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In Mourning Over the Death of a Masterpiece!,
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This review is from: Midsomer Murders, Set 22 (DVD)
I have been an avid and devout fan of Midsomer Murders from its first airing. I have re-watched every episode. Suffice it to say, I was heartbroken when John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby left the show. I was doubtful that the series could carry on without him. Still, trying to be optimistic; I held out hope that I could learn to enjoy the series with Neil Dudgeon as DCI John Barnaby. I like Neil Dudgeon. I saw him in The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries and thought he was charming.
My opinion and this review is definitely slanted by my love and enjoyment of the original. I have tried to judge the "new" show on its own merits and it does have one, which I'll mention when I've finished ranting. I can't do an unbiased review. I can't help but compare. I am in mourning for the original.
My grief is fresh as I just barely finished this latest installment. The first four episodes without John Nettles were an incredible disappointment but I wanted to be fair; giving new DCI John Barnaby and DS Ben Jones some time to gel. Sadly, in my opinion, these four episodes show no improvement over the previous four. In fact, I found them to be worse. As of this writing, I am not looking forward to the next set and don't think I'll watch it.
My biggest complaint has to be the appearance of contempt for the existing department, lead by Tom Barnaby, specifically his long-time sergeant, Ben Jones, and pathologist, Dr. George Bullard (who left the show in the first installment of the "new" MSM,) displayed by DCI John Barnaby. This was confusing to me because John and Tom are cousins and Tom was no slouch! Why the contempt? In addition, Jones and Bullard were also exceptional at their respective jobs. Why did the writers do this? There was no need to make John out to be the savior of a sinking ship! Of course he's going to do things his way, but why this, arrogance and smugness?
I hate what has been done to DS Ben Jones played by Jason Hughes. Before writing this review I watched again every episode since Jones, then a PC, joined the show in House in the Woods. He began as a bright lad who caught the attention of DCI Tom Barnaby and was elevated to DC to work alongside Barnaby. I watched him grow as a detective and he earned his sergeant rank in This Year's Model. The writing played up a rapport between Barnaby and Jones that was often comical but always respectful. I enjoyed this aspect of MSM with all of Barnaby's sergeants over the seasons.
I guess I have taken, what I see as an affront to Jones, personally. Silly, I suppose, for a grown-up to do regarding a television program, but nonetheless here I sit whining and wailing. If I drank, I might be crying into a pint of bitter or a G&T. Ben's character has taken a beating, and I don't think it was necessary in order to show that DCI John Barnaby is a good detective. Jones's fun and often funny interactions with Tom Barnaby and other supporting cast members left when the cast left but couldn't something along the same line be emulated? I lay my disapproval, disappointment, and crankiness directly at the feet of whomever is responsible for making this "new" MSM what it is! It is not Dudgeon's fault, in fact he plays his part as DCI John Barnaby brilliantly.
I smile when I think back over some of the funnier scenes with Jones, the look on his face in Country Matters when it sinks in just what is going on at the culinary school, riding stables, and shooting center. Then there is his floundering around for the right way to describe a rather lurid depiction of an "orgy" and coming up with, "loin-instigated" in The Animal Within. Or the time, in The Black Book, his obvious discomfort looking at an intimate nude painting and said, "Nice rods," referring to some split cane fishing rods hanging adjacent to the painting. Now, he seems to be an inept joke.
I read that Hughes has left the show. I haven't verified the truth of this, and if it is true; I don't know the circumstances surrounding his leaving, but if it was by his own choosing, I don't blame him. I hope he's moving on to something as good or better than his role of Ben Jones alongside John Nettles as Tom Barnaby. Hughes's leaving will complete the mass exodus from the original MSM. So, the series I loved is no more. Farewell to: John Nettles as the incomparable DCI Tom Barnaby, Jane Wymark as Tom's wife Joyce, Laura Howard as their daughter Cully, Kirsty Dillon as DC Gail Stephens, Barry Jackson as Dr. George Bullard, and now Jason Hughes.
I guess it is too late to suggest that perhaps a smarter route to have taken was in making DCI John Barnaby a spin-off such as Inspector Lewis from the Morse series. Maybe that would have been a better choice straight out of the box?
I won't go into detail about each episode since Nettles left (eight, as of this writing Aug. 2013) but I just have to mention Night of the Stag in this set. I have enjoyed many of the previous fanciful and far-fetched plot premises of the past, but Night of the Stag went too far. Way, way, way too far! I think I watched the entire ninety minutes with my mouth open in stunned shock. I kept looking over at my husband and as we exchanged looks of disgust; I heard myself saying things like, "Oh, my gosh! They've got to be joking!!! This is a nightmarish dream sequence, right? Someone's going to wake up and it will all be over, right? What in the world?" As the final scene of this episode came to an end, I was certain that Jones, Barnaby, or both were going to be killed and thus would end not only the nightmare of this terrible episode but what was for me, the nightmare of this set.
When reading this review please keep in mind that I am in mourning.
Oh, the one thing I found enjoyable about this new MSM? I love the dog, Sykes. Good boy!
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Showing 1-10 of 42 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 13, 2013 9:13:14 AM PDT
Thank you very much!!! It is sad to say but show is A Goner!!!
