Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Murdoch Mysteries: CBC police drama gets thumbs up from real Toronto police officer

My Mom loved Murdoch Mysteries.  Everytime she saw it, she would say how handsome Yannick Bisson is.  I had a great laugh on New Year's Eve when the Air Farce had Bisson as a guest and lampooned his 'handsome' status.  Mom would have laughed too.
I was interested in this article to see how much research the writers must do to get the 'forsenics' right.
Published on Monday January 07, 2013
Karissa Donkin, Toronto Star


Karissa Donkin
Staff Reporter
Toronto police Staff Sgt. John Spanton can usually feel his blood pressure rising when he tunes into modern police dramas.
Spanton, an “old-time copper” who has nearly 30 years of policing under his belt, says the portrayal of police work in most cop shows is “totally inaccurate.” Everything from the way the officers act to the accuracy of their gunfire makes him cringe.
“The whole shooting thing, guys jumping from cars, it doesn’t happen that way,” he said.
But there is one police drama that has captured his heart for its accurate portrayal of policing in Toronto.
About four years ago, Spanton started watching MurdochMysteries, following the detective work of William Murdoch (played by Yannick Bisson) in Victorian-era Toronto, and he hasn’t looked back since. Murdoch Mysteries premieres its sixth season Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Like Inspector Murdoch, Spanton works in 51 Division, policing neighbourhoods such as Cabbagetown and Regent Park. Spanton is in charge of the community response unit, officers who work with residents to deal with everything from noise complaints to reports of gang activity.
“Apparently, 100 years ago, there was a drug problem in Regent Park. In Cabbagetown (and) Regent Park, I’d suggest there still is.”
He’s impressed by the amount of research that goes into producing an episode of Murdoch Mysteries. The drama revolves around Murdoch’s ability to use what was then “new” technology to solve puzzling crimes.
“He understood the importance of securing a crime scene and looking at what it offers. They didn’t have DNA — DNA didn’t come in until the ’90s — but they could do a blood spatter analysis. They could do blood typing, which is the forerunner of DNA, on a way simpler scale,” Spanton said.
“They’ve done their homework, because they’re pretty good. They don’t go beyond what was there for the time.”
One episode in particular stands out in his mind, “a show where a young copper was murdered.”
He saw officers cope with the young man’s death much the way they would today. He was also impressed by the investigative techniques used to solve the crime.
“There was a weapon involved and there was blood spatter (analysis) involved. We use that today,” Spanton said.
“As soon as you find a crime scene, you secure it. And you don’t just secure a room, you secure an area. You can see that in the show. He’s recognized the importance of doing that.”
Peter Mitchell, an executive producer of Murdoch Mysteries, said the show’s writers mostly use books to find out what resources were available to officers in 1900. When they need them, they also consult experts on subjects like ballistics and forensics.
Before writers begin penning scripts for a new season, they spend a month reviewing what happened in the world that year to try to pull storylines from history.
If something could have potentially happened, or if a detective could have possibly known about and used a certain type of technology in that era, Mitchell said they’ll write it into the show.
“We try and be accurate without it becoming a documentary,” Mitchell said.
The sixth season of Murdoch Mysteries will see the detective trying to find personal happiness with Dr. Julia Ogden (played by Hélène Joy), who has just started a new job as a psychiatrist.
Spanton eagerly awaits Monday’s premiere, and not just to see what kind of crime Murdoch will solve next.
“I hope the coroner and Murdoch get back together. They made a good team.”

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