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Midsomer Murders: Set 18 (Small Mercies / The Creeper / The Great and the Good)
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"The British rural version of Law & Order" --San Francisco Chronicle
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 Sergeant Ben Jones. Guest stars include Margaret Tyzack, Jenny Agutter, Nickolas Grace, Caroline Blakiston, Paul Shelley, and Paul Chapman.
Small Mercies--Little Worthing’s model village is the highlight of its tourism trade--until a dead body disfigures it.
The Creeper--A cat burglar’s robberies expose the dark secrets of a prominent family.
The Great and the Good--A village school’s possible closing leads to murder, mayhem, and a sleepwalking schoolteacher.
Top Customer Reviews
Graham had a penchant for "interesting" characters and over the years, the show's writers have stayed true to the author's taste. Often quirky, sometimes downright odd, the characters and their many idiosyncrasies are central to each episode. Along with the uniformly first-rate acting, the quality writing and the intricate plots, they have helped to keep the show dependably entertaining. It is the only television show on my auto-buy list.
With elements of the traditional whodunit, non-graphic police procedural and old-fashioned British cozy, Midsomer Murders should appeal to a variety of murder mystery fans. Barnaby is an approachable type and episodes nicely mix his work and home lives. His wife Joyce and daughter Cully appear often and occasionally find themselves involved in his investigations. The series has very little overall story arc and episodes exist more or less independent of one another. IMHO, they need not be viewed in broadcast order. Barnaby's Detective Sergeants do change a number of times over the run of the series, though, so viewers who might be annoyed by viewing episodes out of order for that reason should start at the beginning. (Oddly, with this series, it's actually Box Set #5 that contains the first aired episodes. After that, proceed with Box Sets #1, #2, #3, #4, #6 etc.)
My only gripe with Set 18 is that it includes only three episodes, rather than the more usual four. They complete the 12th Season of the show and are as follows:
* Small Mercies (Episode 71): In a model village located in Little Worthy, a man's body is found tied to the ground a la Gulliver in the land of Lilliput.
* The Creeper (Episode 72): Has "The Creeper", a cat burglar selectively stealing from homes in the Midsomer villages moved on to murder?
* The Great & the Good (Episode 73): Schoolteacher Connie Bishop fears she is killing the men of Badger's Drift while sleep-walking.
Because of the somewhat unorthodox behavior of a number of the characters, some rare flashes of nudity and the often gruesome nature of the crimes, I feel Midsomer Murders is best suited to older teens and adults.
* All three episodes included in Set 18 have SDH subtitles.
* If you're thinking of waiting for the Blu-ray version, please note that as of today, nearly four months after the DVD release of Set 17, the Blu-ray version of that set is not yet available for order. If you're not in any hurry... :-)
* After The Great & the Good, only 8 episodes remain for release here in the United States starring John Nettles as Tom Barnaby. Barnaby then retires from the force (and Nettles from the series) and his cousin John Barnaby, portrayed by Neil Dudgeon, takes over his post.
John Nettles. He has toughness toward crime, but softness toward his daughter Culley who doesn't appear in this set. This cop character makes watching suspenseful murder mysteries a pleasure. It's primarily murder mystery in a quaint little rural village in Midsomer County. (The MM series is known for it's picturesque footage.) Multiple murders have been happening for so long (a trademark of this show) it's a wonder there is anyone left to arrest. Fear not, this series is as good as any you have seen. If you are new to Midsomer Murders and CI Barnaby, then hold on to your hat. I'd strongly recommend buying one of the box sets already available.
IN SET #18, wife Joyce is still in the picture, making moments of each episode a homey experience, but not for long. Every phone call seems to be a new murder, and a call away from the delightful cooking that Joyce provides for her love. Barnaby keeps his helper, DS Jones (Jason Hughes), very busy. Smashing series, Spot ON since the very first episodes, many years ago. But can the show survive without Barnaby (Nettles)? We'll be finding out soon enough. But not in Set 18.
3 longer-than-feature-length episodes makes the per episode price a bargain compared to new feature-length theater movies.
Price was reduced from other sets like #17 reflecting 3, not 4, episodes.
SUBTITLES included. Entertainment guaranteed.
Watching old and new guest stars are as fun as the plots themselves.
Gulliver (corpse) comes to a small English village, tied to the earth, but stabbed to death. Since one murder is never enough in Midsomer, his girlfriend is also killed. On then to a third, not that unusual in this series, when an elderly lady long in the community is killed. Barnaby has his investigative skills tested when this series of murders and evidence seems to go back several decades. Secrets are also common in Midsomer. Look for stars Olivia Colman (Peep Show), Caroline Blakiston (Scoop, see it), Margaret Tyzack (Indiana Jones), David Ryall (good in Lytton's Diary), and more.
Chief constable's house is robbed by a person having gotten the crime name, Creeper. Later he pays CI Barnaby's home a visit as well, but for more interesting reasons than burgling. An old crook, Godbolt, was celebratized in a book by writer, Dr. David Roper (Rik Mayell guest). University contemporaries, Chettham & Filby, and Roper are involved, but how? And murder begins to take out the players of this mystery. What is the link between another Chettham family member and the night-bandit, Creeper? Barnaby has his hands full, even with spoon fed clues. Jenny Agutter guests as a Chettham; and Amanda Ryan (Forsyte Saga) guest stars as a Filby.
The Great and the Good
Until a man is found murdered in her garden, a teacher of town is not taken seriously about her constant suggestions of someone entering her house. The victim was believed to be interested in the teacher, making her suspect immediately, well, according to wealthy Zukie (Suzanne Burden- `MT-Bleak House'). The next murder, multiples obligatory for Midsomer, is a fix-it man. Is the teacher the murderess, as she begins to believe herself? Barnaby's investigations uncover some interesting items in the teacher's home. Paul Kaye guest stars as does Tim Wylton (`The Bretts' Sutton), & Paul Chapman (Colditz).
As always, Midsomer Murders is a mix of humor, crime, and relationships. This show completed writing the book on good crime investigation TV long ago and never looked back. A fantastic cast, nearing an end with Nettles, however. Not to fear yet, plenty of DVD episodes to be released first. And the show will go on with a new cast lead. Any show that is written this well, can deal with that issue. Midsomer Murders is an investment in more than entertainment. I've noticed that used sell for almost as much as new. But I own them all, and I've not tried to sell even one. My wife would not let me if I wanted to.
The DVDs ****
Small Mercies--Little Worthy's model village is the highlight of its tourist trade--until a dead body disfigures it.
The Creeper--A cat burglar's robberies expose the dark secrets of a prominent family.
The Great and the Good--A village school's possible closing leads to murder, mayhem, and a sleepwalking schoolteacher.
John Nettles is still in top form, making it sad that he will be leaving after set 20. But at least I will be able to enjoy a few more of his quirky investigations here.
Series 12 was one episode short in production, making this the shortest Acorn DVD release of the series. John's last series (13) returns to its full 8 episode run which will mean that Acorn's sets 19 & 20 will return to 4 episodes each next year.
DVD FEATURES INCLUDE an interview with star Jason Hughes (23 min.).
Three mysteries of approx. 100 min. each, plus bonus; color; stereo; 16:9 widescreen; British mystery; not rated; SDH subtitles
The series' quality remains very high, and I join all MM fans in lamenting the imminent departure of John Nettles, however I trust that the creative team has chosen well in casting Neil Dudgeon as his replacement, though I am totally unfamiliar with his work.
Incidentally, the first episode of this set, ''Small Mercies,'' has, in a small part, one Abigail Thaw, daughter of our beloved Morse, John Thaw.
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