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2013 8:08:43 AM PDT
It is gratifying to hear of your agreement with me. It appears that we are in the minority. :-)
Posted on Sep 9, 2013 4:33:43 PM PDT
I wrote when this series first came out, after the exit of Tom Barnaby. I agree with the comments, that all the originals have disappeared. What annoyed me was the way the new Barnaby treated the doctor as though he were a first year medical student. I found his attitude to be most condescending and got thoroughly fed up with his constant reference to his 'degree'. A lot of us have them higher than a Masters too but we don't shove it down people's throats. I just found them very snobbish which didn't make for good entertainment. I have seen this actor in other roles and he is excellent. What the writers were thinking of when they created this persona beats me. I suppose the former DCI wanted to go onto other acting opportunities. Does anyone know where he went and what he is doing?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2013 9:13:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 24, 2013 9:19:07 AM PDT
Blimey Limey, Thanks for pointing out that the character of Dr. George Bullard was also mistreated in the "new" series. I also was impatient and quite annoyed by that! I am saddened, confused and a little miffed not only by this disparagement of the two characters that made the transition from the "old" MSM to the "new," but also by the insensitivity to the fans (like me) who loved the old MSM. After all why was the show so popular in the first place? I think they made a mistake in thinking that only John Nettles as Tom Barnaby was what made the show the success it was. As far as your question regarding what John Nettles is doing now I can only tell you what I read in other reviews which is that he retired. In a nutshell, (different from my emotional rant in my review :-)) I believe the failure, for me, of this new series is in the writing and creators. The acting remains very fine, the homes and cottages are beautiful, the gardens totally scrumptious, the pubs appealing and inviting (a pint, anyone?), the scenery gorgeous and of course, the accents brilliant! I will miss it. I'm still looking for something to feed my love for this kind of production.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2013 1:15:32 PM PDT
I agree with you. Being an ex-pat and constantly homesick, the scenery does the trick for me. I haven't seen any of the new ones other than the first so I'll probably wait until PBS Masterpiece Mystery picks it up. I really miss the old ones and watch those. I am sorry Lewis is over too. Enjoyed Oxford especially the library that appeared in just about every shot. Perhaps some creative force will emerge or even Sgt Jones will get his own show. Hope springs enternal!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2013 1:03:12 PM PDT
Blimey Limey, I too loved the Inspector Lewis series. I've pretty much seen all the great series that have anything to do with Britain. I love the history, the scenery, the sense of humor and on and on. Hope your homesickness is assuaged by some of the other great British series. I have several favorites. Sadly, no new ones though. Have you seen Foyle's War? It stars Michael Kitchen as DCI Foyle during WWII. Kitchen as Foyle is my all-time favorite male character in this genre...hmm...maybe just my plain favorite no matter the genre!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2013 2:50:42 PM PDT
thank you. We like Foyle's War but I am not sure of the new ones. Michael Kitchen is a great favourite too. What do you think of the new content? Did you ever see him play Prince Charles in some kind of documentary years ago? He is a brilliant actor. We watched Pie inthe Sky which was amusing and many others from the UK. I hope they create something new although I wouldn't complain if the original Inspector Barnarby would return. Sometimes I forget the actors are 'weathering/ripening' as am I! If you are interested in horticulature I just saw a DVD A Man Called Pearl. It is in the USA but it was breathtaking.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2013 4:58:01 AM PDT
Blimey Limey: Thought I'd post that I recently watched the new Foyle's War 7. The character Christopher Foyle remains his clever self. Sam, his driver returns. It was nice to have an update on how she was doing but all in all her side-plots were kind of distracting and if I'd been Foyle she would have gotten on my nerves. :-) As to the content I have mixed feelings. I haven't read what other reviewers have said but I struggled with his new position of being in MI-5. As a Brit I wonder what you might have to say about the portrayal of MI-5 shown in this series. I was disturbed by how they were portrayed in such a negative light. Anyway, I still love the Foyle character. It's too bad that he might be gone forever. Happy viewing.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2013 6:37:07 AM PDT
I do not like the word - disappointed. I have to admit that I am. I like the character Foyle and the actor who plays him. What I have discovered is that when the original series ends, the new one rarely has the magic. I found this in Foyle's War and Midsomer Murders. I believe Mr. Foyle could have continued very well as a Police Officer. Each segment was distinct and interesting. Frankly I think all these Secret Services are tarred with the same brush regardless of country because it is all about politics. I remember when I first came to the USA, people were surprised that I wasn't the Queen! Apparently we have this reputation of being decent, honest, openminded people. Most of us are but when it gets to undercover stuff, it amazes me that they can even trust each other. I sure there is a reason for their existence but I'm not quite sure what it is. This secrecy stuff - ugh! I agree with your comments about Sam although I was pleased to see her at first. It's getting 'lame' as some of my patients would say! I am sorry to say L Kirby that I think the portrayal was accurate - negative because of the constant plotting and lying. I don't know a lot about the FBI and the CIA and what I do know about is the average copper who does his or her job very well with no protection. I remember singing in the choir when I was a girl with the City of London Police Choir. What a dedicated group they were and still are. Even then their challenges were different from today. I admire the English Police very much but probably a series about them would be boring because they do what they are supposed to do. I would like to see and brand new series with a totally new aspect on life's challenges with a large chunk of humour included. when I was involved with the Police over there, some very funny incidents occurred so there is a story there. We'll just have to wait and see. I would like Foyle to go back to Hastings and continue to show us his brilliance in his detective methods. I don't even want Kitchen to play anyone else! Rather like Vincent di Nofria over here with Criminal Intent. Nobody did it better. Where is he now? Thank you for your post.
Posted on Nov 13, 2013 2:08:26 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 13, 2013 2:12:12 PM PST]