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166 of 176 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Midsomer County
Imagine Saint Mary Mead. Squared.

That about describes the setting of "Midsomer Murders," a morbidly witty British mystery series based on Caroline Graham's novels. And "Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases" brings together the first eighteen cases in this cozy, dark little county, making up most of the first four seasons.

In the pilot episode, an...
Published on December 30, 2007 by E. A Solinas

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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Episodes...Horrible Case!
I LOVE Midsomer Murders! I had all of the episodes from Season 1 right through Season 10 taped off TV, but they included commercials, since they were taped off A&E and the BIO channel. I enjoyed them so much, I decided to invest in the real thing on DVD.

I opted to start by buying "MM - The Early Cases" and the rest of the series by individual seasons. I'm now...
Published on August 16, 2008


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166 of 176 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Midsomer County, December 30, 2007
Imagine Saint Mary Mead. Squared.

That about describes the setting of "Midsomer Murders," a morbidly witty British mystery series based on Caroline Graham's novels. And "Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases" brings together the first eighteen cases in this cozy, dark little county, making up most of the first four seasons.

In the pilot episode, an elderly spinster is is hunting for orchids when she comes across something strange in the woods -- and soon she's found dead, with a broken neck. Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is persuaded to investigate further, and soon he discovers that there's something far nastier coming up -- more bloody killings, secret incest, and an old forgotten crime.

"The Killings in Badger's Grift" is perhaps the clumsiest episode of the series, with some horribly over-the-top acting and a weird dream sequence. But the writers get their footing with "Written in Blood," about a double murder rooted in the shared past of two middle-aged men -- one a bestselling novelist.

From there on, Barnaby and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), are forced to investigate all sorts of crimes -- obviously each episode has a murder, but there's plenty of adultery, theft, kidnapping, insanity and "cold cases" that are connected to current murders.

And they have to deal with some very strange crimes -- a strangled cigarette model, a New Age lodge, snotty aristocrats, a local sexpot's kidnapping (or not), a trophy wife murdered with a cricket bat, mysterious tramps, nursing home murders, a thief killed by a pitchfork, a haunted museum, toxic mushrooms, crop circles, adulterous mailmen, and a wedding that is disrupted when the groom's father is hoisted out of a well.

Honestly, I think Miss Marple would feel right at home -- such a pretty, homey, sunshiney place, full of kindly spinsters and genial aristocrats. The whole thing is set in the various villages of Midsomer County, which is picturesque, lush, and full of farms, cute little English villages and cottages.

So of course, there are gruesome murders, plotting and tawdry secrets hidden in every corner; several spill out in every episode, and only some of them have to do with the main murder. But the writers keep a funny edge in the stories, such as Barnaby being shadowed by his daughter's boyfriend, or certain lines when off duty ("You're just jealous because I have a coconut and you haven't!").

And these cops are pretty believable detectives. John Nettles is absolutely wonderful as the kindly, middle-aged cop with a brain like stainless steel, whose nice sedate family is a relief from all the Midsomer weirdos. And Daniel Casey is solid as his younger, brasher assistant.

Most of the villagers are played by excellent actors as well, no matter how weird their characters are. Grumpy mediums, mad vicars and nasty little schoolboys are only a few, with Emily Mortimer and Jonathan Firth playing one-off roles. And keep an eye out for Orlando Bloom as a sneering young thief in one of these episodes -- he's not only great at being nasty, but he has a priceless death scene.

"Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases" is a big, solidly-written chunk of British coziness, spanning almost four seasons. And it has murder and scandal in every episode.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 HOURS OF TERRIFIC WHODUNITS, April 11, 2008
By 
Robin Simmons (Palm Springs area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I love this droll, darkly humorous series set in the fictional UK county of Midsomer. Finally, the initial 18 episodes are available in the order they were first broadcast in the UK. What a treat!

There's something cozy about the madness behind the rustic hedges and lush landscape of this wonderful old-school murder mystery series. Midsomer is a contained world populated with slightly inbred middle-class eccentrics. The colorful villagers -- vicars, birdwatchers and cricket players mingle with -- and in some cases are -- murderers of great, if flawed, creativity.

Especially delicious are the first five titles taken directly from the novels of Caroline Graham. I have enjoyed "Killings At Badger's Drift," "Written In Blood," and "Death Of A Hollow Man" multiple times.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettle) brings a reasoned mature calm to the lurking menace of the deceptively heavenly, stately environs. A decent and normal man who represents the best of his breed. And make no mistake, this series is very much about breeding. Barnaby's sidekick DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) is the perfect youthful -- sometimes naive, sometimes intuitive, sometimes brash -- balance to the proceedings.

This kind of closed story-telling, in which killings are center stage and around which all the action takes place, is reassuring in a world that often reflects far harsher realities. It's reassuring because there is closure and all is put in order and justice on some level is meted out. At least for the time-being.

The production is top notch all round. Colorful minor characters abound -- often stars in the making (see Orlando Bloom and others in early episodes).

