Aside from Once Upon a Time (which, being a Sunday show, was one of the last to make its debut), the rest of my television viewing has settled into a new realm of fun and predictability. Castle was lighter and softer, while Murdoch Mysteries shook up its episode-order to take the audience backstage into the intrigues of the late Victorian theatre business. I enjoyed the episodes – if only I could be cured of checking for spoiler updates daily!
ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, premiered September 30 (Broken)
Having been waiting for this since May, I was understandably quite excited to see the aftermath of the broken curse and magic entering Storybrooke. I was not at all disappointed. The writers for this show are fantastic and I can definitely see that they have a new storyline mapped out for this season. It seems that all of the gloves are off: most importantly, it does not look like Rumplestiltskin is in overall control of the situation anymore. New characters appeared, while others are returning to the forefront. The Evil Queen is her predictably emotionally-stunted self – I could not help but feel sorry for her. Rumplestiltskin at least admits that he is a monster.
Not to give away too many spoilers, but I really identified with the scenes where Snow White was trying to get Emma to open up to her. First of all, I do not think Emma’s reaction was bizarre or bratty. She had spent years convinced that her parents had abandoned her. Then, upon finding her parents (who are her own age, which is weird enough), she discovered that they were fairy-tale characters. As the events of the premiere directly follow the events of last year’s finale, Emma has only discovered her identity and started believing in the fairy tale world as real for less than a day. There is only so much a brain can absorb! Second of all, I think that the scene is quite reminiscent of what many parents go through with their children, particularly as they become adults. In the midst of all the magic, watching Emma and Snow argue felt normal. At least Snow has an excuse – she has missed 28 years of her daughter’s life and she is from a world where happy endings are the normal way of things. In a fit of cultural difference, she is understandably shocked that her newfound daughter does not rush to embrace her. Most ordinary parents do not have this excuse. Badgering at your child only causes them to clam up. This behaviour is not bratty – it is merely normal, adult behaviour. Adults do not react kindly to other adults badgering them, even if said adults are their mothers. Luckily, Prince Charming was more on his daughter’s side, even if he was probably chomping at the bit to ask questions himself. (Honestly, what dad would not want to know who got his little girl knocked up as a teenager?)
I thought the first season of this show was a lovely story that had a logical story arc, but I am glad that they have the chance to explore this world more. This upcoming weekend promises more backstory about the resident bad guys.
Season 5, Episode 2 (Cloudy With a Chance of Murder)
As I said, it was back to the fun, zany murder mysteries and sexual tension after a serious season premiere. This episode concerned the death of a popular weather girl. Suffice to say it was standard for the show – nothing very memorable about it. It did make me wonder why we tend to objectify the weather-person on newscasts moreso than other anchors. What is it about the weather-person, male or female? Is it because they stand in front of that screen so that their body is highlighted? Is it because we get to see more of them? Does the weather seem more like a song and dance performance compared to entertainment or sports?
The relationship with Castle and Beckett has yet to settle in – they are trying to keep it a secret, but Castle has no idea how to actually do that. Does he pretend to date others? He makes a bad call in this episode, but I can’t really blame him. Beckett told him to be single in public. If she wanted him to pretend that he was dating an imaginary person, she needed to tell him that. Even after sleeping with her, Castle was still willing to do anything for her. Bad calls for both of them, really. They really should have had their cover story more thought out, although it made for an amusing, Shakespeare-like comedy in the middle of a (rather more serious) murder investigation. Honestly, Shakespeare probably wishes that he could have written this episode. Were he alive today, he would have written this type of thing. High schools should use this episode to compare with their Shakespeare plays.
Season 5, Episode 3/5 (Murdoch at the Opera)
While in the theatre vein, this week’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries was set primarily in an opera house and had an operatic-style plot. I do not know what prompted the CBC to broadcast the fifth season out of order (it is showing Episode 6 next week as well – when will we see 3 & 4, pray tell?). It is not as though the fifth episode was much more exciting than the third. Both have Victorian plots, which naturally are more thematic than they are historical. Really, the plots are not any more bizarre than those in Castle – just the setting throws things off. I don’t know – do people expect more historical accuracy or seriousness because the show is set in 1899? It is still just a fun detective series.
I liked this episode – I read complaints that this episode focused too much on the character of Inspector Brackenreid (so what?) and too much on the comic absurdity of his obsession with the opera. I thought it was refreshing to explore a character other than Murdoch and have a romantic plot that did not involve Murdoch pining over Dr. Ogden. The theme was the opera – the episode’s mystery and plot naturally reflected such. Every episode of this show has a different theme related to different mystery genres and popular culture of both modern and Victorian/Edwardian times.
The music in this episode is stunning. I’m no opera fan – in fact, I can’t stand soprano arias, so I can totally sympathise with Mrs. Brackenreid – but I enjoyed the music and the performance of the guest star, Measha Brueggergosman. The opera being performed is Puccini`s La Boheme. The story varies from melancholic to farcical and the ending is suitably dramatic.
Next week, Murdoch is back centre stage as the show explores automobiles. Having seen it this past summer, I can say that it is historically accurate to a point and not merely a proselytizing opportunity. It raises valid questions about how the automobile industry developed. What could have been, indeed!
After all, what is history but a series of “what has been” and “what could have been”?