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The Watchman: A Very Merry ‘Murdoch’ Christmas, and Some Funny ‘People of Earth’…and Beyond

It’s Christmas in July! Acorn TV is making Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas, the annual special from Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries, available to subscribers on July 24. Yannick Bisson plays Murdoch. Christmas specials seem to do well this time of year, he said.

“Sometimes Hallmark airs Christmas specials in the middle of summer,” Bisson said. “It’s not something I would tune into, but people dig it.”

Murdoch Mysteries is set in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century. Besides mystery, the series offers comedy and romance and incorporates historical figures, such as Nikola Tesla and Henry Ford, into its storylines. It also shows the very early days of forensic science in law enforcement. “It’s pre-CSI stage,” quipped Bisson.

The Christmas special sees Toronto’s wealthiest businessmen targeted in robberies, and Murdoch pushed to solve the case.

With its 11th season in the works, Murdoch Mysteries is going strong. (Acorn TV has all ten seasons, while seven seasons are available on Netflix.) Bisson said there’s no end in sight. “The show seems to touch everybody on a different level,” he said. “It’s never the same thing twice.”

Also starting up July 24 is People of Earth on TBS. The way offbeat comedy, with Wyatt Cenac playing journalist Ozzie, who ventures to Beacon, N.Y., to write about an alien abductee support group, was a bit of a hit in season one — it scored a 92% among critics on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.

Brian Huskey, who plays sad sack Richard Schultz, promises a funnier, deeper batch of episodes in its sophomore run. “It’s more in-depth for all the characters and their respective storylines,” he said.

People of Earth has a distinct approach to comedy that suits the world’s increasingly sophisticated viewers, Huskey said. “It’s good at being funny, and then, in the next moment, having genuine heart to it,” he said.

In the off-season, Huskey consumed documentaries about President Donald Trump. They helped “inform my character’s paranoia,” he said. Indeed, Richard is known as “Poor Richard” around the set for the misery that envelopes him. His wife left him — or was she abducted by aliens? — and the robot Richard fell in love with blew up on him. Huskey called it “standard fare in modern dating.”

People of Earth has some notable people of Earth among its executive producers, including Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels. Huskey said those not of Earth set the show apart.

“Alien-being comedies out there?” he said. “We’re the only alien game in town!”