Set #20

Director: Renny Rye, Richard Holthouse, Peter Smith

Writers: Nicholas Martin, Barry Purchese, J. C. Wilsher, Andrew Payne
(Based on characters created by Caroline Graham)

Cast: John Nettles, Jason Hughes, Jane Wymark, Barry Jackson, Kirsty Dillion...

Runtime: 100 minutes per episode

Genres: British crime/mystery

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

This set contains four episodes:

"Master Class" — A private music school and the competition to be admitted presents the setting for murder and betrayal. Is it deja vu when a young piano student sees a terrified young woman carrying a baby leap from a bridge and disappear beneath the fast water of the river in the same spot as a similar incident some 18 years ago?

"The Noble Art" — Boxing, blackmail, and murder.

"Not in my Backyard" — Local conservationists vs. shady land developers yield secret alliances, blackmail, and murders.

"Fit for Murder" — Barnaby's wife, Joyce (Jane Wymark), drags the reluctant copper to a New-age health spa for a bit of R&R but a rising body count derails the trip.

Crime, more specifically crimes leading to murder, still continue unabated in the fictional English county of Midsomer. DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), along with DC Gail Stevens (Kirsty Dillion) and medical examiner Dr. Bullard (Barry Jackson) continue to team up to solve the mysteries of whodunit, when, why, and how.

For those diehard fans who want to finish out the Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) version of the series, this will do it. John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) takes over next season. Although the DVD publicity blurb claims John Barnaby is introduced in this set, his character was actually introduced in a previous episode entitled "The Sword of Guillame." He only makes a cameo appearance in this set at Barnaby's birthday party in "Fit for Murder." As for purchasing this set, I can only recommend it for die-hard fans. For those new to this series, viewers may find little to like in this set of episodes. (I'd suggest renting it first to make sure you are entertained by these episodes.)

Overall, the storylines are unimaginative and lacking in substance. The regular characters seem to be just going through the motions, as they say. There's no real energy in the pieces and nothing new or complicated in the crimes or in their solutions. Tom Barnaby seems tired. His wife, Joyce, seems tired and cranky. Dr. Bullard, the longtime medical examiner and personal friend of the Barnabys, seems tired and cranky. DS Ben Jones seems cranky.

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