ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, Episode 12 (In the Name of the Brother)
Of all the shows that I follow weekly, this one is the least like a detective story, barring a few episodes. In fact, one of the criticisms that I have read about this season of Once Upon a Time is that it has become “too much of a soap opera.” The implied insult is that a soap opera is inferior (although they tend to have long production runs and loyal audiences) or that the show is getting more complex than it was when it started. Unfortunately, the one quibble that I have is that the premise of the show (retelling fairy tales with a new central story) meant that it would eventually run out of commonly known tales to tell. I have no complaints about using other literary or Disney references because otherwise the show would be beating the same Snow White story to death week after week. As for new characters, I am always game for them, but that is a personal preference that I seem to share with the show’s creators. The story is still making sense, but I definitely would be hard-pressed to explain the whole plot in order to introduce it to someone who has never seen it before.
This episode was another refreshing break from the Snow White saga (in which I have included the Evil Queen, Emma, and Henry) and focused instead on Dr. Whale’s past, along with his relationship with Rumplestiltskin. We got another glimpse into the black-and-white world of the slightly askew nineteenth century, which was the onset of science fiction and horror and a sharp turn away from the fairy tales of previous centuries. This meant for more personal conflict for Dr. Whale in the present, and gave us some insight into Ruby as well.
Meanwhile, our leads were investigating mysteries, which was just fine with me, and Regina and Cora finally had their big reunion. Upcoming episodes (in March, alas) promise to delve into Cora’s backstory, which will be the classic tale “Rumplestiltskin and the Miller’s Daughter.” For those who are missing the classic tales because of the new storylines, that backstory could be quite interesting. Also on deck in February is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, while Emma and Mr. Gold go off searching for Rumplestiltskin’s son in New York (and I have no idea what fairy tale is going to be paired up with that).
REPUBLIC OF DOYLE
Season 4, Episode 3 (Identity Crisis)
We are in Canada: when you need to grab a shotgun for safety, you first have to unlock it from its hiding place, then unlock the ammunition from its separate hiding place, then unlock the ammunition, then load the shotgun, all before you can hope to go chasing after the bad guys! Not surprisingly, the bad guys have come and gone. Frying pans and bear spray can apparently work wonders, however.
[Note: Most gun crimes are domestic in nature – these laws are designed to prevent people from rashly grabbing a gun and firing it at a spouse, sibling, or child in frustration or anger. It’s also much less likely for a child or inexperienced person to get their hands on a loaded gun this way. For random thugs, invest in a frying pan or bear spray.]
Jake Doyle and company are charged with tracking down a missing woman that has been given up for dead. Things are more complicated when said woman does not want to be found, more thugs show up seeking different people and different things, and poor Des gets beaten up again and burnt to boot.
On the other hand, Tinny meets with her father (though she doesn’t tell him who she is) and seems to be genuinely trying to be nice to Des. Jake finds Leslie again, who is getting deeper undercover and seeming to be enjoying it a little too much. Jake loses his shirt again, much to the female audience’s delight.
Cop shows are all fun and dandy, but this show has character and heart. The action is over-the-top, but the people and city are believable. Quite simply, Jake Doyle is the incarnation of all those tales that guys tell at the pub, and the whole point of telling those stories is because not only might one get a free drink, but no one is going to enjoy the truth. Then again, some people are just that extraordinary.
Season 6, Episode 3 (Murdoch on the Corner)
Classic whodunit plot: you have a quirky locale, a quirky set of characters, and a seemingly baffling mystery that results in a number of people dead in a bizarrely similar manner despite having no apparent connection whatsoever.
Which of the characters is the killer?
I had it pretty sure from about the middle of the episode, when the same character kept popping up for no apparent reason. Said person ended up being the only person who had any motive. Spoiler alert: it’s not the pizza man!
This is a relatively self-contained episode – no advancement in the Det. Murdoch/Dr. Ogden relationship, no over-arching mysteries, and the Constable Crabtree/Dr. Grace relationship was sweet and simply added in for colour. I notice that Crabtree and Dr. Grace have been discussing food a lot lately: first the early version of the hamburger a few episodes ago and now pizza. I guess all couples need something to fall back on as a discussion point, and food is as good as anything.
Season 5, Episode 12 (Death Gone Crazy)
I was two-for-two Monday in figuring out the killer in both Murdoch Mysteries and Castle. When they revealed the murderer at the end of this episode, I actually said “I knew it!” aloud. I only figured it out two scenes before it was revealed, but still, I certainly was not surprised. Up until that point, I was thinking “not him, not her, not him” every time another suspect appeared.
Family values was a theme in this episode. The murder victim was certainly no family man, but he was willing to clean up his act to prove himself otherwise. The end of the episode left a young unmarried woman with her child’s father dead and her own conservative father taking her home from the police station. Castle and Beckett are unsure of how things will work out for them. If the woman’s father, who hated the murder victim for running a fictional version of “Girls Gone Wild”, really was a believer in family values, he and his daughter (and eventual grandchild) would be fine. That is the true meaning of family values. Of course the woman’s father would be upset, but he would forgive his daughter and accept her child. Our kids make bad choices sometimes and have to live with the consequences. Family is family. That is family values – protesting immoral behaviour is just window-dressing – or at least, it should be.