"A Merry Murdoch Christmas" is the first stand-alone two hour Christmas special that aired on December 21, 2015 in Canada, and on December 20, 2015 in France.
"The thing that I like the most about having the opportunity to do a Christmas special is that it means Murdoch Mysteries has become one of those shows that is loved and admired by a strong loyal audience," said the weekly drama's executive producer, Peter Mitchell.
The special follows Detective Murdoch and the team at Station House No. 4 who are called to investigate when a rich philanthropist is murdered, which may result in many of Toronto’s underprivileged losing Christmas after the presents he hands out every year go missing. As the investigation unfolds, Murdoch believes he has found the murderer in one Cyrus Lynch, but when he turns up dead and the presents are still missing, Murdoch and colleagues have to find out who killed him.
On a snowy night before Christmas, Murdoch and Ogden are attending a party at the McGowan mansion with Inspector Brackenreid, his wife Margaret and Constables Crabtree and Higgins. The evening’s guests, who include orphans and patients from the Hospital for Sick Children, are being treated to a production of The Little Match Girl featuring a young Mary Pickford in the title role. But for the children the real treat is when Mr. Rankin and hostess Mrs. Millicent McGowan introduce their special guest, St. Nick. Unfortunately, when the curtain lifts to reveal Alister McGowan, the philanthropist host in a Santa suit, he’s lifeless and the generously donated gifts for the needy children have been stolen.
As Murdoch investigates McGowan’s murder, he learns the local business tycoon was avowed enemies with his former partner Cyrus Lynch. The Toronto Constabulary is unable to locate their prime suspect, but has little difficulty finding the missing booty, which is being handed out on the street by a man claiming to be the real St. Nick. Despite the protestations of his helper, Mary Pickford, they arrest him.
For Brackenreid, the crime brings up sour memories of childhood Christmas disappointments, leading him to admonish Constable Jackson for putting up holiday decorations in the stationhouse. Meanwhile, Crabtree is sullen when his own plans go awry and it appears he will be alone for the holidays. But when nefarious forces intent on tarnishing the spirit and goodwill of the season suddenly appear, Murdoch realizes that in addition to solving a terrible crime, he must also save Christmas.
- Young Thomas was visited by Krampus after an argument with his father which explains the Inspector's 'Humbug' attitude towards Christmas.
- Constable Slugger Jackson has the Spirit of Christmas.
- George believes in Krampus but not Kris Kringle.
- Rare moment, if not the first time, George calls Dr. Ogden by her first name.
- Julia is on the Naughty List according to Kris Kringle, after her "Unwrap me, William!" Christmas Eve surprise for William, which turns out to be an altogether shock for herself, William and George!
- The reason for Inspector Brackenreid's 'Bah Humbug!' attitude also explains the opening scene of Twentieth Century Murdoch when he says, "Christmas seem to hit me harder each year, Murdoch," and he missed Margaret's rum pudding that Christmas.
- Constable Jackson finally has a Christmas tree up in the Station House, with a constable's hat atop it, the last time was in Twentieth Century Murdoch, the season episode set during the holidays.
- William experiments with his first Christmas tree lights, to replace candles which are a fire hazard.
- Crabtree's Aunts are still full of surprises.
- A woman of action once again, Julia Ogden delivers and prompts, "...always enjoy a good Christmas punch" from the Inspector.
- George and Julia have seen each other in the altogether in Murdoch Au Naturel; they share an unexpected intimacy in this one, too.
- By the conclusion, there are nearly twelve Jilliam kisses and a very happy Crabtree.
- Mary Pickford was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was known as "America's Sweetheart".
- Hospital for Sick Children (or "Sick Kids") at its University Avenue location is on the grounds where Canadian-born movie star Mary Pickford's childhood home once stood.
- Margaret makes eggnog for the first time. The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk.The "nog" part of its name may stem from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. However, the British drink was also called an Egg Flip, from the practice of "flipping" (rapidly pouring) the mixture between two pitchers to mix it.
- The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. He is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts.
- The invention of the incubator in 1880 ignited a dramatic outpouring of popular and professional excitement over the prospect of reducing pre-mature infant mortality. Yet the technology itself progressed slowly and fitfully over the next 50 years.
- This two-hour holiday special features homages and references to a significant number of beloved Christmas stories and movies:
- The pantomime The Little Match Girl is based on a fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), it was first published December 1845.
