I love historical costumes. I’m interested in most eras, but I especially love the Victorian period up through the early 60s–and it just so happens that those years were a typewriter heyday. Over the next few posts, I’ll explore some of the shows/movies that I’ve seen recently (or would like to see again) that bring them together.
The Murdoch Mysteries
This Canadian series recently wrapped up it’s 6th (and as far as I can tell, final) season. Seasons 1-3 are out on DVD, with season 4 just released in the past week.
Set in Victorian Toronto (mid 1890s-early 1900s), the titular character of Detective William Murdoch is played by Yannick Basson, a scientifically minded member of the Toronto Constabulary. Pioneering the use of techniques such as UV fluorescence, tracing phone calls and recording conversations as well as the use of psychology to catch criminals and garner confessions, Murdoch is changing the landscape of the police force. To aid him in his endeavors is Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and the coroner, Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy).
I love the costumes in this series, especially the ones they choose for Dr. Ogden. She always looks extremely elegant, but always approachable. Another thing that I like–you frequently see her in the same costume or reusing costume pieces. Yes, I know it is a mark of budget constrictions, but it always bothers me in a tv series when every time a character pops up, they’re wearing something different. I frequently find myself wondering, “Exactly how many coats does she have? Where does she keep all of those dresses?” I feel that by giving her a staple wardrobe for day-to-day use, it makes her character more realistic. [Historical Note: Dr. Ogden is based on the real-life Dr. Julia Byrne, who worked in Toronto around the same time period.]
The men’s fashion isn’t quite so stunning as the ladies, but this is generally the case. I will say, however, that I love all of the waistcoats and cravats. I love a man in a waistcoat.
For the most part, typewriters only get a passing glance in this series, but on several occasions (in later seasons; I don’t think it even shows up until the second half of season 2) we do see Murdoch using an Oliver. A number 5, perhaps? Mostly only the arched typebars are visible, not enough for me and my piddly knowledge of the machines to be able to identify it.
If you love history, you will adore this series. Episodic characters include Tessla, H.G. Wells, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s a must watch.