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Back to Classic Midsomer!,
This review is from: Midsomer Murders, Set 22 (DVD)
In the U.K., these four mysteries were originally part of a season with four previous episodes, released here as "Set 21." Thankfully, these four stories return to the offbeat, humorous alternative universe that Midsomer fans crave. What could be more enticing than pints of bubbly cider with DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DI Ben Jones (Jason Hughes)? But beware, in Midomer County, even Beltane celebrations are treacherous. Children dance around a Maypole, whilst fat sausages roast under the refreshments tent, and the cider is not all it seems. 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's bucolic hills and dales. Thankfully, DCI John Barnaby is as gifted at detection as his cousin Tom. The Barnaby line is rooted in Midsomer's earth, they are dependable in never being surprised by bizarre occurrences. Nothing flummoxes or gobsmacks a true Barnaby. The excellent actor Neil Dudgeon enriches Midsomer with his wry nuance. And Jason Hughes is intrepid as Detective Inspector Ben Jones, his humor adds another level of complexity to the series. Coziness in the U.K. has a macabre stain; like a lace doily blotched with tea, darkness lurks at the edges. In Midsomer County's dangerous environs, denizens inflict and suffer numerous creative malaises.
The U.K. boasts numerous fine (and often underrated) actors. While you impatiently wait for more "Midsomer," you may want to catch Neil Dudgeon in an unforgettable performance in a superb story in episode 3 of the first season of the BAFTA Award winning series The Street Complete Collection. Neil Dudgeon plays Brian Peterson, a teacher accused of being a flasher. Ultimately, who is the betrayer? His wife claims she has never known him, perhaps it is the other way around. As Brian Peterson gazes out of a taxi window passing street after fogbound street, you understand that each street is full of stories, each person's life with it's moments of mystery. Be aware that The Street is gritty, rough, and harrowing, quite unlike Midsomer!
As to these four eagerly anticipated episodes of "Midsomer," each story is 90 minutes long, and subtitles are provided. Further episodes have been created since this offering, but their U.S. release is a long slog away. Some impatient Midsomer fans resort to purchasing via the U.K., to play on Region-free DVD players.
The Sleeper Under The Hill
Midsomer fans know that under the cheery, bucolic surface of Midsomer's green hills and dales, a darkly pagan heart fiercely lurks; this helps explain the untoward death-toll. On Crowcall Farm, Alex Preston wants to plow Gorse Meadow. But local New Dawn Druids desire free access to the Meadow, since it contains the sacred stone Crowcall Circle. In a typically gruesome Midsomer death, Preston is found disemboweled on the central stone of the sacred circle. The farmer's wife is too glamorous, and indulges in a dalliance with her fencing-master. A poacher is accused of malfeasance, whilst lay-lines and archaeological artifacts come into play. Barnaby and Jones must unearth local village gossip and history to solve the mystery.
The Night of The Stag
Watch out! It's another pagan holiday in Midsomer County, where moonshiner investigators have it hard. Why ruin a vat of cider with a corpse? Answer: this is Midsomer, after all! And poor DCI John Barnaby gets quite sick on the unsavoury stuff. His dog Sykes is not impressed. During Beltane celebrations, an investigator of illegally produced alcohol is found dead in cider-vat. Barnaby and Jones believe the whole community is somehow involved. Families go so far back that they call one orchard-owner "French" because his ancestors only came over with William the Conqueror. The unsavory murder may be related to the revival of an old, pagan Midsomer traditions, while guest-star Warren Clarke does a memorable turn in a deer-skull. Beware horns in Midsomer!
After a chapel's lovely stained-glass window is broken, a nun is found murdered in Midsomer Priory, a secluded community in a lovely edifice that houses the nuns of the Order of Saint Mathilde. The murder forces the nuns to permit the outside world access into their world; enter our intrepid detectives Barnaby and Jones. They discover that the community is vulnerable to relinquishing ownership, and their priest is no help. The Priory is subject to a Deed of Trust that only allows the Order to remain living there only as long as there is a viable community. If the Order fractures, the ownership reverts to the original benefactor's heirs. Beneath the calm face of the Priory, Barnaby and Jones must untangle a skein of motives, while the Order's ancient silver goes missing, and teenagers run amiss.
