'Midsomer Murders, Set 23'
(Neil Dudgeon, Jason Hughes, James Callis, Kerry Fox, Paul Ritter, Sinéad Cusack, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2014 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars Neil Dudgeon (Life of Riley) as the capable Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones.
DVD Verdict: In the first of the three episodes, ‘The Dark Rider,’ the best of the bunch for my money (and actually Season 15, Episode 1 back in the UK), the myth of a ghostly headless horseman comes to the fore as one of the Patriarch’s of the estate-wealthy family falls to his death one wet, windy night having witnessed the ghostly image for himself! Played out as if it were all on stage, and come the finale very Poirot-esque of a reveal, for sure, ‘The Dark Rider’ is a LOT of fun to watch. Seemingly an inbred family of “royals,” who literally sit around their dining table whilst the paying hordes come to visit their stately home, you can well guess the main culprit - but you’ll NEVER guess the secondary one!
In ‘Murder of Innocence,’ a (supposed) child killer is put away in 1994 and is now released and back in the sleepy hamlet town where he once resided. Hated by the locals, who all still live there, and all still remember what he did to the young boy, he is hounded at every turn. But when a QC (Judge) that presided over his case back then is found dead in his own home and a “Hit List” of who this man said he would kill upon his release is made known; and people DO start dying off of it, the police have to find out what is going on ASAP. Especially given that DC Jones’ name is on it also! Oh, and this episode, unlike most others from the series provides one of the BEST twists I’ve ever witnessed on the show!
In the final episode, which is actually Season 15 Episode 4 in the UK (so they skipped over episode 3 for some reason), ‘Death and The Divas,’ a local man puts on his first Horror Film Festival devoted to the small villages very own horror scream queen actress still residing there. But at the event her Hollywood actress sister unexpectedly arrives and steals the limelight away from her night in a heartbeat. A nice tale of old horror movies, old grudges and highly inventive deaths, this last one in the three-disc set really brings the collection to a nice; if not gory close! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:77.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Audio commentary for 'The Dark Rider' with star Neil Dudgeon and director Alex Pillai
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette for 'Death and the Divas'
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk