That was back when City walked away from the series after five seasons. Now it is CBC’s most-watched scripted series and one of the highest-rated dramas in Canada. It could also be Canada’s Top TV export, sold to 122 international markets and counting.
This last point was driven home for me when I was attending MIPCOM in Cannes. I turned on France’s Channel 3 to run in the background while I worked on some stories and there was a flawlessly dubbed episode of Murdoch Mysteries in prime time…and then another, and then another. It was repeated so often for a second there I thought I was watching CBC or City.
Monday night at 8 p.m. ET, CBC airs the 100th episode of the series. It’s the long-awaited, hush-hush wedding episodes, entitled, “Holy Matrimony, Murdoch!” The church scenes were shot on Queen Street in Toronto at the neo-Gothic Metropolitan United Church (which also doubled as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York for “The Kennedys.”). The church goes back to the 1870s, well before Murdoch’s storylines are set, although much of the structure had to be rebuilt after a fire gutted the place in the ’20s.
I was on location last summer when the wedding scenes were shot. The producers had gone to some pains to hide the wedding story from fans, cooking up a few red herrings on-line to throw folks off the trail.
Now that the story is out there, the fans are first in line on the details. A thousand have been invited down to the CBC broadcast centre to screen the episode, entitled, “Holy Matrimony, Murdoch.” (The love-in is by invitation only and sold out.) Given my vaulted status as “Miner No. 7” a few seasons back, I’ve been asked to moderate a panel after the screening featuring the entire principle cast–Yannick Bisson (detective Murdoch), Helene Joy (Dr. Julia Ogden), Thomas Craig (Inspector Brackenreid), Jonny Harris (George Crabtree) and Georgina Reilly (Emily Grace) as well as showrunner Peter Mitchell and Shaftesbury CEO and executive producer Christina Jennings.
It’s great fun anytime I have the good fortune to join this group. It’s also a welcome chance to celebrate something positive at CBC HQ. The success of Murdoch has indeed been one of the great Canadian TV success stories of the past decade.
Fans (and they include the prime minister, who says its his favourite series) have been taking a will-they-or-won’t-they approach to Murdoch and Dr. Julia for years and Monday’s nuptuals puts a bow on that love story. The question, of course, will soon become, “Now what?” Weddings usually come at the end of a series. Murdoch’s ratings continue to climb, despite the nightly, supper hour repeats on CBC and the summer-long marathon on former broadcaster City.
Mitchell will hopefully shed light on where the series, which wraps production on Season Eight this week in Toronto, will go from here. Will Murdoch and Dr. Ogden somehow figure out a way to have children? Will Miner No. 7 be asked back to babysit? So many questions.