"Twentieth Century Murdoch" is the thirteenth episode of the fifth season of the Murdoch Mysteries and the sixty-fifth episode of the series. It first aired on May 22, 2012 (UK).


It's Christmas-time and the dawn of the new century but for Detective Murdoch, there are crimes to be solved. Gideon Turner escapes custody and prevents a man from being killed on the street. He claims he knew it was going to happen because he has traveled to the future. Murdoch is dubious, needless to say, and has Turner examined by Dr. Roberts at the insane asylum where he also meets Julia Ogden who has taken an interest in psychiatry. The man behind it all is Professor Harms and as his time machine begins to gain believers, he seems to be making a fortune. Murdoch is convinced there is a realistic scientific explanation for what is happening. Meanwhile, Crabtree frets over asking Dr. Grace to accompany him to the Policeman's Ball on New Year's Eve and Inspector Brackenreid weighs-up a job offer.

Character Revelations

  • Murdoch spent Christmas with the Brackenreids and enjoys Margaret's rum pudding.
  • Brackenreid considers an offer to become Chief Constable of Ottawa, the federal capital of Canada, in southeastern Ontario.
  • William and Julia paths cross at the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, whereupon she tells him of the new treatment she has undergone with Dr. Roberts to cure of her nightmares since being buried alive.
  • Darcy has the realization that Julia is still in love with Murdoch.
  • Dr. Roberts is diagnosed with Huntington's chorea.
  • When Professor Harms was teaching at the polytechnic in Zurich, one of his students, an Albert Einstein, suggested a radical way to reconcile the laws of mechanics with Maxwell's equations.
  • Prof. Harms and Dr. Roberts are related.
  • William tells Julia that he has seen the future and it was her: William shows his "son" the principles of the hot air balloon with Julia at his side.
  • William and Julia kiss in this episode.


Historical References

  • Parallel dimensions, and alternate futures are alluded to by Murdoch and one Professor Harms.
  • Maxwell's equations represent one of the most elegant and concise ways to state the fundamentals of electricity and magnetism, the mathematical distillation of Gauss', Faraday's, and Ampere's Laws plus decades of experimental observations. They are named after the physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who published an early form of those equations between 1861 and 1862.
  • Huntington's chorea, more commonly known as Huntington's disease today, is a rare hereditary degenerative nerve disease with no current treatment that can cure the disorder.
  • Ottawa, On December 31, 1857, Queen Victoria chose it to be the common capital for the Province of Canada (modern Quebec and Ontario), located right on the border of Canada East and Canada West making it a compromise between the two colonies and their French and English populations.
  • Redheffer's perpetual motion machine was operated by a man using a crank in a room on the floor above, yet it was patented in 1820.
  • P.T. Barnum's display of the "Feejee (also known as Fiji) Mermaid" was comprised of the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, originally exhibited in 1842.
  • George says that a machine to analyze fingerprints would never replace a human, referring to the criminal database we have today.
  • Forensic accounting is also subtly referred to as Brackenreid attempts to follow the money to figure out what the professor is using it for.


  • Season 5 final episode does not end with a cliffhanger.
  • This episode is the final episode produced by CityTV before the MM producers moved to CBC.
  • This is the first Christmas (more Boxing Day) and New Years episode, where as A Merry Murdoch Christmas (2015) is the first-time stand alone two-hour holiday special.


  • With the line, "Sitting behind a desk in Ottawa is no place for Thomas S. Brackenreid.", the error in Thomas Charles Brackenreid's middle initial is made for the second time in this episode, the first was in Who Killed the Electric Carriage? It will be repeated in Murdoch on the Corner, and Murdoch au Naturel before it is corrected.
  • Santa shoots with a lever action shotgun and still a spent shot shell is found on the ground.
  • Dr. Ogden refers to Emil Kraepelin as a psychologist. He was a German psychiatrist (a M.D. unlike psychologists), one of the most influential of his time, who developed a classification system for mental illness that influenced subsequent classifications. Kraepelin made distinctions between schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis that remain valid today.


Main Cast

Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch


Hélène Joy as Julia Ogden
Thomas Craig as Thomas Brackenreid
Jonny Harris as George Crabtree
Georgina Reilly as Emily Grace

Recurring Cast

Lachlan Murdoch as Constable Henry Higgins
Arwen Humphreys as Margaret Brackenreid
Nigel Bennett as Chief Constable Giles
Jonathan Watton as Dr. Darcy Garland
Paul Amos as Dr. Roberts

Guest Cast

Colin Buchanan as Professor Harms
Joe Cobden as Gideon Turner
Benjamin Clost as Teddy Nelson (Reporter)
Frank Chiesurin as Seth Morgan
Nicholas Bode as William Murdoch Jr.
Ellen Dubin as Mrs. Haversham
Andrew Gillies as Robert Denman
Emily Hurson as Bystander
Billy Oliver as Santa Claus


Murdoch Mysteries Season 5
"Murdoch of the Klondike" • "Back and to the Left" • "Evil Eye of Egypt" • "War on Terror" • "Murdoch at the Opera" • "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 1)" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 2)" • "Invention Convention" • "Staircase to Heaven" • "Murdoch in Toyland" • "Murdoch Night in Canada" • "Twentieth Century Murdoch"
Web-Series: The Murdoch Effect
Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 6Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10
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