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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon April 11, 2008
I love this droll, darkly humorous series set in the fictional UK county of Midsomer. Finally, the initial 18 episodes are available in the order they were first broadcast in the UK. What a treat!

There's something cozy about the madness behind the rustic hedges and lush landscape of this wonderful old-school murder mystery series. Midsomer is a contained world populated with slightly inbred middle-class eccentrics. The colorful villagers -- vicars, birdwatchers and cricket players mingle with -- and in some cases are -- murderers of great, if flawed, creativity.

Especially delicious are the first five titles taken directly from the novels of Caroline Graham. I have enjoyed "Killings At Badger's Drift," "Written In Blood," and "Death Of A Hollow Man" multiple times.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettle) brings a reasoned mature calm to the lurking menace of the deceptively heavenly, stately environs. A decent and normal man who represents the best of his breed. And make no mistake, this series is very much about breeding. Barnaby's sidekick DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) is the perfect youthful -- sometimes naive, sometimes intuitive, sometimes brash -- balance to the proceedings.

This kind of closed story-telling, in which killings are center stage and around which all the action takes place, is reassuring in a world that often reflects far harsher realities. It's reassuring because there is closure and all is put in order and justice on some level is meted out. At least for the time-being.

The production is top notch all round. Colorful minor characters abound -- often stars in the making (see Orlando Bloom and others in early episodes).

What sets this apart for me, is the balance of Barnaby's private life with the horrors of his professional life. It seems he's learned a lesson from his work and that is to appreciate even the minor irritations of domestic bliss and fatherhood, like his wife's penchant for experimental culinary experimentations and his daughter's thespian aspirations. Very Hitchcockian English humor.

There are 18 episodes. The smooth transition from Graham's novels to episodes based on her characters is seamless and sometimes just as diabolically clever.

A lot of care has gone into the creation and maintenance of this terrific series. There are a total of 30 hours of delectably dastardly doings in this package as well as "Super Sleuths," a fascinating bonus documentary that takes a look at the first decade of "Midsomer Murders."

If classic murder mysteries are your cup of tea, don't miss this timeless set.

Beautiful packaging (the shadow of an axe murderer is on the outer box, and on the inner sleeve he's gone!) and the plastic "page fold" multiple disc case is the best I've seen.

Highest recommendation.
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