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MIDSOMER MURDERS Set #19 (2010)
Directors: Peter Smith, Renny Rye, and Richard Holthouse.
Writers: Andrew Payne, Michael Aitkens, David Lawrence, and Peter J. Hammond.
(Based on the characters of Caroline Graham)
Guest stars: James Wilby, Saskia Reeves, Janet Suzman, Kenneth Cranham, Tim McInnerny, David Rintoul, Neil Dudgeon...
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not rated.
Runtime: approx. 100 minutes per episode.
Genres: Crime drama/Mystery
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
MIDSOMER MURDERS is a long-running (15 years and still in production, but for how much longer is uncertain), fairly popular (although more popular in the early years than now) police detective series set in the fictional county of Midsomer, England. Episodes average three, often quirky, deaths in one or more of the villages of Midsomer. DCI Tom Barnaby and his eager partner DS Ben Jones attempt to unravel the who, what, why, and when of things, usually without much help from the locals. Many of the villagers are just as quirky as the methods of death inflicted on the victims. It's often not an easy or straightforward task for DCI Barnaby and he is heard to lament, from time to time, that everyone in the village is lying to him.
Generally speaking, the time spent with DCI Barnaby (John Nettles), DS Jones (Jason Hughes), and the recurring cast members — Joyce Barnaby (Jane Wymark), Cully Barnaby (Laura Howard), and Dr. Bullard (Barry Jackson) — is enjoyable and makes up for the poorly written and/or poorly directed/edited scripts.
There are only four episodes in this set, which as I've explained in reviews of earlier episodes does not correspond to the UK version of numbering the series. DVD sets released in the USA and Canada actually contain only half of the particular season. It probably only matters to viewers who have non-regional DVD players and are purchasing both the USA/Canada sets and the UK sets.
The Made-to-Measure Murders — A widow is murdered on her way to confession — except her family claims she had nothing to confess.
The Sword of Guillaume — Barnaby travels to Brighton trying to catch an "allegedly" corrupt mayor in a shady land deal. This is the episode that introduces DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), Tom's cousin (the replacement for Tom when he retires in a later episode). To be honest, there are too many "cheats" — details that the writer and/or director claim explain the how and who of the murders, but any viewer who remained awake during the entire episode will know are impossible explanations. Aside from the fun of meeting the new DCI Barnaby, this is a very unsatisfying episode. Many fans will feel cheated by the off-hand treatment of the crime details.
Blood on the Saddle — A property line dispute erupts during a Wild West fete. More "cheats" that spoil the episode. In this case, the viewer has been shown — numerous times, I might add — a shotgun hanging over the door frame in a house. At one point, Barnaby wrestles the gun away from one of the suspects and later the viewers can see it back in its place above the door frame. So where is the gun when Barnaby needs it?
The Silent Land — An obsession with a grave in March Magna's cemetery leads to murder. There are plenty of creepy villagers and suspects in this one but again, the whodunit and why doesn't really provide a satisfying resolution once all is explained.
MIDSOMER MURDERS Set #19 (from 2010 episodes) is currently available from Acorn and is scheduled for wider DVD release on February 28, 2012.
MIDSOMER MURDERS Set #20 (from 2010 episodes) is scheduled for DVD release from Acorn on May, 2012 and is scheduled for wider DVD release on July 3, 2012.
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