1. THE POPULARITY OF COFFEE
We might not remember a time before lattes, espressos and soy mocha frappucinos ruled our lives, but such a world did once exist. Indeed, Murdoch had never even heard of coffee before plucky Crabtree offered him a cup. "I've had four already this morning," said a buzzing Crabtree. "It's damnedest stuff!"
Murdoch wasn't a fan. One sip had him scowling like he'd set eyes on a particularly grisly corpse. Pronouncing it terribly bitter, he said "Why on earth would they serve this when we have tea? I don't see THIS catching on." Crabtree's response: "Oh, I wouldn't be so sure, sir."
2. MICROWAVED FOOD
It was heroic scientist Nikola Tesla who introduced the detectives to the concept of microwaves - a new form of energy which could theoretically be turned into an elaborate murder weapon. But Crabtree was more interested in another, less ominous, application. Namely, using it to cook a potato "in minutes".
Tesla tentatively agreed that COULD indeed happen, but "such a machine would be the size of a small room". So, Crabtree being the visionary that he is, suggested that "the future will allow for every home to have a potato-cooking room". If only he knew...
One of the cheekiest winks in all of Murdoch Mysteries came when the sleuths were trying to decipher a mysterious message found on a corpse. It was composed of a string of letters, and Murdoch went straight to his trusty blackboard to write up a table of possible combinations. He then prepared a number of square tiles, each featuring a large letter with a smaller number in the corner, to correspond with the letter's position on the blackboard.
It fell to luckless Constable Higgins to use the tiles to crack the code. "Worst job ever," he said, sifting through the various letter tiles. "Think of it as a game," said Crabtree encouragingly. Then he paused to think of a possible title for such a game. "Scramble!" Just one letter out, George. Just one letter out.
Murdoch once sent headquarters a telegraph from a ship out at sea, and boy was Crabtree impressed. "A ship!" he exclaimed. "Is that even possible?" On realizing that fellow copper Higgins wasn't quite so awe-struck, Crabtree waxed lyrical about the possibilities of "sending messages over electromagnetic waves that spread in all directions".
"Doesn't that mean that everybody can receive everyone else's messages?" Higgins asked, pondering the endless barrage of communication that would ensue. "Just think of all the birds outside your window tweeting at once," Higgins said. Crabtree agreed, gazing into the distance. "This doesn't portend well."
5. BREAKFAST CEREAL
It's fair to say that Murdoch and his contemporaries weren't exactly enticed by the idea of breakfast cereal. But then, it wasn't being marketed in the most favourable way. Entrepreneur Dr Gilbert Birkins, a suspect in a murder, had filed a patent for his culinary invention, described as "Corn Shards". Ah yes: yummy, yummy Corn Shards.
His description wasn't much better. "A breakfast product made from reconstituted corn pulp, meant to be eaten with cold milk." This was declared to be "revolting" by Crabtree. Perhaps he's more of a Coco Pops sort of fellow.
When pompous patriarch Percival Jenkins was found dead with his face plunged in a bowl of porridge, there were no shortage of suspects. He was, after all, an odious oaf of a man, holding court in a grand house where family members and servants all had it in for him.
To envisage how the crime occurred, Murdoch created a miniature model of the entire mansion. Chess pieces were used for the various suspects, and placed in the various rooms like the library and conservatory. You can see where this is going, and so could Crabtree, who suggested it would make a fine board game where players would have to figure out the murderer. "People find murder too grave for it to be the subject of frivolous entertainment," Murdoch replied, proving that even he can get things very, very wrong.
7. MURDOCH MYSTERIES
The most cunning nod to the future came when Murdoch Mysteries predicted... itself. Drawn into a murder involving the new technology of moving pictures, Murdoch had some choice words with a budding director who imagined setting a crime story to film. "Crime, as entertainment?" Murdoch asked, eyebrow raised.
"We have mystery novels, I'm simply trying to create a visual narrative," the director said. And then he had a bright idea. "I believe the Filmed Adventures of Detective William Murdoch will play to standing-room-only crowds from coast to coast." But something about the title jarred with Crabtree, who suggested something shorter and simpler might be in order. How about just... "Murdoch Mysteries"? Now there's an idea...