By now you should really know if you're a fan of 'Murdoch Mysteries' or not. If you've reached season five, chances are you've been picking up each of these seasons as they're being released. Sure Acorn Media has gone a roundabout way bringing each season to the format, but they've been diligent in doing so. Now we find ourselves caught up with the show, as the sixth season is currently airing on television right now. No doubt Acorn will release that one when it's finished.
The fifth season continues along with the tested and true formula of the show. Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) solves crimes around Toronto during the turn of the century. The beginnings of modern technology are beginning to take hold and Murdoch, a man of science, is eager to use these technologies when it comes to solving crimes and apprehending criminals.
As the show has continued on, it has taken on a much more serialized structure. In the first couple seasons there were a few story arcs that carried throughout a season – like Murdoch's long-time crush on Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) – but for the most part each episode stood on its own. You could pop in during the middle of a season and pick right up with the characters, the show's purpose, and the formulaic detective storylines it produces.
However, as the seasons have worn on the show has become much more dependent on episodes referring to previous episodes. While the investigations themselves tend to still standalone, there are far many more storylines that are carried from episode to episode, so watching each episode in chronological order has become necessary.
Season five starts a little while after season four ended, but if you didn't watch the season four finale then you'd be mostly lost during the season five premiere.
Murdoch has moved up North. He's given up the detective business in favor of becoming a gold miner. It's not that gold mining is his true passion, just that he's trying to escape the terrible mistakes he made at the end of season four. He'd lost the woman he truly loved to another man and set a woman free that he had no business setting free. Turning in his badge and quitting the service seemed like his only option, so that's what he did.
It's obvious that his absence from the police department isn't going to last. You think that the show would focus an entire season watching Murdoch mine for gold? Of course while he's stuck up in the Yukon he runs across a dastardly murder plot that reigns him right back into the thick of things. He picks up his innate detective skills once again and gets to work. Solving that mystery helps him realize that being a policeman is his life's purpose. Soon after, the second episode settles right back down into that easy-breezy, 'Murdoch' police procedural that we're all used to.
Season five is full of some fun historical figure appearances, just like every other season. Murdoch crosses paths with Jack London, Henry Ford, and Alexander Graham Bell, just to name a few. The season moves along at a quick clip and is just as enjoyable as any of the other seasons that have come before. Once the finale rolls around, we find the show entering unknown territory. The new century has finally rolled around. The end of 1899 is here. What will the 20th Century bring for Murdoch and his detective exploits? Only time will tell.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a 3-disc set. The discs are 50GBs each. This season has 13 episodes. The first disc contains five episodes, while the other two discs contain four episodes each. The season comes packed in a standard keepcase with a swinging arm that houses two discs back-to-back. A slipcover is also provided.
The 1080p presentation provided for 'Murdoch Mysteries: Season 5' is pretty much identical to the nice-looking transfer that was found on the second season set. Detail resolution, for the most part, is very sharp. Woven textures of suits, cracks on aged leather, and detailing of lacy dresses are all visible.
Computer animated scenes of old Toronto skylines still look a bit hokey, but they're definitely getting better as the show progresses. Some softness and flatness creeps in from time to time. The show doesn't have a particularly filmic presence. It looks like a TV show, there's no mistaking that. However, the contrast is well-adjusted, colors are vibrant, and black areas harbor only minor instances of crushing.
Acorn hasn't really changed anything up here, so if you were a fan of the previous Blu-ray releases, then you'll most likely find this video presentation just as satisfactory.
The disappointment in the audio department continues, however. 'Murdoch Mysteries' plods along with a lossy 2.0 Dolby Digital mix that never really reaches its full potential. The third season was the only season to be released with a lossless track (although it wasn't terribly good either). From there on out it's been all lossy all the time.
Dialogue is clear enough. The show's music continues to sound like it's mixed too loudly compared to everything else going on. The show's opening titles are blaringly loud, along with transition scenes. The show could definitely benefit from ambient surround sound too.
So the show remains, stuck in two channels, producing a somewhat less-than-impressive audio mix. Don't get me wrong, you'll hear almost every word of dialogue, which is the most important thing, but the show lacks that enveloping effect.
I never thought I'd continue to like 'Murdoch Mysteries' as much as I do. I like that the show is progressively changing to a more serialized set of episodes. It makes me more interested to see what the characters will do and how their interactions will affect their long-term relationships. Acorn has done a great job with the video, but the audio, as always, could use some lossless goodness. It's kind of hard to give out a sweeping recommendation to season five of an obscure show, so I'm going to say this is for fans only (even though I think anyone can enjoy this show).