William Shatner to guest on “The Artful Detective”

Artful Detective Channel Guide Contributor

If you have not been a regular viewer of the previous eight seasons of The Artful Detective do not let that stop you from taking a look. The series is one of Ovation’s most popular shows, as well as an international success, airing under the title of Murdoch Mysteries on the CBC for years. The new season of The Artful Detective, which is set in Toronto around the turn of the 20th century, premieres Saturday, January 23 at 7pmET on Ovation. William Shatner will make a special guest appearance in Episode 2.

Artful Detective
Season 9 takes place in 1903 and explores the world of Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) a dashing gentleman who creates innovative forensic techniques to solve the murders of the day.

Executive producer of the series, Christina Jennings, was asked at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour if it was difficult to find and shoot period-appropriate locations in Toronto. “To be honest, Toronto did a very good job of destroying much of our history, so we have to shoot in and around Toronto, and then, of course, the magic of visual effects,” she continues. “We have taken postcards of the time, and then we’ve animated them, so that’s our challenge.”

The series uses postcards of the time to create the backdrops, scenery and the mood of the period. I reside in Toronto and when I watch the show I am hard pressed to tell what is real and what is not. You will not recognize the Canada of today. Detective Murdoch’s Canada is an English Canada. A Canada populated primarily by English and French and ruled by the Monarchy.

Bisson (Detective Murdoch) finds the Victorian period romantic. “Back then, I think, as far as I’ve learned over the years of doing this show, people were aspiring to something,” he explains. “They were aspiring to order and to decency and manners and etiquette and so on. So there was a constant sort of striving for being proper. And I think a lot of that isn’t lost on people nowadays. That sort of Victorian romantic type of show never does fully ever go away. There’s always a new one that comes along.”

The series certainly captures all those ideals making it fun to watch and experience what we are missing in the 21st century. You may pine for a return of manners but not corsets or top hats or unpaved muddy streets .

Watching the series, I enjoy having my feet planted in both centuries as does the actor Yannick Bisson who would rather live in the now and have his iPhone.

Murdoch is a man ahead of his time. Without the tools we have today to solve crimes, Murdoch creates them or — in the case of the first episode, he applies the science of the time to identify stains on a paper bag that provide the clues he needs.

Once he resolves the question of the stains and does some clever leg work, he is able to solve the murder that takes place in the first episode and cast doubt on the incarceration of Constable George Crabtree, who is in prison for a crime he may not have committed. Murdoch proves his innocence.

Murdoch, however, does not work alone. His team consists of Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) and Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly) who continue to solve the unsolvable and confront each case with wit, wisdom and innovation.

Episode 2 features William Shatner as author and humorist Mark Twain.

Modern technology actually brought Shatner to the series. His appearance was prompted by a social media exchange on Twitter. Yannick received a message asking, “When are you going to have Bill Shatner on the show?”

Yannick retweeted it and tagged Shatner who responded with a shoulder shrug followed by “I don’t know.”

The door was open and Yannick emailed Christina Jennings: “We gotta do this.” You will see the happy results in Episode 2 “Marked Twain” on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7pm.