With ABC’s shows taking a break this week, this blogpost has turned into free advertising for the CBC. (With my limited network viewing, I have since discovered that there are lots of commercials that I’m thankfully missing out on.)
REPUBLIC OF DOYLE
Season 4, Episode 4 (Carlotta’s Way)
Main plot: A little girl has been abducted. The Doyles have been hired to figure out who has her, pay the ransom money, and reclaim the girl safe from harm — all without using the police. The plot grows more complicated by the minute and various people all seem to have motive for taking the girl. The poor little girl had a terrible luck at the parent lottery, and of all people, her stepfather is the one that is most distraught over her disappearance. Take that, genetics!
Side plot 1: Leslie is getting deep undercover and seems to be enjoying herself a little too much. Jake is understandably worried about her. He has grown up a lot character-wise.
Side plot 2: Tinny confronts her biological father and finally admits to him why she is interested in him — namely that he is her father. This will of course shake up the Doyle clan considerably. On the other hand, Des and Tinny now can add “imprisoned dads” to their list of things to bond over. In another take that at genetics, Des reassures Tinny that just because their fathers are criminals does not make them criminal by nature. He reminds her that he couldn’t even steal a bag of chips from a cornerstore. Tinny is a bit more of a wildcard — I do hope they keep developing her character more now that she is an adult.
The story was told so that we were kept intrigued by the side plots while focusing on the main mystery at hand. We had both an open-and-shut case (which is a nice thing for a detective story) and ongoing character arcs to keep things interesting. It seems that the next episode (in two weeks, curses on the Superbowl!) will focus on Leslie’s story. Considering that she spent nearly all of the previous season as a grumpy sergeant behind a desk, this is a refreshing change.
Season 6, Episode 4 (A Study in Sherlock)
I admit, I love Sherlock Holmes stories, but I have not read many of the originals yet. Many of the references in this episode went over my head, but I knew enough to notice them. Hopefully I will be inspired to actually read the stories that I have on my e-reader.
This episode is a fairly typical Murdoch Mysteries tale. The one addition is a mysterious young man who acts like (and dresses like) Sherlock Holmes. He picks up clues before Murdoch does. He seems to understand the plot. He insists that Moriarty is behind the crimes being committed, and even a meeting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does not deter his conviction that he himself is, in fact, Sherlock Holmes.
Of course, this show has room for only one fictional detective, and that would be Murdoch himself. Thankfully, the writers did not actually bring Holmes into the story as a real character — but there is a dark secret behind this young man, and it brings Murdoch directly into a Sherlock-style plot. Holmes may not be real, nor Moriarty, but there is someone who desperately wants something and has been waiting over a decade for revenge, and he will not hesitate to kill anyone who gets too close to the clues.
And now for something new!
CRACKED (Season 1) – Mid-Season Report (Four episodes have aired so far)
Fast-forward a hundred and thirteen years, and Toronto is now a metropolis with glassy skyscrapers and superhighways. Psychology of criminals is still a new frontier for law enforcement, however. Now the “Metropolis Police” have set up an experimental unit to deal with crimes that involve people suspected of having a mental illness. The unit is made up of police officers and medical professionals, but otherwise is a typical detective show so far. Despite having the CN Tower in the title card, the name of the city is largely unmentioned. So far the show has stayed clear of legal issues and while clearly set in Canada, this is not obvious. However, this is also not a distraction.
Fundamentally, this is a story about a central detective, his new psychiatrist-turned-investigator partner, and their colleagues. The main detective, ominously-named Detective Black, has serious ghosts in his past that make him slightly unstable, but also one who can sympathize and connect with mentally ill suspects and victims. The captain has his partner report to her regarding Det. Black’s mental condition behind his back, which causes his partner to question how he can trust her. I hope this underlying tension plays out well.
Thankfully, the two leads may be male and female, but they do not yet have a romantic arc together. I really wish more works would promote the idea that men and women can be colleagues without being lovers. Still we’re only four episodes into the show. I might be proved wrong again.
Looking at the promotional photo for this show, one could be forgiven for thinking that it seems to be too politically-correct. While the photograph seems that way, the show doesn’t, except where the mentally ill are concerned. Frankly, the mentally ill being treated with respect should not be an issue of political correctness.
Whether this show has any staying power remains to be seen, but it has been enjoyable on its own already.
ARCTIC AIR (Season 2) – Mid-Season Report (Four (+10 from Season 1) episodes aired so far)
Last year, this show seemed to be full of cliches and had trouble deciding what type of show it was. Arctic Air is not a mystery, but a straight-up drama it isn’t either. There is a lot of action and adventure, befitting a show set in a northern airline. It is set equally in Yellowknife, NWT (which is a fairly urban place) and in the Arctic wilderness, or the air above it. The blend of urban and rural serves the show well: there can be an influx of characters, there is access to modern conveniences, and the characters do not feel like a rehash of rural stereotypes. Like in Republic of Doyle, the setting is intrinsically part of the show. Nothing would be the same if it were set elsewhere. However, there is no attempt to be quaint, cutesy, or timeless about it either.
The second season has been a drastic improvement over the first. Now that the show has found its feet, it can explore the characters more. The formula this season has been to have one central mystery or crisis plotline (that usually involves the star, Adam Beach’s Bobby Martin) that functions much like a body-of-the-week plot in a detective story. Last year, these central plots were not as clear. The central plot is then fleshed out by smaller side plots involving other characters which continue from episode to episode: family issues, marital issues, unresolved sexual tension, fear of flying after having survived a major disaster, a diamond mine that threatens the environment, unpopular politically-incorrect opinions, cultural divides, etc. Unfortunately, some of these characters do not appear in every episode, but the writers have definitely given them more to work with this second season. The first four episodes have gone well so far.