Murdoch Mysteries vs The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Different hemispheres, different eras… yet these two cunning crime shows have a surprising amount in common…

Murdoch v Blake.

Craig McLachlan as Dr Lucien Blake and Yannick Bisson as Detective William Murdoch.

THE HEROES

Murdoch Mysteries: William Murdoch is a delightful contradiction. How can someone so daring, so scientifically adventurous, so unafraid to tinker and experiment, be so "proper" and even repressed when it comes to his emotions? Well, we can blame the era he was born in. Fortunately, his rather stiffly formal demeanor rather suits the man - after all, he does look rather dashing in his impeccable attire, and his poised, controlled manner earns the respect of colleagues and admiration of ladies.

Doctor Blake Mysteries: Lucien Blake may hail from a later generation, and a very different culture, but he has more similarities with William Murdoch than you can shake a magnifying glass at. He, too, is a man of science and logic. Clinically observant (well, he IS a doctor), Blake has the kind of cloudless, clear thinking which makes him a formidable opponent to any murderers and scoundrels who dare to stalk his corner of Australia. One big difference is that Blake has more emotional scars than Murdoch, thanks to his horrific wartime experiences and the family he left behind in the Far East.

Picture from Dr Blake Mysteries - Series 2.

Picture from Dr Blake Mysteries - Series 2.

THE ROMANCE

Murdoch Mysteries: There are love stories, and then there's William Murdoch and Julia Ogden's love story. This has to be one of the greatest, most turbulent romances ever to unfold on the small screen - a romance that's been full of comedy and tragedy, hot desire and cold hurt. Intellectually, the two are perfectly matched - making for some electric banter while cracking cases. The path has been far from smooth, though - Murdoch couldn't handle the fact she'd had an abortion, and then there was that time she married another man who then got murdered. The fact William and Julia managed to tie the knot after all of that says a lot about the level of their love.

Doctor Blake Mysteries: As with Murdoch Mysteries, there's a will-they-won't-they relationship at the heart of Doctor Blake Mysteries. This one is more subtle, though, partly because both Lucien Blake and the lady in question, Jean Beazley, are bound by the social rules of their time. Blake is technically still married, having had a family during the dark days of World War Two, while Beazley is a widow with a very steadfast moral compass. They're clearly destined to end up together, but - as with William and Julia - they'll have to overcome a lot to get there.

Murdoch, Brackenreid and Dr. Grace showing their grandeur and high social class through their dress. 
(Picture from Murdoch Mysteries Series 7 -

Murdoch, Brackenreid and Dr. Grace showing their grandeur and high social class through their dress. (Picture from Murdoch Mysteries Series 7 - "The Murdoch Sting").

THE SETTING

Murdoch Mysteries: We're whisked into the glittering world of late Victorian Toronto, a city perched between two eras. On the one hand, it's a realm of grand, opulent soirees, rigid social class and old fashioned values; on the other, it's all about the birth of forensic science, innovations in technology, and people who can't help rebelling against the old order of things. Murdoch himself embodies both aspects of his time: a dapper and often repressed 19th Century gentleman who also dares to face the future and challenge conventional thinking.

Doctor Blake Mysteries: At first glance, the context of the Doctor Blake Mysteries couldn't be more different. We're in a different century and a different hemisphere. Instead of 1890s Canada, we're in late 50s Australia. There are similarities though. Here, too, we see a society that's transforming. The old status quo is being challenged by the younger generation, and the fallout from World War Two has inspired rebellion from teenagers and Teddy boys. Yet, as with Murdoch Mysteries, there's still a strict code of etiquette to which most people conform - even if it means swallowing down their real emotions.

THE THEMES

Murdoch Mysteries: If you had to sum up the major theme of Murdoch Mysteries, you could say it's all about the old vs the new. Murdoch pushes boundaries with every case, despite the blustering bafflement of the local cops, who are still stuck in the conventions of the 19th Century. You can hear the march of time in every episode, as Murdoch meets real-life trailblazers like scientist Nikola Tesla and the young Winston Churchill, and creates prototypes of lie detectors and security cameras. Exhilarating stuff, unless you happen to be the long-suffering Inspector Brackenreid.

Doctor Blake Mysteries: The march of time is also a major theme of Doctor Blake Mysteries, although it's handled a bit differently. While Murdoch Mysteries skirts close to science fiction, what with the flamboyant inventions which William comes up with, this show is more about the big changes in society. We see the rise of pop culture, with rock 'n' roll hitting the airwaves and TV shows becoming a phenomenon. The various story arcs also explore the rise in civil rights issues, attitudes to the poor, and the long, painful process of recovering from the global carnage of World War Two. Something which Blake himself has to get on with...