are certainly not very accurate as for the details of the crimes themselves and the logic of the criminals who have not gone to a real school of crime anywhere, and how these crimes are committed. But of course, the details are not what is important here. Let us suspend our disbelief since we are only expecting some entertainment. And entertainment it is, even when it deals with the deep and ever-present corruption in the city of Toronto, and probably in Canada; not to mention the USA next door that are the champions all categories in the field, the corruption field that definitely sounds like a battlefield against honest economical Canadians, and eventually Americans.
Apart from detective Murdoch and his superior Chief Inspector Brickenreid who is as subtle as what his name suggests, a collar or a wreath of bricks, and bricks made of mud, certainly not diamond, not even intellectual silver, apart from them the main characters are a simple Police Constable, and a few colleagues of his, George Crabtree who is an author from time to time, a fan of pharaohs and other ancient history characters, and the developer of superheroes in comic-book style. And I would be unfair if I forgot the last but not least essential character, Doctor Julia Ogden, a coroner, pathologist, or medical examiner who spends her life in the morgue, and some of her free time agitating women for the conquest of political suffrage, and abortion plus contraception. At the time it was treason and deserved the death penalty, English style if you please, meaning hanging.
The series, even if it deals with controversial questions in the historical period concerned, is far from being controversial today and we must say it is quite a prime time, no PG classification at all program, and it might even be educational on some points for a younger audience. And all the corpses are very modest and shy under their sheets or other shameless, lustless, and humble timidity in their fully covered nudity. At least covered as much as the bathers on the beach of the lake, from ankles to chin, at least both ways, men, and women alike, including children of both sexes. That's what it costs these corpses to be in a prime-time series as characters of honor, maybe honorable personae.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU.