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Midsomer Murders, Set 24
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 12, 2013
In Set 24, three new feature-length mysteries return to the offbeat, humorous alternative universe that Midsomer fans crave. Midsomer is a remarkably deadly place, a deceptively delicious chocolate box filled poisoned confections. Generations of loyal inhabitants risk life and limb to live in Midsomer County's lovely villages. Fortunately, DCI John Barnaby, a cousin of our esteemed curmudgeon, DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), is wonderfully played Head Teacher at the Causton Comprehensive School; she has her hands full. Barnaby is assisted in his ruminations by the emotive terrier, Sykes; England, this blessed plot, rife with delightful dogs and detectives. Jason Hughes is intrepid as Detective Inspector Ben Jones, his wry humor a perfect foil, though we wish there was more material for him to work with. The U.K. boasts numerous fine (and underrated) actors. With Midsomer, we look forward to further developments, with its fine cast and crew, and hopefully more humorous banter between the main characters. On a musical note, loyal fans loved Midsomer's iconic score, composed by Jim Parker, performed on the appropriately weird musical instrument - the theremin. Unfortunately, the eerie theremin has been replaced with a violin, resulting in a loss of continuity.

The running time of "Midsomer Murders, Set 24" is approximately 256 minutes; English subtitles are available.

"Written in the Stars"
Writer Steve Trafford delivers a plot that will keep you guessing about who is responsible for all the peculiar, dastardly deeds, murder, and a disappearance. We hear about DI Ben Jones' gran, she of the portents and folk-superstitions, who warned young Ben about the dangers of lurking on moon-mad Midsomer Ridge, near the village of in Midsomer Stanton. During a total eclipse of the sun, a crowd gathers to watch, ignorant in the growing darkness that a murderer lurks within their midst. Jeremy Harper, an astronomer, is bludgeoned by a meteor, and an astrologer claims to predict each subsequent murder. Rivalries and illicit relationships amongst stargazers are unearthed, while Jones may be drawn to pathologist Dr. Kate Wilding (Tamzin Malleson). This mystery adheres closely to Midsomer's classic formula, where charming villages are beset with a high body-count, and denizens who inflict and suffer numerous creative malaises.

"The Sicilian Defense"
Writer Paul Logue creates a suspenseful puzzle, when a young girl, Harriet Farmer, wakes up from a mysterious coma. And no one knows what happened to her boyfriend Finn, who mysteriously disappeared around the same time she was attacked. Who knew that the world of chess could be so fraught with danger? But this is Midsomer, after all! When the girl awakes, murders ensue, and she remains in danger from a serial killer. As is usual with Midsomer, all is not as it seems; beneath the surface are extreme and dangerous tensions, with numerous suspects for Barnaby and Jones to contend with.

"Schooled in Murder"
Writer Lisa Holdsworth delivers a great story here. Thankfully, we are not inflicted with rubbish school kids (Set 22's unforgivable "Death in the Slow Lane"). This is a worthy addition to the classic series we have appreciated over the years. At the factory where the world-famous Midsomer Blue Cheese is made, a dairy worker, Debbie Moffett (Martine McCutcheon) is brutally murdered by a giant round of weaponized cheese; this could only happen (one would hope) in Midsomer's deadly and peculiar environs! The cheese-mystery is tied to a snobbish prep school nearby, where the murder-victim had been fiercely arguing with the school board, and the dairy is being faced with dreaded modernization.

Note: "Schooled in Murder" happens to be the last appearance of DI Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). We can only hope that Jones at least made off with some of that famous Midsomer Blue Cheese, a pungent and savory snack for the road. Good to hear that Jason Hughes has stated that he will be happy to be a guest in any future specials. This inimitable series continues, amidst Midsomer's deceptively bucolic hills and dales. After the departure of Jason Hughes, Gwilym Lee (Land Girls) joins the team, as DS Charlie Nelson, working with DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) in upcoming episodes.

Meanwhile, there is a wonderful mystery series, set in the U.K.'s blustery, beautiful Northumbria, based upon novels by Ann Cleeves (Crow Trap), featuring the great Brenda Blethyn as caustic DCI Vera Stanhope: Vera,Vera: Set 2,Vera, Set 3 (to be released). Be sure to have plenty of hot, strong tea and Carr's Ginger Lemon Creme Cookies on hand.

And you may want to catch Neil Dudgeon's unforgettable performance in a superb story (episode 3) in the BAFTA Award winning series The Street, the first season. He plays Brian Peterson, a teacher accused of being a flasher, whose wife waivers in her trust. Peterson gazes out of a taxi window passing street after fogbound street, each full of stories about the complexity of life with its moments of mystery. Be aware that The Street can be gritty and harrowing, unlike Midsomer's hills and dales.

Enjoy!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2014
All series ultimately change, and morph into slightly different patterns. MM has lost some of its overall lightness, there's a little less comic edge. The stories are darker, and in the last one of the season five bodies ultimately turn up. That may be a series record; I'll have to go back through the earlier ones to check. The scenery is lush, the actors wonderful, and Sykes is a great dog. I just have a feeling that the plotting hasn't yet gelled. Certain plot elements come out of nowhere; a murderer confesses for no apparent reason, etc. This season is better than the last one, though. It's a shame DS Jones is leaving; we'll have to see how the new DS works out. All in all, still worth watching, but it didn't excite the way some episodes of the old version did.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 24, 2014
MIDSOMER MURDERS, SET 24 here makes its North American and Blu-Ray debut. The British television series premiered in the United Kingdom in March 1997 and has been one of its most popular, longest-running mystery series. More than 100 feature-length episodes have aired since then, with more new episodes still in production. In the United States, the British mystery series has been seen on A & E, the Biography Channel and public television stations. However, these episodes of set 24 are the second half of Series 15 (2012-13), which broadcast first exclusively on Acorn TV. The current release consists of three contemporary feature-length standalone police procedurals, set, as their predecessors, in the gorgeous, picture perfect, but evidently dangerous precincts of Midsomer County. The DVD release is a boxed set of three disks, runs approximately 279 minutes, plus an extra and subtitles, though the latter are hardly needed as the cast speaks the Queen’s English and the sound is crystal clear. I received this as a review copy.

In the current series, DCI John Barnaby, (Neil Dudgeon, LIFE OF RILEY), has capably taken over the duties at the cop shop formerly performed by his cousin Tom Barnaby, (John Nettles). Barnaby is assisted by his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones, (Jason Hughes, THIS LIFE). Guest stars include Martine McCutcheon, (LOVE, ACTUALLY); Cheryl Campbell, ( CALL THE MIDWIFE); Maggie Steed, (PIE IN THE SKY); Kate Ashfield, (LINE OF DUTY, SHAUN OF THE DEAD); Georgia Mckenzie,(WATERLOO ROAD) and Julie Graham,(THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE, WILLIAM AND MARY). Barnaby’s dog, Sykes, gets an extra of his very own; his biography.

MIDSOMER is based upon the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, lauded as “the best detective writer since Agatha Christie” by the Sunday Times, UK. And it is amazing what goes on behind the carefully-trimmed hedges of the county: homicide, blackmail, betrayal. And equally amazing that anyone should choose to live in these cozy looking villages that are so dangerous.

The episodes are:

Disc 1
WRITTEN IN THE STARS
An amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head during a total eclipse of the sun. Barnaby and Jones investigate the local star-gazing community of Midsomer Stanton and wonder: was the victim the victim of a curse on the land on which the observatory is built, a straying spouse, corporate greed, or a secret astrological discovery?

Disc 2
THE SICILIAN DEFENCE
The detectives investigate the murder of a chess society president and find a connection to an attack the previous year on a young couple trying to elope: the chess society president’s comely daughter and the village’s handsome young womanizer. Championship chess is at play; a killer leaves chess notations at the crime scenes. Barnaby finds a 13-year-old chess prodigy helpful in breaking the case.

Disc 3
SCHOOLED IN MURDER
A young woman is crushed to death by a giant wheel of cheese. She had been embroiled in controversy both at the dairy where she worked, which produces the famous Midsomer Blue cheese, and at the local prep school, endowed by the dairy, which she had once attended and her daughter now attends. There are several gruesome murders: are they related to secret plans to modernize the dairy? A group of young prep school alumnae with ties to the dairy finds their bitter, curdled secrets coming to light. Some disturbing images in this episode.