- Brackenreid's humbug attitude toward Christmas is a reference to Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol; Margaret even refers to him as "Ebenezer", ("I heard that, Margaret!" "Good!");
- Likewise, the character Robert Kratchet is a reference to Ebenezer Scrooge's assistant Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.
- A cart can be seen on the streets of Toronto selling "Open Fire Roasted Chestnuts", a reference to "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)".
- The subplot of an old man dressed as Santa Claus and believing himself to be so while others believe him to be not in the right state of mind is a reference to Miracle on 34th Street.
- The plot point of a beast who sets out to steal presents and ruin Christmas is a reference to Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The initial suspect is a Mr. Lynch.
- A sad and depressed Crabtree on a bridge in a flurry of snow, recalling voices from earlier that day, is reminiscent of another George on a bridge in the Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life.
- Murdoch's struggle with his electric Christmas lights (causing a blackout) is a reference to a similar scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
- When Crabtree and Higgins are on the street collecting donations, a small boy walks by with a small, spindly Christmas tree in a reference to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- On Christmas Day, four boys are seen running down the street with hockey sticks; three are wearing blue Toronto hockey sweaters, while the last is wearing a red Montreal sweater. This is a reference to the classic Canadian short story The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, though with the teams reversed.
- This holiday special is a stand-alone and has no through-lines from the season; All of the main characters are involved with no mention of past story lines. The actual script running time is 90mins.
- Former chief correspondent of CBC News Peter Mansbridge makes a cameo appearance as the Mayor's Aide, saying to him: "What did I tell you about talking to the police - on your own?"
- The first-ever holiday special for Murdoch Mysteries: nearly two million (1.969M) Canadians enjoyed the gift of the inaugural two-hour holiday special, making it the highest-rated Murdoch Mysteries ever. Overall, it reached 3.5 million Canadians – or 10% of the population – over the course of the two-hour broadcast.
- According to CBC, the special is independent from season 9; however continuity wise it comes after Pipe Dreamzzz and before Raised On Robbery.
- CBC News’ chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, makes a cameo appearance as the Toronto mayor’s aide.
- The characters Mr & Mrs. Millicent McGowan are named after Michael McGowan, who directed the special.
- 'Mr. Rankin' may be a nod to Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (founded as Videocraft International, Ltd.) an American production company, known for its seasonal television specials, particularly its work in stop motion animation.
- Georgina Reilly is absent from the special, as her character departed the show in the episode Double Life.
- Second time a Downton Abbey cast member guest stars; the first time was in Winston's Lost Night.
- Both a foreshadow and sly timestamp nod in the closing shot's skyline: In 1904, the Pevely Dairy Company was asked to provide milk for the St. Louis World's Fair; The World's Fair is a central story point for Brackenreid in Season 10.
- The Murdoch Homburg hat ornament Julia gifted William was sold at HMV Canada stores across the country.
- Writer Peter Mitchell wrote this episode while in Paris, in the middle of a heat wave.
- First ever brand integration between Murdoch Mysteries and SickKids who is celebrating their 140th anniversary. Children and staff appear as extras in the episode. Hélène Joy also appears in the Sickids PSA
- The third Murdoch Mysteries album A Merry Murdoch Christmas: Music from the Holiday Special by composer Robert Carli is released and available for download.
- At the 5th Canadian Screen Awards, Hélène Joy was nominated for Best Lead Actress, television film or miniseries, Peter Mitchell won for Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series, Robert Carli won Best Original Score, and Michael McGowan won Best Direction for A Merry Murdoch Christmas.
Lachlan Murdoch as Constable Henry Higgins
Kristian Bruun as Constable Slugger Jackson
Arwen Humphreys as Margaret Brackenreid
Jayden Greig as Bobby Brackenreid
David Huband as Mayor Clarkson
Tamara Bernier Evans as Aunt Azalea
Randall Edwards as Robert Kratchet
Jenny Young as Sick Kid's Staffer
Drew Davis as Kenneth
Alexander Davis as Young Brackenreid
Martin Kaye as Butcher
Gavin Williams as Tramp
Helen King as Lynch's Servant
Geoffrey Antoine as Groundsman
Steve Boleantu as Carnival Worker
Olivia Barrett as Mother
Thomas Craig as Brackenreid's Dad
John Mallett as Reporter #1
Chris Boyle as Reporter #2
Makenna Beatty as Little Girl
Jaxson Riley Scher as Child
Rod Campbell as McGowan Butler
Leah Black as Grandmother
Jennifer Gee as Passerby
Keller Viane as Girl One