Some great things about working from home:
1. I sit in a comfy robe all day
2. Endless tea
3. I hang out with Spaniels
4. I watch Murdoch Mysteries on break
I’d never heard of the Murdoch Mysteries before coming to live with Becca, my boss at Scary Little Girls, this month. “It’s an amazing feminist procedural set in Toronto while it was still a colony,” she explained between bites of tea (dinner). Sounds okay.
It stare out great - female coroner, interesting racial and class commentary, but there was one thing that fell flat. Murdoch.
"He’s just so boring. All he talks about is geeky invention. He gets eclipsed by the other characters," I whined.
But after two week of watching daily reruns, I absolutely love him.
What I dismissed as blandness was really Catholic reservation. In American TV, the male leads are always brash, all “I am the law.” Peacocking to defend their deep vulnerability (or so they say). Castle from Castle, Booth from Bones, both the guys from White Collar.
To come upon a male lead who is quiet, allows others to speak and really listens, who feels no need to brandish his intellect… Well, at first he just seems boring. Who wants to watch a guy do nothing? But after a while you realise that because Murdoch doesn’t attempt to steal the show, he gives space for others to show their personalities. He is often perplexed but respectful of the smart, feminist Dr. Ogden (his on-again, off-again love interest), and much of his time at the police station is spent placating his traditionally masculine constable.
The scenes between Constable Crabtree and Detective Murdoch reveal just how different Murdoch is from traditional male tropes. When faced with increased aggression from Crabtree, he always suggests the path of restraint. He isn’t the ‘wild bullet’ intent on justice. He’s calm, cool and still charming in a naive, geeky way (he’s a total geek, tinkering with tech).
Detective Murdoch’s rejection of the classic hyper-masculine male lead characteristics is a refreshing change from muscle men often idolised in mainstream T.V.