If this is Midsomer County, Appellate Judge James A. Stewart really, really wants to avoid Tempest County.
Our reviews of Midsomer Murders: Barnaby's Top 10 (published September 24th, 2011), Midsomer Murders: Set 14 (published February 10th, 2010), Midsomer Murders: Set 15 (published May 19th, 2010), Midsomer Murders: Set 16 (published September 22nd, 2010), Midsomer Murders: Set 17 (published January 27th, 2011), Midsomer Murders: Set 18 (published September 24th, 2011), Midsomer Murders: Set 19 (Blu-ray) (published February 20th, 2012), Midsomer Murders: Set 20 (published May 31st, 2012), and Midsomer Murders: Set 21 (published December 26th, 2012) are also available.
"I have to tell you there is a possibility that your son did not kill
I'm coming in late here—my first exposure to Inspector Barnaby's cases is Midsomer Murders: Set 13—but it has a familiar ring to it. Clues that others overlook put dedicated D.C.I. Tom Barnaby (John Nettles, Bergerac) on the trail of murderers amid the villages and towns of Midsomer County, which is tucked away in some once-rural corner of England that's feeling the pressures of modernity. The stories are based on novels by Caroline Graham. While this is Set 13, the episodes featured here are from Series 10, back in 2006-2007.
Facts of the Case
Midsomer Murders: Set 13 has four movie-length episodes:
• "Dance with the Dead"
• "The Animal Within"
• "King's Crystal"
• "The Axeman Cometh"
From what I've seen here, Inspector Tom Barnaby isn't quite the colorful rascal found in A Touch of Frost, a similar series I've reviewed recently. He's a focused detective who has a quiet, patient manner and winces when he rubs a deceased man's father the wrong way at a crime scene. Barnaby lets loose in "The Axeman Cometh," playing air guitar as he recalls his own days as a musician and blues fan, but John Nettles doesn't get the chance to show off much in a role that tends toward "Just the facts, ma'am." Still, he's not quite a refugee from Law & Order, as the DVD box blurb suggests. There are a few character bits as Barnaby deals with the sarcasm of his daughter Cully (Laura Howard, Soldier, Soldier), an aspiring actress, and D.I. Ben Jones (Jason Hughes, Killing Me Softly), his young partner.
What seems to have kept viewers tuned in for all those years is the portrait of rural life. Midsomer is a place where Barnaby can get an important bit of information by hanging out in the pub or attending a local dance. He could also ask his wife (Jane Wymark, Poldark), who seems in tune with the local gossip. The writers and actors take the time to flesh out the many characters who wander through, making each episode as much the story of a visitor from Philadelphia, a grieving son, or a musician as a story about Inspector Barnaby. Midsomer Murders also has some interesting mysteries, although I was getting a little tired of the show's standard plot gimmick, the second murder that reveals clues to the first.
Shot in widescreen, Midsomer Murders looks and sounds good. Establishing shots tend to add a little bit to the character of the area and the mood as they look in on a deserted airfield, a wedding, or a music festival. While there's some interesting scenery, it's never shown simply for the pretty pictures.
There aren't any major extras, but there are text bios on the stars, the author, and key guest stars.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's not bad, but ask yourself if you need to get hooked on one more British police procedural.
The odd release schedule is as much of a puzzle as the stories. Why can't Acorn Media do a whole season set instead of stretching things out?
Inspector Barnaby has been quietly on the case since 1997, and there's no reason to expect he'll retire anytime soon. While John Nettles doesn't steal the show in any way, that could make it a safer bet, since the show doesn't live or die by how much you like his character. If you're looking for a good mystery, it's worth a look; it's simply a well-written show.
As you might have figured out if you'd been hanging out at the pub, not guilty.
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