Give me some men who are square-jawed men

Taking a break from the almost unrelieved despair of two dark British detective series (Broadchurch and The Fall), I returned to more entertaining murders, in the Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries, where I came across S2 E13 (“Anything You Can Do…”,  originally aired 5/27/09), in which Victorian-era Toronto Detective William Murdoch (played by Yannick Bisson) confronts Sergeant Jasper Linney of the Mounties (Dylan Neal) over a murder case. Here are Murdoch and Linney with medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy):


You’ll see that both the men have notably strong jaws, Neal-as-Linney almost absurdly so; no doubt he was cast to be a caricature of the Mountie of myth: from Renfrew and Sergeant Preston on through the comic figures Dudley Do-Right (in Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Constable Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) in Due South (1994-99).

In principle, this posting is about square jaws on men, but there will be many side trips, including shirtless photos of Bisson.

The title. A play on “Stout-Hearted Men” (both Murdoch and Linney being indubitably stout-hearted men, in some conflict over which of them has the stouter heart), a song from the operetta “The New Moon” (which opened on stage in New York 1927-28), music by Sigmund Romberg, book and lyrics by Frank Mandel, Laurence Schwab, and Oscar Hammerstein II. The song is a call to arms and a hymn to male camaraderie:

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore,
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
They grow as they go to the fore.
Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

I’ve never been able to decide whether the song is rousing or risible; probably both. Nelson Eddy in the 1940 movie “New Moon” can be viewed here, rousing the men; and you can listen here to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, singing stoutly by the book, but with an obviously homoerotic subtext (an arny of lovers cannot fail).

Death in Devon and Belfast. Brief notes on the shows I was, for a moment, escaping from. (More to come in later postings,)

Broadchurch is set in a fictional community of that name on the Devon (south) coast of England. It stars David Tennant as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Olivia Coleman as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, cooperating uneasily in investigating the murder of an 11-year-old boy, found on the beach (the scenery is stunning). Partway in, I realized I’d seen the series before — and so got to live once more through the inutterable sadness of the story.

The Fall is set in Belfast, with Gillian Anderson as Police Superintendent Stella Gibson, investigating the crimes of serial killer Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan), a Jekyll-and-Hyde character who is simultaneously a murderous monster and a wonderfully charming man (and sweetly devoted father).

Amazing performances, in stories that develop slowly, often in undertones, with occasional eruptions of intense emotion or violence. Everyone, even the children, is flawed, some irrevocably. There are no satisfying resolutions. I occasionally cried out in pain, and sometimes wept. Wrenching experiences.

Back to Murdoch.From Wikipedia:

Murdoch Mysteries originally came to Canadian television in 2004 as a two-episode made-for-TV movie, starring Peter Outerbridge in the lead role. … [A] new version of Murdoch Mysteries [with Yannick Bisson in the lead role] debuted on Citytv in late January 2008. [now in 9th season on CBC and renewed for a 10th]

The Murdoch stories often have wrenching plots, but mostly the series is a romp, with lots of comic touches. Visually, the show often plays as a storybook fantasy, of late-Victorian times: the costumes and scenery, even the actors’ makeup, tend to the hyperreal. You almost always know you’re in the midst of a period fantasy.

On Bisson:

Yannick D. Bisson (born May 16, 1969 [of French (presumably Breton, given his name) and English ancestry] is a Canadian film and television actor and director best known to international audiences for playing Dtv. William Murdoch on the series Murdoch Mysteries. (Wikipedia link)

Bisson in character as Murdoch:


Note the wide, or broad, jaw (considerable distance from one extreme point of a mandible to the other), giving a strongly rectangular shape to his face — the sort of face that people tend to judge as high on the masculinity scale (a number of other factors contribute to these judgments; see my 11/22/11 posting here, and note that men with high-masculinity faces are not necessarily judged to be especially attractive by women, since some women see such faces to be brutish or dangerous).

Bisson mostly acts in Canadian productions, but he’s had an American career too, most memorably in his mid-20s, in another detective series:

High Tide is an American television series created by Jeff Franklin and Steve Waterman and starring Rick Springfield and Yannick Bisson. The syndicated procedural aired from 1994 to 1997 and lasted 66 episodes over three seasons.

Premise: Mick Barrett [Rick Springfield], a former police officer, works as a private detective with his younger brother Joey [Yannick Bisson] in San Diego. For their work, they travel to exotic locales and, in their free time, they are surfers. At the beginning of the series, they work primarily for Gordon [George Segal], a retired CIA agent. (Wikipedia link)

Bisson and Springfield as surfers:


Here Bisson is boyishly cute. From the same period, Springfield and Bisson:


Hey, they were playing surfers, and it was the 90s. Note the jaw contrast in this shot.

Side notes on the other players in High Tides. Springfield is indeed the singer, and George Segal is the versatile older actor (not the artist):

Rick Springfield (born Richard Lewis Springthorpe; 23 August 1949) is an Australian musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. … Springfield’s two US top 10 albums are Working Class Dog (1981) and Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet (1982). (Wikipedia link)

George Segal, Jr. (born February 13, 1934) is an American actor and musician. Segal became popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing both dramatic and comedic roles. Some of his most acclaimed roles are in films such as Ship of Fools (1965), King Rat (1965), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Where’s Poppa? (1970), The Hot Rock (1972), Blume in Love (1973), A Touch of Class (1973), California Split (1974), For the Boys (1991), and Flirting with Disaster (1996). (Wikipedia link)

Dylan Neal. Finally, back to the main topic. On the actor, from Wikipedia:

Dylan Jeremy Neal (born October 8, 1969) is a Canadian actor. He holds dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. He is known for his portrayal of the character Dylan Shaw on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, Doug Witter on Dawson’s Creek, and Detective Mike Celluci in the supernatural series Blood Ties. He also played Aaron Jacobs on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Here he is in character as Sergeant Jasper Linney on Murdoch Mysteries:


Compare this to Bisson in #2. Both have a considerable mandibular distance; Neal’s is probably greater than Bisson’s in absolute terms, since Neal is overall a bigger man (Neal is 6′ 2″ tall, Bisson 5′ 11″), but Neal’s mandibular distance is probably also greater in relative terms (relative to other facial dimensions, that is).

So what makes Neal’s jaw look even squarer than Bisson’s? That would seem to be the mandible-chin angle, the angle from the extreme point of a mandible to the point of the chinbone. A jaw is squarer if this angle is low, sharper if it’s higher. To judge visually, Neal’s mandible-chin angle is pretty low, Bisson’s a bit higher.

Neal is a seriously square-jawed man.

For comparison to these two, three Mounties:



Constable Benton Fraser in Due South:


[Addendum the next day: unfair to give shirtless shots of Bisson but not of Neal. Neal is far from shy about displaying his body. Here he is posing for Playgirl:



2 Responses to “Give me some men who are square-jawed men”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    If you want to add another fairly dark British detective series to your repertoire, you might check out Vera, set in Northumberland (the accents are sometimes close to impenetrable), starring Brenda Blethyn as a tough-but-inherently-kind DCI Vera Stanhope, with eye candy provided by David Leon as her sidekick, DS Joe Ashworth.

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