1. THE WHOLE WILLIAM/JULIA THING
Oh, William and Julia: how they toy with our hearts. The relationship between Murdoch and Dr Ogden is exhilarating, poignant, ecstatic and sad. It's had more ups and downs than a particularly sadistic theme park ride. One minute it looks like they've FINALLY paired up, the next there's some earthshattering revelation that drives them apart and has us reaching for the hankies. (If there's one thing nobody can handle seeing, it's Murdoch's upset-face. It's the most upsetting upset-face imaginable. It's like the face of a child whose pet hamster's just popped its clogs, and we can't take it.)
2. THE WIT AND WISDOM OF GEORGE CRABTREE
Murdoch may be the resident genius, and Julia may be a whiz in the dissecting room, but the unsung hero of Murdoch Mysteries has to be George Crabtree. The intrepid copper has a way of winding Murdoch up - mainly thanks to his habit of bursting in on Murdoch and Julia when they're having one of their many anguished heart-to-hearts. But Crabtree deserves credit for his unique way of looking at the world, whether it's counting the number of times he's seen Murdoch smile, or pondering the business potential of selling meat in cans. To think, he came THAT close to sitting on a Spam fortune.
3. MURDOCH'S ADORABLE AWKWARDNESS
There's just something about William Murdoch that makes you want to hug and squeeze him whenever he walks into a room. He would absolutely hate that - any kind of casual affection and jollity makes him wince - but that would just make you want to do it more. Murdoch is a bit like the boy from school who's always got his tie on properly, always does his homework correctly, stutters around girls, and would much rather be home with his chemistry set than out playing sports with the lads. The flipside to all this is how heroic and stubborn he is when it comes to justice, and this vulnerable/strong combination makes him completely irresistible.
4. IT'S THE PAST, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT
The very world of Murdoch Mysteries is addictive, because it's unlike any other depiction of the 19th Century. For long stretches it feels like an accurate costume drama, but then suddenly we get a burst of surreal steampunk, when Murdoch unleashes his ornate gadgets and gizmos, from the Murdochian equivalent of GPS to an early taser gun. It's a show that surprises and delights us when we least expect it, and good luck guessing when the next moment of Victorian weirdness will make baffled Brackenreids of us all.
5. THE IN-JOKES TO THE AUDIENCE
Seasoned fans of the show will know that one of the real pleasures of Murdoch Mysteries is its wry sense of humour about technology and the future. There's an episode about romances unfolding via the telegraph system which is basically a nod to Internet dating. Crabtree casually invents a game very similar to Scrabble. Murdoch introduces the world to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There's a bit where George scoffs at the idea of a fingerprint database ever replacing the keen eye of a detective. Oh yes, and there's even a premonition of automated sex toys, but let's not get into that here.
6. THE HISTORICAL CAMEOS
Murdoch Mysteries really makes the most of its Victorian setting, with a who's who of historical icons casually crossing paths with our daring detectives. Except "casually" isn't exactly the right word, given the traumatic circumstances that can bring them together. Take the time a young Winston Churchill teamed up with Murdoch, after the future savior of Britain woke up in a room with a dead body in it. Other famous figures to work alongside Murdoch have included Arthur Conan Doyle, Buffalo Bill Cody and Mark Twain, who was probably the most enjoyable of all (partly because he was played by William Shatner).
7. THE FRANKLY INGENIOUS MURDERS
And then, of course, there's the matter of the crimes themselves. As you might expect from a show featuring an eccentric inventor-detective, the cases themselves stand apart from the usual whodunit malarkey. From the man who tricks a woman into throwing herself to her death, to the serial killer who locks Murdoch in a psychological death-trap, the surprises and shocks keep on coming. And we'll keep on watching.