A Rare Bird
Beware the power of the tweet. The president of the local Ornithological Society, Patrick Morgan, is a brittle bloke, myopic about birds, distracted by binoculars, and his delicate Russian ballerina of a wife is preggers. Without much assistance from said ornithologist. So he suspects every man in Midsomer-in-the-Marsh of impregnating her. The rare Blue Crested Hoopoe has made a controversial appearance in the village, setting birders against one another. DCI Barnaby annoys his dog, and his wife, with his surprising lack of map-skills in the woods. Death looms like a loon-call on a lake, and Patrick is lured to his demise. Barnaby and Jones face frustrations whilst investigating Midsomer-in-the-Marsh's binocular-weaponed world of bird watching.
Special Features: Cast Filmographies, Picture Gallery, Writer Biography, Broadcast Dates.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 10, 2012 8:14:58 AM PST
C. Irish says:
Great, thorough review!! Thanks for taking the time to write such an excellent review!
Posted on Mar 22, 2013 1:34:14 PM PDT
How is it that you have seen these episodes when they haven't even been released in the US yet?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2013 1:46:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2013 1:48:33 PM PDT
Good question! I've resorted to obtaining a region-free DVD player here (worth every penny/not that expensive) that permits the wonderful freedom of watching DVDs ordered from elsewhere, like Amazon UK. Even right here, Amazon offers many DVDs that simply require a region-free player. Via our local Amazon, I obtained DVDs from Australia that took only a week to arrive. What a delight to have a world of UK (and other) programming to enjoy. Even the subtitles are fun: tyres for tires, etc. ;) Good luck!
Posted on May 26, 2013 1:34:25 PM PDT
I don't know what to think. Have been a fan forever it seems and the first series with this new leader left me cold - well it didn't really - I was mad. I hope this new offer has less self importance issues, constantly mentioning his degree/profession, talking down to Jones and treating the doctor as though he were a medical student. I believe the doctor left the series - shame as I liked him. So we shall see. The review was excellent. Perhaps whomever wrote it should write a decent script!
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2013 12:56:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2013 12:57:48 PM PDT
Blimey Limey, thank you for your kind comment! And I agree with your astute assessment of the poor intro to the new Barnaby: "Death in the Slow Lane," by Michael Aitkens was abysmal. You may know that in the U.K., the episodes released here as "Set 21" were combined in one collection with the ones reviewed here as "Set 22." These last four episodes are an improvement. But the six episodes that follow may eventually (don't hold your breath) be released in the U.S. as Set 23 unfortunately also feature another off-putting, silly (in a bad way) script by Michael Aitkens. And overall, less enjoyable banter between Jones and Barnaby; another perplexing loss of characterization.
I have imagined writing a script for the series, given the wealth of material and talented cast. It should have been fairly easy not to offend a loyal fan-base, and write more decent stories!
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2013 9:14:59 PM PDT
Stop imagining - start writing! You can do this and I'll be waiting. All you have to do is to write Barbaby out of the series and promote Jones - how easy is that?
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 10:32:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2013 12:54:52 PM PDT
Thank you, what a treat to find your reply! Sorry I took so long to answer your kind comment. I must write, and write, and write some more ;) But try these new offerings, when they come out, they are an improvement on that dreadful introduction. Legions of loyal fans, a great cast, Neil Dudgeon, Jason Hughes, etc., deserve better scripts.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 11:11:03 AM PDT
Yes you must! I am waiting.
Posted on Jul 30, 2013 7:32:35 PM PDT
I just wish to thank Rocky Mountain for sending us to The Street. Fantastic series! M-Man
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2013 12:25:49 PM PDT
Thank you for your comment, M-Man, glad to hear it! Yeah, there's nothing else like the The Street, fantastic work and Neil Dudgeon (amongst all the other fine actors) is superb in that first-season story. If you have a taste for unique, gritty & excellent U.K. offerings, you might want to also try Life On Mars: The Complete Collection (U.K.). It's a down to earth Manchester series, despite certain mysterious aspects ;) I reviewed that one as well... glad to share these great viewing experiences.