Director(s): Alex Pillai, Renny Rye, Nicholas Laughland

Writer(s): Michael Aitkens, Elizabeth-Anne Wheal, Rachel Cuperman & Sally Griffiths
(Based on the characters of Caroline Graham)

Regular Cast: Neil Dudgeon, Jason Hughes, Fiona Dolman, Tamzin Malleson...

Guest Cast: Eleanor Bron, James Callis, Raquel Cassidy, William Guant, Kerry Fox, Natalie Mendoza, Paul Ritter, Lisa Dillon, Jack Pierce, Georgia Mackenzie, John Carson, Sinead Cusack, Caroline Munro, Pearce Quigley, Harriet Walter, Anna Wilson-Jones...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not rated.

Runtime: approx. 100 minutes per episode.

Genres: Crime drama/Mystery

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Only 3 episodes in this set. (My first complaint.)

"The Dark Rider" — A dark and stormy night, a headless horseman appears, points its gloved finger at the next to die and voila, an old man dies; the first of several. What follows is an overused plot line, but standard fare, really. Centuries of inbreeding have led to the current generation of idiots waiting their turn to inherit and along comes an obliging killer. Kill them all, I say!

"Murder of Innocence" — A convicted killer returns to Binwell and the local villagers are rather hostile. As is the previous episode, this one too, is plagued with too many unsympathetic characters. Viewers are supposed to care about the convicted killer, who maintains he did not commit the crime for which he was charged, convicted, and imprisoned. Okay, there is a bit of sympathy there. A sense of urgency arises, in the form of a death list, written by the convicted killer, when people on the list begin dying, rather rapidly. Unfortunately, Barnaby and Jones can't put the convicted killer in the time frame for the new murders. As an added bit of suspense, Jones was one of the original arresting police officers and his name is on the death list.

"Death and the Divas" — Someone is killing people associated with two aging divas who made their mark 40 years ago as young starlets, mostly in vampire horror films. The methods of death appear to be related directly to old movies. I have to admit, unsympathetic characters were prevalent in this episode as well, but at least the episode was more entertaining. I love old vampire movies and I didn't suss who the killer was. (And to be fair, the ME wasn't sniping about her educational superiority.)

As my husband points out whenever I moan about the characters in Midsomer Murders, "the Brits must like them that way." I, however, do not. I'm weary of storylines with unsympathetic characters. At least one sympathetic character per episode would be nice. I get that the landed gentry tend to sit around moaning, waiting for everyone up the line to die off in order to free up their inheritance. I don't even mind that sometimes there's a race to kill off those lingering longer than the distant cousins would like. I'm not quibbling about the body count on Midsomer Murders, which is usually quite adequate, but I blame the writers (and to some extent, the casting). If you are going to do the same thing over and over again, you've got to do it better and better, not just in the same mediocre way.

The series hasn't gotten bad enough that I will stop watching future episodes but I do feel entitled to grumble a bit. $39.99 for three episodes is a bit pricey (although you can find lower prices, depending upon where and when you purchase your copy). I am still bored with Barnaby's wife. I wish she were not seen or heard; just referred to in conversation. The pathologist is becoming increasingly annoying with her apparent chip on her shoulder and her incessant need to remind Barnaby and Jones that she is the one with the medical degree. I still like Sykes, the dog. He needs a bigger part, in my opinion. Maybe some of the wife's lines could be given to the dog?

Am I being too fussy? Perhaps. It is, after all only entertainment. I just wish it were more entertaining.

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