TV PREMIERE WEEK — Fall 2012

Detectives, detectives, and more detectives…and some comedy thrown in.

It is that wonderful time of the year again – after four months (actually, nearly five this year) of reruns, reality shows, and lots of sports, the network television season has begun!

[Note: As I live in North America, I admit that I am not aware of how the schedules work abroad.  Here in Canada, we mostly get American network shows at the same time the Yanks do.]

Like new books, familiar characters return to screens with new material.  I have to admit that I find shows that I like and stick with them, but rarely do I venture to watch many new shows.  I get invested in the stories and characters and thus there are only so many nights in the week.  Hence I watch certain shows religiously and I miss them over the summer – particularly when they are left in mortal peril in the last second before the screen fades to black.

Here are my reactions to my favourite shows (in chronological order):

MURDOCH MYSTERIES

Season 5, premiered September 17

Detective drama, historical (and Canadian)

Technically, this was last week and this was not the actual premiere.  I actually got to watch it over the summer, as the show changed networks and Season 5 got repeated.  However, I think it is worth mentioning and I am rewatching it.  It is a pity they are not re-airing the first four seasons on the new network, however.  There are some story elements that I had to explain to a first-time viewer, but not many.

This series is set in 1890s Toronto, the Dominion of Canada in the twilight of Queen Victoria’s reign.  This season starts in 1899 and finishes with the turn of the new year to 1900.

However, the season premiere (Murdoch in the Klondike) takes place in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, where our titular Detective William Murdoch has retreated after resigning his post on an act of conscience.  After four seasons of Toronto (city squalor, etc.), this was a refreshing change.  It was a chance to explore Murdoch’s character while still solving a murder.  Meanwhile, back in Toronto, his boss (Inspector Brackenreid) is dealing with fallout from Murdoch’s resignation while Constable Crabtree, Murdoch’s assistant and the show’s resident comic relief, attempts to fill in as a detective – with predictably awkward results.  Dr. Julia Ogden, Mrs. Dr. Garland (that is all one title, not two people) is quitting her job at the city morgue and training a new female doctor (Dr. Emily Grace – after four years, they finally added another female lead) to replace her.  Dr. Ogden and Detective Murdoch have a painful romantic history together – unfortunately, this was not well-explained.

The second episode, Back and To the Left, which aired this week on Sept. 24, was a return to the usual murder-in-Toronto formula.  It tackled the tense atmosphere of Catholics vs. Protestants at an Orange Lodge parade for the Battle of the Boyne with aplomb – kudos to the writers for adding political conspiracy and not getting overly bogged down in the religious element.  However, it was a nice touch to see the discrimination that the Catholic Detective Murdoch is faced with as he dutifully conducts his investigation.

I really enjoy historical shows, but they are really hard to do well.  It is especially hard to avoid being overly dramatic.  Historical comedies, other than sketch shows, have a limited appeal.  Murdoch Mysteries is a dramatic comedy detective show that is part Sherlock Holmes, part Bones, and part This Hour Has 22 Minutes.  It has romance, intrigue, and humour added into the mystery element, but does not lose focus.  Also, for history buffs like myself, there are lots of hidden nuggets to find.  The show is not above poking fun at itself and making references to the future.  One of my favourite quotes is from the second season, wherein Murdoch is dancing with Dr. Ogden at a party at which a paleontologist will be the main speaker.  Dr. Ogden suggests that it would be nice to have a job that was so fascinating to ordinary people.  Murdoch replies: “Well, perhaps someday people will be as fascinated with the work of doctors and police detectives.”

CASTLE

Season 5, premiered September 24

Detective drama, although with a lot of comedy and romance

For the first time, the season premiere followed the season finale without a time-skip.  I really liked how the writers fit the story together.  Next week, the time-skip has brought us up to the fall (as this an American network show that likes to follow real time as closely as possible – there is even an election going on), but the premiere is Act Two from May.  My thoughts are as follows:

  1. Castle and Beckett make a great couple – I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops further, as well as the comedy that will now happen as they try to hide it.
  2. The Big Arc Mystery has been solved, but the big bad buy involved is still in the picture.  I am glad the writers left this opportunity.

THE BIG BANG THEORY

Season 6, premiered September 27

Comedy

I just caught this by chance.  I really enjoy this show (as well as How I Met Your Mother), but I do not have a loyal attachment to sitcoms in the same vein that I do dramas.  I catch them online a day or two later, or check the synopsis on Wikipedia.  I am glad I saw this one, though.  It was cute, funny, and in some ways painful, but in a good way.  I identify a little too much with Raj and Amy.  Thank God for the segment with Wolowitz in space (the Russian cosmonaut’s quips were worth the show)!  Next week’s episode looks promising.

For some reason, this show is a lot more popular in Canada than in the United States.  This is weird in that none of the main cast are Canadian and the show is not filmed in Canada.  I chalk it up to the fact that Canada is like the nerdy brother to America.  We identify with it more.  After all, it was our scientists who took our scrapped aviation program to NASA.

ONCE UPON A TIME

Season 2, premiering September 30

Drama, Fantasy

Still waiting with much anticipation!  The sneak peeks are delicious.  New fairy tale characters will be refreshing, as well as finding out what happens to the main cast now that Storybrooke has been turned upside down.  This show has awesome writers – the first season played out like a book, so I hope that the second season does likewise.

I do like my fairy tales!

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