CBC network was inspired by John Wilson Murray's biography to concoct the character of Inspector Alistair Cameron, played by Douglas Campbell. Mr. Murray, generally considered as Canada's first detective, was appointed detective to Ontario's Department of Justice in l875. Cameron, his fictional counterpart, cracked crimes all around Ontario in the Victorian era in this light, one hour, weekly whodunit.
Recaps1x1: The Case of the Magic Mandarin recap
: CBC introduces a new television drama mystery series starring Douglas Campbell as the robust Inspector Alastair Cameron. The Great Detective
series is inspired by the exploits of John Wilson Murray, Canada's first government-appointed detective.
The debut episode introduces Cameron, newly arrived from his native Glasgow to take charge of his young niece Prudence, played by Tracy Brett. One of the major attractions of the series undoubtedly is Mrs. Lutz, the motherly housekeeper played by Kay Hawtrey. Mrs. Lutz speaks with a heavy European accent. The first episode opens with a dead body falling out of a closet as poor Miss Prudence is shown her room at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Upon finding out that there has been a corpse in his room. Inspector Cameron demands to the manager a 50% reduction in the rate.The victim is a Chinese young man dressed like a mandarin. He was a Chinese guy named Henry Ling who belonged to a secret society, the Royal Dragon Tong. The crook dealt with opium and was shot point blank and left in the hotel closet. A running joke throughout the show will be Inspector Cameron's fondness for firewater. He is downing some whiskey as he laments that most crimes are a result of insobriety. Sandy Webster plays Dr. Chisholm. the local forensic scientist who likes his whiskey straight. Cameron hits it off with Dr Chisholm in a turkish bath where they learn that they share a common hobby, fishing. Prudence receives an unexpected visit overnight, a strange old lady who doesn't utter a word and leaves in a hurry. Later Cameron learns the lady's identity, Mrs. Mcloskey, an old lady who insists his father was the Duke of Kent and she's living on a pension left by her royal parents. Dr Chisholm brings disturbing news, there was no bullet in Ling's body. He suspects a blank cartridge did the trick. When Prudence hears some noise in an adjoining room occupied by Lestrange, a travelling magician, she confronts the gentleman and says that she has been hearing noises that sound like someone sawing furniture.
The magician replies that he is sawing her wife in two halves as part of their act. Magician Lestrange performs at the hotel and presents an astounding act, Mrs Lestrange shoots at her husband and he stops the bullet with his teeth. Evidence points to Mrs. McCloskey when it is learnt that she takes opium pills and keeps a blank cartridge gun for scaring thieves. Lestrange and wife show another act called The Magic Mandarin. A Chinese mandarin dummy answers questions from the public and guesses dates and cyphers. The act apparently goes wrong and the dummy is beheaded. Later the head answers questions. The Lestranges repeat the gunshot act but this time the magician receves a real bullet and dies
Oustanding guest star of this episode is Jane Mallett playing Mrs McCloskey, an eccentric old lady who claims to be Queen Victoria's sister and who insists on calling her valet Rover because dogs aren't permitted in the hotel and she misses them so.
As the case evolves Prudence tries hard to help Uncle Alastair. Inspector Cameron is rewarded for solving the case by being appointed Ontario's first provincial detective.
The inspector is thrilled at the appointment until they show him a huge map of his constituency that includes all of Ontario's rural areas and small towns.
Douglas Campbell stares at the immense map and mugs for the camera asking "what have I done?".. read more.