|Yannick Bisson (left) was a fan favourite at CITF|
Fans from eight to 80 crammed into the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s largest cinema Sunday to get their Murdoch moment.
The entire cast of the hit CBC Monday night drama Murdoch Mysteries took a bow live on stage as part of the inaugural Canadian International Television Festival. Yannick Bisson (Det. William Murdoch), Thomas Craig (Inspector Brackenreid), Helene Joy ( Dr. Julia Ogden), Jonny Harris (Constable Crabtree) and Georgina Reilly (Dr. Emily Grace) were all in the house, as was showrunner Peter Mitchell and much of the extended cast and crew.
Monday’s night’s episode, “Loch Ness Murdoch,” was screened and looked fabulous on the giant Lightbox screen, holding up as well as any movie in high definition.
The 500 tickets to the two-hour Murdoch salute were snapped off the Lightbox ticket site in 15 minutes. As moderator, I fielded questions from youngsters to one 80-year-old woman who seemed pretty excited to see Bisson on screen in his turn-of-the-century, full body bathing suit.
The wide range in ages at the screening reflects the full family appeal of Murdoch, which, when all the PVR and Live+7 numbers are counted, is pulling around 1.6 million CBC viewers a week. In Canada, this puts it ahead of such big U.S. draws as The Voice, X Factor, America’s Got Talent or Dancing with the Stars.
Monday’s “Loch Ness” episode was shot off the shores of Lake Ontario near Grimsby on a day last summer where temperatures soared well past the 40-degree mark.
Mitchell and the writers take care to weave historical accuracies into each episode. There were, for examples, published reports of lake monster sightings by the Toronto waterfront at the time.
Murdoch‘s success is made even more extraordinary when you consider this was a series that was dead two years ago. Rogers declared in a release that they would produce a fifth and final season. The cast and crew were told the series had been canceled.
Ratings were steady but never breakout strong on City. Programmers at Rogers felt the series had peaked and wanted to shift their focus and domestic programming dollars into comedies such as Seed and Package Deal.
Within hours of Rogers’ announcement, CBC officials called and talks began with Shaftesbury Films to extend the series on the public broadcaster. What I didn’t know until Sunday’s CITF session was that CTV also came calling at exactly the same time.
That the series wound up on CBC was fortuitous all around. Murdoch was a perfect fit, with the sixth season embraced immediately.Work on the 18th and final episode of the seventh season wraps Tuesday, with news of an eighth season order expected anytime soon.
The season will continue right up to CBC’s coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympic games in February, with Murdoch returning after that for more episodes into March and April. Don’t be surprised if there isn’t some sort of cliffhanger setting up season eight.