MIDSOMER MURDERS Set #25 (2014)

 

Producer: Jo Wright
Director(s): Nick Laughland, Alex Pillai, Renny Rye, and Luke Watson
Writer(s): Chris Murray, Paul Logue, Rachel Cuperman & Sally Griffiths, and Michael Aitkens

(Based on the characters of Caroline Graham)

Regular Cast: Neil Dudgeon, Gwilym Lee, Fiona Dolman, Tamzin Malleson...
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not rated.
Runtime: approx. 90 minutes per episode.

Genres: Crime drama/Mystery

Price: $49.99



Reviewed by Cherie Jung

(March, 2015)

 

Ben (Jason Hughes) is gone but not forgotten.

Mrs. Barnaby (Fiona Dolman) is with “bump.” (Translation: very pregnant)

Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee), the new Detective Sergeant is a “city boy” from London, referred to as a “tourist” by one of the villagers.

 

Half the fun of this series is figuring out where you’ve seen the guest stars before. A few examples: William Beck (Red Cap), Andrea Lowe (DCI Banks), Rebecca Frost (Inspector Lewis), James Murray (New Tricks), Elizabeth Berrington (Poirot), Emily Joyce (My Hero), Sharon Small (Inspector Lynley) or Haley Mills (Yes! That Hayley Mills. Moonspinners).

There are five episodes in this set. These latest episodes released on DVD make the previous set that I complained about seem less dull and more entertaining by comparison.

“The Christmas Haunting” A cluster of thrill-seeking villagers are searching for proof that various buildings in the village are being haunted by a young girl’s spirit. They set out to document any ghostly happenings. Mostly they discover dead bodies, culled from their own little group.

“Let Us Prey” – The discovery of a medieval fresco in a crumbling portion of a church seems to inspire a murderer.

“Wild Harvest” – A temperamental celebrity chef comes under suspicion when one of her assistants dies on the job. Or was she the intended victim?

“The Flying Club” – A small airfield is the suspected site of a murder. At least the body that floated to the surface of a nearby lake appears to have fallen out of a plane.

“The Killings of Copenhagen” – Barnaby and Nelson team up with their Danish counterparts, two female detectives, when British citizens from Midsomer keep turning up dead in Copenhagen. Since this is the 100th episode of Midsomer Murders, the producers decided to take DCI Barnaby and DS Nelson out of their UK comfort zone and plop them, fish-out-of-water style in Copenhagen.

This episode is probably more enjoyable if you happen to follow the Danish TV shows that the two female guest stars (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) are in. There are several light moments which are a welcome relief while the detectives are sorting through the clues and suspects. My biggest complaint is that while details of the murders unravel slowly and there are plenty of suspects to go around, in the end, the killer is the least likely person presented, in terms of physical ability, to act alone or carry out the murders and disposal of one of the dead bodies.

 

And now, a word or two about the new Detective Sergeant. Ho. Hum.

I enjoyed Jason Hughes’ portrayal of DS Jones and would gladly have watched him in the role of Detective Sergeant for many, many more episodes, without ever worrying about his promotion or lack thereof, as was also the case when Inspector Morse and his sergeant, Lewis, were together on TV years ago. I understand that it’s a TV program, not real life, and as such, I’m not worried about who hasn’t made the rank of Inspector yet.

The new guy, Gwilym Lee, is fairly innocuous. I was prepared to hate him but it’s not worth the bother. I dislike the disheveled look he sports. I find the facial stubble adds to a sloppy appearance that seems it would fit better in an American TV cop show, but then the entire look of the series is changing, not for the better, as far as I’m concerned. Instead of the “perfect” English country village setting – which in itself is a fantasy – the current producer has modernized the venue. We now have token Asians (For U.S. audiences, I’m referring to actors of Indian decent, not Chinese or Japanese), token Blacks and a modern “today” feel for Midsomer villages which no longer have a village feel at all. More and more often the stories seem overly crowded with characters that I care little, if anything, about and with murders or situations that are not clearly thought out and do not stand up to close scrutiny. The dynamics has been altered. Same thing happened, in my opinion, to the long-running series New Tricks. Sadly, for me, Midsomer Murders has become just another mediocre cop show. It fills a chunk of time, if I have nothing better to do, or watch.

Perhaps I am no longer in the target audience.

I still like Sykes, the dog. 

I also got a chuckle out of an exchange Barnaby had with his new sergeant. As Nelson was whingeing on and on about the messiness of his new accommodations and housemate Barnaby interrupted saying, “Nelson, you do know that I don’t care?”

Neither did I.


Copyright © 2015 Cherie Jung. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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