Well, the scenery is lush, the mysteries are light, without bloodshed or violence, the acting is good, the plots are imaginative and original, laced with humor. There’s no secret to the series’ appeal.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2014
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I was hesitant to accept John Nettles replacement, Neil Dudgeon. His first episode was "Death in the Slow Lane." I was pleasantly surprised. That episode is one of my all time favorites. Jason Hughes, as Jones gave the series continuity. I have purchased every Midsomer Murder set and will not hesitate to purchase more in the future.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2014
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Took a little getting use to the new DCI John Barnaby but you pulled it off. I really expected DS Ben Jones to be promoted to the position and was disappointed when that didn't happen. Set Twenty-One made DS Jones appear slow on the uptake but got up to par by the end of the set. DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) appeared as a morally loose man in "Garden of Death" Set Three. This series has substance and is tied up with several major events in my life when it was running on PBS Sunday afternoons. I always pre-order as PBS doesn't show this anymore.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2014
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I only watched the first of the three episodes and for the first time ever in this series, I fell asleep! It was so boring....and I picked out the killer when he first came on the scene! Not one of the better works in this series. Thank God Jason was still on board. I wish he hadn't left the series. I know this is the last of his appearances and will give the new fellow a try but if the episodes continue to be boring, I'll stop purchasing any more of them.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2014
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We are huge fans of this series, owning all since the first. Since the departure of John Nettles the series has slid and been attempting to find it's feet.
This recent installment showed slight improvement over the last two but this is more than the changing cast. The writing has become substantially weaker, as if a new team were attempting to "get to know" the characters. Ben Jones is the best example of this, with the loss of Tom Barnaby he had been reduced to buffoon status, a comic sidekick. Now he is an often wrong sounding board.
The plot develop and resolution on each of the new three are at best predictable and at worst cliche.
I would strongly recommend, if you have Netflix, to wait until they become available and then make a purchasing decision. This is our plan of action as we're no longer confident in the quality that has been the staple of "Midsomer Murders".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2014
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if jason hughes sgtl jones quits,,,i am thru with midsommer..evertime you get a good sgt. troy was great, didn't like the middle onel and jones is great he makes the shows continuity with the series...we love british t. v. better than U.S. stuff, we only watcch british t.v. you folks have a wonderful way of making movies...come on jones stay in there..dudgeon is good but he needs a great parterner. dan campbell, texas
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
One of the reasons MIDSOMER MURDERS has been so loved by its loyal fan base for so long is because it is so reliable. Reliability, while it implies familiarity, can also encompass change. At key intervals in its production history, MIDSOMER MURDERS has made changes that might have signaled the death knell for lesser loved programs. Losing the likable Daniel Casey as Sgt Gavin Troy after almost 30 episodes is the first example. Troy's interaction with his superior DCI Tom Barnaby set the tone of the series as much as did the bizarre murders and hint of rot under the idyllic Englishness of Midsomer county. After Casey's departure, the handful of episodes featuring John Hopkins as Troy's replacement, Sgt Dan Scott, maintained the status quo, but did little more, simply because Hopkins left the show before a comparable chemistry was established between his character and Barnaby. Had it not been for John Nettles' steady presence, the show might well have buckled under the weight of this interruption in character continuity. On the other hand, it helped stimulate a curiosity about who would next be helping Tom Barnaby solve his cases. This helped loyal fans adopt a wait and see what happens next attitude. Not a bad thing for a mystery program.

Next up, the arrival of Jason Hughes as Sgt Ben Jones, while not as unsettling as Dan Scott's replacing Sgt Troy, was nonetheless another adjustment viewers' had to make. This time though, the change was almost like a breath of fresh air as the two main characters got to know one another. It didn't take long for Jones to become popular with audiences, to the point where he seriously challenged and in some peoples' opinion won first place in terms of popularity amongst the three Sgts thus far partnered with Tom Barnaby.

Then came the ultimate test: could the show survive the departure of John Nettles? Wisely, Nettles recognized the reality that he himself (and thus Tom Barnaby) had reached retirement age. Should he not quit while still believable in the role and before he burned out? Equally wisely, Nettles announced his decision to leave MIDSOMER MURDERS well in advance of his actual departure. This allowed faithful viewers to adjust to the coming upheaval. It was as much Nettles' perceived calmness about his decision to leave the show than anything else that helped people make the adjustment. "Everything will be fine," he seemed to be saying. Everything else was to remain: the beautiful locations, the almost constant sunlight, the eccentric characters, the imaginative deaths, etc. "And what's more, a wonderful replacement will be found," we were reassured.

And indeed it came to pass. Neil Dudgeon was introduced in such a way that his easy relationship with "cousin Tom" immediately dispelled any concerns of major revamping. There were differences in the two men, true, but enough similarities to take us comfortably through the transition. Nettles departure from the show in the episode Fit for Murder was low-key, classy and dignified. We didn't want him to go, but we wished him well and wanted the best for him. What's more we wanted the best for his successor, cousin John. Not many show's can pull this off and maintain its popularity. All in all, the major changes that have occurred on MIDSOMER MURDERS have all had positive repercussions and in hindsight, might even look like strokes of genius, to keep the show not just afloat, but continuing on its astounding voyage.

Now, after the last episode of this current set of three episodes being released in North America, MIDSOMER MURDERS is poised for further change. Jason Hughes' character, Sgt Ben Jones, is leaving the show and a fourth Barnaby associate has begun his association with the series. We won't get to see him until the next set of MIDSOMER MURDERS is available over here, but apparently the new episodes already broadcast in the U.K. bode well for yet another timely change in the life of this great show.

Of the three episodes in this current set, what accolades can be given that haven't already been said of previous episodes? They're all good, with the third, Schooled for Murder, being particularly entertaining. Sykes the dog features in all three episodes but especially in the last, to the point where he perhaps inspired his own biography, the sole extra feature included in this set. Sykes' contribution in Schooled for Murder is laugh out loud funny. It leaves you craving more MIDSOMER, even when the winds of change are again ablowin'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
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Neil Dudgeon a poor substitute for John Nettles
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