DVD Review: Murdoch Mysteries, Season Fourteen
By: Chris Chan
(WARNING: Some oblique spoilers here.)
Due to the pandemic, the fourteenth season of Murdoch Mysteries was a bit shorter than usual. Luckily, the current season (fifteen) is extra-long to make up for it. Despite its brevity, Season Fourteen is largely a good one, with a few gems, several solid episodes, and a couple that will divide fans.
Like the last season, there are fewer historical characters integrated into the story, but the season premiere, “Murdoch and the Tramp,” featuring young versions of comedy legends like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, is a delight. Probably my favorite episode is “Murdoch Escape Room,” where the four central characters are compelled to solve a bunch of deadly puzzles in order to save their own lives from a twisted individual bent on vengeance.
One shortcoming with the season is a couple of slight disconnects in the series’ continuity. In the previous season, Dr. Ogden made a choice with serious moral implications. Though she escaped consequences, Murdoch promised a conversation with her that never happened, and there’s no reference to this potentially relationship-destroying event in the fourteenth season. As it’s stands, it’s like the creative team is avoiding a clash that needs to happen, as Murdoch is not a man who can keep his conscience silenced even if it’s convenient for him to stay quiet, and it seems as if the show wants to pretend this character-shaking event never happened.
Furthermore, the closing episodes retcon a scene from a decade earlier, but the alteration doesn’t really gel with the events of a few other past episodes. If the whole storyline turns out to be some sort of clever scheme on Murdoch’s part to catch bad guys, then that’s all right. As it stands, it seems out of character and disjointed.
At the same time, a few storylines from earlier seasons are continued quite skillfully, like a pair of past characters and their respective grudges against the detectives brought back for “Murdoch Escape Room,” and the potential return of George’s stalker.
As usual, when the show handles “issues,” it does so with a very heavy hand, usually stopping the narrative dead with the overtness of the messaging. This season, at least once or twice, there are moments of actual pathos in the “issue narratives,” and it’s great to see the writers putting strong emphasis on characterization, though at times it would help to avoid the increasingly shallow trope of making some characters more sympathetic by making others cold and unlikeable. In multiple cases, the episode would’ve been improved by stressing every character’s humanity.
One episode produces a real emotional payoff by reversing a common trope of the series. We’ve seen it before at least half a dozen times. By the end of these episodes, the truth is revealed and all of the main characters are happy, as the status quo is restored. In the episode in question, there’s a dark twist, and certain characters will never be the same again… at least they wouldn’t be if the repercussions were brought up over the rest of the season. I really hope the show returns to this plotline again, as it could have tremendous dramatic impact.
Season Fourteen isn’t perfect, but it still leaves me excited for Season Fifteen.
Murdoch Mysteries, Season 14
DVD & Blu-Ray $49.99