What sets this apart for me, is the balance of Barnaby's private life with the horrors of his professional life. It seems he's learned a lesson from his work and that is to appreciate even the minor irritations of domestic bliss and fatherhood, like his wife's penchant for experimental culinary experimentations and his daughter's thespian aspirations. Very Hitchcockian English humor.

There are 18 episodes. The smooth transition from Graham's novels to episodes based on her characters is seamless and sometimes just as diabolically clever.

A lot of care has gone into the creation and maintenance of this terrific series. There are a total of 30 hours of delectably dastardly doings in this package as well as "Super Sleuths," a fascinating bonus documentary that takes a look at the first decade of "Midsomer Murders."

If classic murder mysteries are your cup of tea, don't miss this timeless set.

Beautiful packaging (the shadow of an axe murderer is on the outer box, and on the inner sleeve he's gone!) and the plastic "page fold" multiple disc case is the best I've seen.

Highest recommendation.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midsomer Murders, August 28, 2008
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
They are amateurs and pros, London dwellers moving equally comfortably in international society as in that of their occasional forays into the English countryside, and lifelong inhabitants of those rural settings. They investigate crimes in the Thames valley and cities as large as Oxford, midsize towns like a certain Kingsmarkham, and villages with such all-English names as St. Mary Mead or King's Abbot. And they have been portrayed by some of Britain's finest contemporary actors, from Jeremy tBrett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke (Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson) to Roy Marsden (Commander Adam Dalgliesh), Patrick Malahide and William Simons (D.C.I. Roderick Alleyn & D.I. "Br'er" Fox), John Thaw and Kevin Whately (D.C.I. Morse & D.S. Lewis), David Jason (D.I. "Jack" Frost), George Baker and Christopher Ravenscroft (D.C.I. Reginald Wexford & D.I. Mike Burden), Peter Davison and Brian Glover (Albert Campion & Magersfontein Lugg), Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter (Lord Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane), David Suchet/Albert Finney (Hercule Poirot) and last but not least Joan Hickson as Miss Jane Marple, the grandmother of all English village detectives.

To that illustrious group, British author Caroline Graham in 1987 added another sleuthing couple, the middle-aged D.C.I. Tom Barnaby and his young colleague D.S. Gavin Troy, coppers in a cluster of villages which, collectively, make up an area known as Midsomer County, and which could easily rival Agatha Christie's very own St. Mary Mead in per-capita occurrences of treachery, crime, and bloodletting. The series' first entry, "The Killings at Badgers Drift," was so successful that it won a Macavity Award for best first mystery and, for its author, an instant loyal following. Before long, the books had spawned a television series, which at now over 50 episodes has long since outrun the number of its print originals. Starring as Barnaby and Troy are Royal Shakespeare Company alumnus John Nettles, best known to TV audiences as Jerseyan Detective Sergeant Jim Bergerac in the 1980s' series of the same name (based on the books by Andrew Saville), and Daniel Casey, whose most notable other roles to date have been appearances in the BBC's "Our Friends in the North," ITV's "Steel River Blues" (for which he gave up "Midsomer Murders" in 2004), and the 1998 Catherine Cookson adaptation "The Wingless Bird." Nettles and Casey are an engaging team, not quite faithful to their characters' literary versions - which however works well to their advantage; particularly in the case of Daniel Casey's Troy, who despite a certain learning curve in political correctness is less brash than in the books, and who presents a good foil for Nettles's emphatic Barnaby; in turn overall more reminiscent of George Baker's Wexford than of Nettles's own Bergerac, whose domestic bliss is spoiled, again and again, by the callings of his job, to his regret as much as to that of his culinarily-challenged wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) and theater-bound daughter Cully (Laura Howard); yet, he is to much of a professional not to heed those callings every single time.

Bringing together the series's first eighteen episodes, this set provides a most welcome opportunity for fans to reacquaint themselves with the initial (and for most intents and purposes, strongest-written) cases solved by this winning pair of detectives, as well as with the not-so peaceful, albeit wonderfully filmed setting of rural Midsomer County. Crucially, this also includes the TV version of "The Killings at Badgers Drift," which (re-)introduced the characters of Barnaby and Troy (as had Caroline Graham's book, ten years earlier), and among whose high profile roster of guest stars were screen luminaries and TV regulars such as Elizabeth Spriggs, Jonathan Firth, Rosalie Crutchley, Julian Glover, Christopher Villiers and Renee Asherson. In addition to the 1997 pilot, this set features the series's complete first three seasons (1998 - 2000) and five of the six episodes from the fourth (2001) season:

The Killings at Badger's Drift (1997)
Written in Blood (1998)
Death of a Hollow Man (1998)
Faithful Unto Death (1998)
Death in Disguise (1999)
Death's Shadow (1999)
Strangler's Wood (1999)
Dead Man's Eleven (1999)
Blood Will Out (1999)
Death of a Stranger (1999)
Blue Herrings (2000)
Judgement Day (2000)
Beyond the Grave (2000)
Garden of Death (2000)
Destroying Angel (2001)
The Electric Vendetta (2001)
Who Killed Cock Robin? (2001)
Dark Autumn (2001)

