Murdoch Mysteries 6 -- In the good old days, one could watch a mystery series on television or recordings in any order since there were seldom if any references to former plots. But if you watched "Midsomer Murders" for example from season to season, you could see Barnaby take on different sidekicks as he, his wife and his daughter grew older.
And if you are watching the "Murdoch Mysteries," you can see the relationship develop between Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and his pathologist -- eventually to be psychiatrist -- Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) -- and in this new series between Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and the new pathologist Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly).
And we now are up to "Murdoch Mysteries, Season 6," released by Acorn Media in a set of 13 episodes on four discs. More time is being spent on the subplots, especially the Murdoch-Ogden one; but they in no way tie in with the mystery plot of that episode. Actually, they do in the last two episodes, which comprise a two-parter in which the lovers are very much involved. But I will leave that to the viewer.
In the major subplot, Julia’s husband turns nasty and would rather see no man get her than he give her a divorce. Of how the lovers handle this situation I will remain silent. And while Murdoch’s boss, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) has become very sympathetic to the former’s approach to crime, Chief Constable Gilles (Nigel Bennett) takes on the role of unsympathetic superior.
But it is, of course, the mysteries that matter. As happened in the earlier seasons, some of the plots get silly when 1900 versions of modern inventions are used or when famous people of that time are mentioned or appear. So one could accept a character who honestly thinks he is Sherlock Holmes, but things get a little too much when Arthur Conan Doyle appears to talk the young man out of it.
Sillier yet is setting a good deal of an episode inside a nudist colony. Well, one gets to see a lot of rear ends. However, all the females manage to have long hair that conveniently hides bosoms, while (sillier still) both sexes are forever either standing behind fences or other opaque objects or (silliest of all) carrying baskets or other props to hide "the naughty parts" (as Monty Python would put it). Why bother to use a nudist colony to start with?
But I do love the costumes and shots of 1900 Toronto (be they the actual buildings or computer-generated images); and I still wonder how Murdoch gets around town by bicycle on rainy or snowy days.
Each episode runs about 45 minutes and the subtitles make life easier for those with hearing problems.
Photo -- Athena Learning has come out with a most interesting two-DVD set, titled "Photo, a History from Behind the Lens." It consists of 12 films of 25 minutes each by Stan Neumann, Alain Nahum and Juliette Garcias that are designed to trace the history of photography and to show (to quote the press release) "how photographers go beyond documentary precision, endeavoring to interpret the world they live in rather than merely capturing it."
The first disc presents "Surrealist Photography," "The Primitives of Photography, 1850-1860" [these two are best seen in reverse order], "The New German Objectivity," "Staged Photography," "Press Usage" and "Pictorialism." On the second disc are "New Vision: Experimental Photography of the 1920s," "Photographing Intimacy," "The Inventors," "Found Images," "Conceptual Photography" and "After the Photo."
I found "Photographing Intimacy" to be a study of people who thought the whole world was interested in them and who simply enjoyed providing voyeurs with lots of material to drool over. (This reminds me of what the law said about the nude beauties in Ziegfeld Follies shows: If they don’t move, it’s art.)
The presentations are made even more interesting by toying with them in Monty Python-like sequences of moving parts and by showing the original shots and then cropping them to what was finally shown to the public. These motion picture techniques make a study of still photos considerably more interesting.
The picture is in 16:9 widescreen and there are subtitles. The usual Athena booklet helps explain a lot of the background and technical terms.
Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts & Entertainment section.