Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yannick Bisson Back Again As Murdoch

So there I was at the CBC fall TV launch chatting up Yannick Bisson, the engaging star of the long running Inspector Murdoch Mysteries.
And I naturally asked him "Do you remember the first time I interviewed you? It was for the TV movie Hockey Night and you were all of 17."
"Actually I was closer to 15," Bisson  cooly replied.
But unlike other teen stars I was profiling in 1984 he didn't let popularity bother him.
He stayed steady to his course of becoming a fine leading man and now three decades later he makes an ingratiating Victorian era detective.
The series which is shot mostly in Toronto and Hamilton revs up for a record seventh season Monday night at 8 on CBC-TV.
For its first five years Murdoch was a staple of Citytv but new management found it a bit too pricey and dropped out.
Perhaps it has always deserved to be on CBC --at any rate the Canadian Television Fund bent its rules forbidding financing after more than five seasons.
The season opener is exciting, one of the best ever installments titled Murdoch Ahoy and cast and crew got to sail on the historic SS Keewatin.
I'm not giving away too much plot by explaining there are two explosions an board the pleasure cruiser and the ship seems in danger of sinking.
And did I say this is a Victorian melodrama?Make that Edwardian.
The great old queen-empress expired on January 22 1901so this is the first Victorian Day without her -- so honored on her behalf to mark her birthday. Hence the holiday outing which turns deadly.
In fact Bisson is the second Murdoch --Peter Outerbridge played the detective in a series of TV movies shot in Winnipeg.
But when a series was ordered up by City in 2008 Outerbridge was otherwise occupied as the star of the futuristic series ReGenesis.
Bisson plays the character of William Murdoch completely differently--he's far more suave and diffident although still a Roman C
Among Canadian series Murdoch must be the most expensive to shoot --all the accoutrements of another age have to be used, The day I was on the set I spent some time with wardrobe who had to make many costumes from scratch. Everything else from 1900 typewriters to appropriate furnishings comes from antique dealers.
After CBC jumped in ratings have gone sky high and the network has ordered 18 episodes this season compared to last year's 13 making it more competitive with the U.S. opposition.
Some home grown networks have actually cancelled popular Canadian dramas for failing to land a lucrative sale to a U.S. network.
Murdoch is popular in many markets but has yet to be seen on a big U.S. network --it ran instead first on Netflix and then Ovation.
Murdoch Ahoy is well directed by Laurie Lynd and the special effects are handsomely mounted. And Bisson told me he'll once again direct another episode (titled Murdoch Of The Living Dead).
And if ratings continue to expands I'll even predict a season eight.
MY RATING: *** 1/2.

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