Murdoch and Sherlock – well worth a look!

Posted on: 17 April 2012 by Anthony Page

Tony Page reviews Murdoch Mysteries and Murder by Decree.

I’m lucky in this job as I get to view the latest DVD releases and as a lifelong movie buff this couldn’t be better for me! Two came in this week and both were really enjoyable. The first was a set of four DVDs entitled ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ and the second was a re-run of the 1979 film ‘Murder by Decree’.‘Murdoch Mysteries’ is produced in Canada by Shaftsbury Films and they are just starting on the sixth series. In total there will be 65 episodes. I was sent the fourth series of some thirteen programmes. Apparently it has had screenings in the UK on Alibi (formally UKTV) although I haven’t seen it - could be that I can’t receive Alibi on Freeview!

I watched all thirteen episodes and can honestly say enjoyed them all to such an extent I’m going to buy the boxed set of series 1 to 3. There is a continuing story line throughout  the plot which revolves around Inspector Murdoch (Yannick Bisson – Canadian actor) and the lady Coroner (played by Helene Joy) and their on and off romance.

Each story is complete in itself and set in Montreal around the turn of the 19th century. Policing is in its infancy and the redoubtable Inspector Murdoch comes up with all manner of ‘cunning’ solutions to solve his case. Fingerprinting, remote photography, identikit images – he invents them all!

Costumes and sets are excellent with a total sense of authenticity right down to the antimacassars on the chair backs and arms. The only thing missing were the sleeves for the table legs! The plots are cunning and unfold with some totally unexpected solutions and culprits. If you enjoy Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s Law and Poirot you will love these –perfect viewing for insomniacs! a complete change we move on to a Sherlock Holmes’ thriller entitled ‘Murder by Decree’. Again set at the turn of the 19th century only in London and particularly Baker Street (but where else would Sherlock be?). This film was made in 1979 but has travelled well. The cast is top notch: Christopher Plummer, James Mason, David Hemming, Frank Finlay, Donald Sutherland, and Genevieve Bujold – the list goes on! The book the script is based upon is not a Conan Doyle novel although the characters are. The original book – Murder by Decree was written by Elwyn Jones and John Lloyd and adapted by John Hopkins.

Set around the time of Jack the Ripper the story unfolds a fascinating solution to these horrific crimes. We have Freemasonry, royalty the inscrutable Holmes and the every faithful Dr Watson played by James Mason – he is just so believable! Nearly two hours in the running the plot and acting drag you back in time with a thoroughly good yarn. Well worth getting.

Murdoch Mysteries - Series 4 [DVD]Murdoch Mysteries - Series 4 (from £31.50) and Murder By Decree (Sherlock Holmes) [DVD] (£9.99) are both available from Amazon.

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