The first film, Except the Dying, finds Detective William Murdoch (Peter Outerbridge, Nikita) investigating the death of a beautiful young girl found naked in a seedy alleyway. Despite the location of her corpse, she doesn't appear to be a prostitute or "doxie" and was drugged and strangled. Murdoch questions the doxies living on the alley, including the alluring Ettie (Flora Montgomery), who catches Murdoch's usually stalwart eye.
Using techniques like fingerprinting or "finger marks" as they were called, Murdoch is led to the homes of some of the city's elite, as the murder victim was a young chambermaid for a prominent family. As he steps on wealthy toes during his investigation, he often raises the ire of his superior, Inspector Brackenreid (Colm Meaney, Star Trek: The Next Generation). Fortunately, the lovely Dr. Julia Ogden (Keeley Hawes, voice of Lara Croft) is holding the current role of medical examiner and the pair make an amazing crime-solving team. Murdoch has even managed to so thoroughly impress one of the young beat cops working under him, Constable Oliver Wicken (Philip Graeme), that he too wants to learn these new investigative techniques under Murdoch's tutelage.
In Poor Tom Is Cold, Murdoch finds himself investigating the apparent suicide of one of their own. Once again, Murdoch uses his techniques to determine that the bullet trajectory rules out suicide, even though his superiors want the case closed. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden will have to work very hard to make sure that justice is served for the young constable and as they dig deeper, they find out he was secretly engaged to be married. Could his intended have murdered him or is there someone else to profit from his removal from the picture?
As the feelings brew between Murdoch and Dr. Julia, Murdoch once again finds Ettie coming into his life, as she has elevated herself from a typical doxie to a working girl in a high end brothel, errr... "music school," and just like before, there are sparks between the pair. Murdoch must focus to solve this case and get justice for his friend, but these two ladies make it difficult.
Last but not least is Under the Dragon's Tail where a midwife named Dolly Capshaw is found murdered by her two young wards. As Murdoch investigates, he discovers that the woman is actually an abortionist and there are more than a few people who would be happy to see her dead. Dr. Ogden and Inspector Brackenreid don't appear in this film, but Inspector Ramsgate (Kenneth Walsh) will still be certain to ridicule Murdoch's methods (including handwriting analysis) while pressuring Constable George Crabtree (Matthew MacFadzean) to train for an upcoming boxing match between police precincts. As Murdoch digs into the Dolly's dealings, he learns that she kept meticulous records on her clients, which provides him with a slew of new suspects, if only he could get his hands on her book. Ettie pops into his life once again, this time as a medium with a theatrical show, but once again, she is hiding a lot from the detective. By the time this case draws to a close, Ettie will have a shocking discovery and Murdoch will have upset a very wealthy and influential apple cart in the course of his investigation for justice.
There are no special features, but watching these films, it is easy to see how the television series arose. The characters are engaging, endearing and interesting, and you want to see what happens to them in their lives. Peter Outerbridge and Keeley Hawes are wonderful, even if they aren't the Murdoch and Ogden that viewers are accustomed to from the TV show. If you have any interest in forensics, the Victorian era, or crime drama in general, do yourself a favor and check out Murdoch Mysteries: The Movies. You won't be disappointed!