What evil lurks beyond the well-trimmed hedges of Midsomer
The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars John Nettles (Bergerac) as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Constable Ben Jones. Guest stars include George Baker, Elizabeth Spriggs, Simon Callow, Joss Ackland, Siân Phillips, Dermot Crowley, and Julia McKenzie.
The House in the Woods -- According to local legend, Winyard is hauntedand it lives up to its reputation when a young couple dies on the property in a grisly fashion.
Dead Letters -- As Midsomer Barton celebrates Oak Apple Week, the mother of a former festival queen drowns herself. But is it really suicide?
Vixens Run -- At a family gathering, thrice-married baronet Freddy Butler keels over dead, leaving an estate worth killing for.
Down Among the Dead Men -- The shotgun slaying of accountant Martin Barrett leads Barnaby and Jones on a trail of blackmail.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE Fascinating Facts, The Killings at Badgers Drift connection, Caroline Graham biography, production notes, and cast filmographies.
Midsomer Murders, Set 11
presents four more gruesome yet impish mysteries from this ever-dependable series. DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is joined by his latest protégé, DC Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) as they investigate roiling emotions and rash acts in rural England. In The House in the Woods
, Nettles first meets Jones while delving into the case of a young house-hunting couple who are garroted in their car. A girl in a bee costume finds a drowned woman' body in Dead Letters
, in which a long-dead beauty queen is linked to a series of present-day deaths. The past haunts the present in Vixen's Run
, only it's sex and parentage that have been covered up--when a wealthy glutton dies of natural causes, nastiness soon spreads among his heirs, while a series of rhymed clues lead fortune-hunters on the trail of lost emeralds. And in Down Among the Dead Men
, the shooting of an obsessive neat-freak reveals a web of blackmail that many involve a policeman that Barnaby deeply respects. The scripts are consistently engaging (Vixen's Run
, with its treasure puzzle subplot, is particularly fun), the supporting casts are full of stalwart British thespians (Simon Callow, of Four Weddings and a Funeral
, chews the scenery with relish as a lecherous doctor in Dead Letters
), and there's always at least one sequence of genuine suspense or spookiness. Nettles--staunch, good-humored, and doggedly determined to catch the culprit--provides a calm axis for all the enjoyable mayhem and pettiness to wheel around. (Newcomers need not shy away, every 100-minute episode is self-contained.) --Bret Fetzer