MIDSOMER MURDERSSet 18 (2011)
Producer: Brian True-May
Directors: Peter Smith, Renny Rye, Richard Holthouse
Writers: Peter Hammond, Andrew Payne, David Hoskins
(Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham)
Cast: John Nettles, Jason Hughes, Jane Wymark, Barry Jackson, Kirsty Dillion...
Guest stars include: Margaret Tyzak, Caroline Blakiston, Olivia Colman, Paul Bentall, Jesse Birdsall, Jenny Agutter, Julian Wadham, Rik Mayall, Nancy Carol, Paul Chapman, Suzanne Burden...
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not Rated
Run time: Approx. 100 minutes per episode. Contains 3 episodes.
Available on DVD
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
This series is based on characters from the novels of Caroline Graham.
In this set of three episodes, John Nettles is still portraying Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. Capable assistant DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) is still assigned as Barnaby's partner. However WPC Stephens (Kirsty Dillion) seems to have been promoted. She's now listed in the credits as DC (Detective Constable) Gail Stephens. Now she's out of her uniform and into "plainclothes."
As with any long-running series, there are bound to be fluctuations in the quality of the storylines. After all, even in the Midsomer villages there are bound to be limits on how many people can be killed in how many different ways for how many different reasons, but the writers continue to give it a go.
In Small Mercies, a body is discovered on the greens in Little Worthy's model replica of the village. The elderly sisters who own the popular tourist attraction are none too pleased with Barnaby for closing the exhibit down to investigate a murder. Especially the murder of someone they disliked!
The best part of this episode is the model village, itself. Most of the characters in the real village are rather uninteresting.
A prominent (and rather snobbish, for the most part) family's dark secrets are exposed in The Creeper. A burglar has been making the rounds in the night and stealing various objects while the victims are sleeping. Barnaby and Jones are under pressure to catch the thief who, despite their best efforts, continues to elude them. Suddenly the stakes are raised when a murder is committed in the same place and on the same night as a burglary.
How Barnaby puts up with this snobbish family is beyond me. I'd want to smack the "Lady" of the house every time I had to speak in her presence, if I were Barnaby. Perhaps he would like to as well. He handles the situation much more delicately than I would have. The ending of this one is fun.
The final episode, The Great and the Good, is a bit of a strange one as it unfolds. A young local schoolteacher seems a bit odd, or paranoid. We meet her as she is dangling from her upstairs bedroom window, screaming for help. The villagers take it all in stride. Several of the men of the village come to her "rescue" while their wives and other women look on a bit disinterestedly. We soon learn that she is a notorious sleepwalker. Or a "nutter." Or both. However, when people begin dying, just like in her dreams, the sleepwalking takes on a more sinister tone. Is she murdering villagers in her sleep? Or just murdering villagers? Barnaby and Jones must sort out what is really going on...before anyone else dies.
Diehard Midsomer fans won't want to miss these latest episodes recently released in the U.S. but I'm not sure they will garner any new fans for the series.
Season 14 in the UK (which is not the same as the numbered "sets" released in the U.S. and Canada) introduced DCI Tom Barnaby's replacement. The episode aired 23 March, 2011. In the U.S. and Canada, there are 8 more episodes from Season 13 (UK) to be released before we'll see the new Barnaby; estimated to be released in the U.S. and Canada sometime in 2013. The series is still being filmed in the UK, as far as I know. However, Set #18 only covers the last half of 2009. So we have a long way to go before we'll be able to view the episodes currently being filmed. That is, unless you own a non-regional DVD player. Then you can catch up faster by ordering the latest UK releases directly from the UK as soon as they become available.
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