Also recommended:
The Killings at Badger's Drift (Inspector Barnaby Mysteries)
Inspector Morse - Complete Collection
Ruth Rendell Mysteries - Simisola / Road Rage
P.D. James: The Essential Collection
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Episodes...Horrible Case!, August 16, 2008
I LOVE Midsomer Murders! I had all of the episodes from Season 1 right through Season 10 taped off TV, but they included commercials, since they were taped off A&E and the BIO channel. I enjoyed them so much, I decided to invest in the real thing on DVD.

I opted to start by buying "MM - The Early Cases" and the rest of the series by individual seasons. I'm now thinking I might buy the individual seasons 1,2,3 & 5 and sell my copy of the Early Cases. WHY?? The DVD case the Early Cases comes in is just horrible!!

They packed all of the DVDs into this one big case that opens like a book. The center doesn't have a release and I can't get the DVDs out without actually bending and pulling on them; I'm bound to break one at some point. The case is also unwieldy to open and access the DVDs. It's not a well-thought-out packaging option.

With the individual seasons, each episode is in its own DVD, in its own case, with a nice episode synopsis. The Earl Cases set has no episode guide, which is a minor bother, but still a bother; especially for someone who doesn't know the episodes well by title.

But, the episodes themselves are BANG ON! By all means, buy the entire series, just think about buying them all separately instead of in this Early Collection. And if you decide to buy the Early Cases collection, let me know...I have a mint set for sale!!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last, March 28, 2008
By 
Rosa "Bookworm" (Detroit,MichiganUSA) - See all my reviews
I was very glad when they released the volume set.Every since Hallmark has decided not the renew it's contract for more Midsomers Murders. I have miss it greatly at least this way I can see the ones that I have enjoyed like Destroying Angel and Garden of Death. And others that I miss like Written in Blood, Badgers Drift and others. If you are a true fan and miss the series like I do. This is the series to get.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expect to Break a Disc, February 20, 2011
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I'm giving this item three stars -- the average of five stars for content, one star for packaging. Expect to break at least one disk removing it from the holder.

I've watched Midsomer Murders for years, since they ran on A&E and the Biography Channel. This collection includes the best episodes, in my opinion, from the early seasons. Most are based on the Caroline Graham novels, not original scripts. If you like English village murder mysteries, these are great.

However, the packaging is atrocious: The disk holders hang on to the center hole like grim death, and every time I remove a disk I expect it to break. Finally, one did, even though I was babying it while taking it out -- the mounting catch was so tight the disk simply snapped along a radius before it released. Fortunately there's just one episode per disc.

Just a warning. Don't try to pop the disc out like you should be able to. You'll end up in splitsville.

UPDATE (02/25/2011)-- ONE MORE STAR: I complained to Acorn Media, manufacturers of the Midsomer DVDs, about the broken disc and they replaced it right away! The new disc arrived in today's mail. Who says customer service is dead? So now I've bumped my rating to four stars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic collection!, May 3, 2008
By 
J. Paulson (Winter Haven, FL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Midsomer Murders - The Early Cases Collection is a selection of the classic British detective series. I had seen all the episodes available in the US and was eagerly waiting for this release. And with 19 DVDs in the collection, it is definitely a bargain. Midsomer Murders is a great series and I highly recommend this set.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Most Wonderful!, August 14, 2008
By 
mona milford "mona_s world" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This is terrific series and one I am really enjoying. Having never seen the series on tv, I was a little worried about buying something pricey, but what a great investment, truely, murder most wonderful!!! The stories are intelligent, quirky, twisted and interesting. Last weekend I watched 5 episodes in 1 day, so Inspector's Barnaby and Troy are good friends by now. It's nice to see a mature series where sex, pot and other adult subjects are talked about. There is humor, warmth, an ongoing family story and enough murder to make anyone happy. My recommendation is 2 thumbs up and 10 stars!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it but....., March 6, 2010
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I like this series a lot as mystery series go--this is a wonderful set to own. However, and this is a BIG however, the packaging is absolutely horrible. I actually snapped one disk in two trying to get it out of its own slot. Had to reorder that one episode and some auxiliary slim DVD cases to repackage the whole affair. Whoever designed the packaging ought to just resign and take up fishing instead!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Series!, September 30, 2008
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A friend told us about this murder series so I went out and got the very first episodes. There were about if not 20 dvr's in this box. My husband and I got hooked on it on the very first dvr and ended up buying the rest of the series. If you like murders mysteries like we do, this is for you but be prepared for several deaths in each program. In fact, with all the murders in Midsomer, I am surpirsed there is anyone left in the town.
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Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases Collection (Reissue)
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