'Midsomer Murders, Set 19'
(John Nettles, Jason Hughes, et al / 4-Disc / Not Rated / (2010) 2012 / Acorn Media)
Overview: The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars John Nettles (Bergerac) as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (This Life) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones.
DVD Verdict: As always, I am bewildered that these four (4) episodes are scattered onto four (4) different discs. For, as we all know, you can easily get two (2) per disc, if not more. That said, I guess releasing only three (3) or four (4) episodes of this hit UK TV show at a time would make the box-sets look very thin, if Acorn did indeed follow that abovementioned thought of a rule!
So, after that mindless ramble, let's investigate these episodes of Set 19, shall we. First up is 'The Made-to-Measure Murders.' Originally broadcast in the UK as Episode 2 from Season 13, a tailor suffers a heart attack and dies while gardening in the village of Milton Cross. He leaves behind his wife Sonia (Maureen Beattie) and son Luke (Karl Davies) who inherit the family shop. Moving forward two years to the second anniversary of his death and his wife may well still be grieving, but his son (and others) begin to suspect there may be something else behind her tears. In all honesty, I am a HUGE fan of Midsomer Murders, but from this set this is the weakest of the episodes.
Oh, fun fact, did you know that the solo instrument that produces the melody in the title music is a Theremin. It was invented by Russian scientist Leon Theremin and was first demonstrated in 1920! Come on now, that's info worth knowing, isn't it?!
OK, moving along and up next is 'The Sword of Guillaume,' a tale that actually spins it murderous web withing the home town of our great leader, DCI Barnaby! A rare on-his-doorstep episode indeed, it slowly (and trust me, I mean slowly, as nobody dies for 40 minutes!) gets revealed that Causton is actually corrupt at the highest level! Who knew, I know! Basically, Barnaby is suspicious of the mayor's motives when he proposes buying a bit of land near Brighton (for holiday houses), but when that falls through a bunch of happy council people go on a trip to Brighton to celebrate. But, sadly, someone loses their head amongst all the celebrations - quite literally!
The third episode, 'Blood On The Saddle,' opens with a lone horseman entering a peaceful English village. He hitches his horse to a bench before entering a cottage. A shot rings out. Then a woman runs into the street screaming "Murder!" (and she actually means it!) And so with DCI Barnaby at a local Wild West show with his very patient, loving wife Joyce, he quickly gets his feet under the investigative carpet - and discovers that the victim was a woman who was having an affair with one of the participants in the very show he had just been watching! Having been shot with a sniper rifle from quite a distance away, it's up to our crime fighting duo to put the dusty pieces together. I love in this episode when Jones says something relatively "horsey" to Barnaby re: the murder, and all Barnaby does is turn to Jones, tilt his head, and say, "Really Jones, ... really?"
Another interesting fact that struck me whilst watching these episodes, and having cast my mind back to most-all the otehr ones too, is something that producer Brian True-May was quoted as saying about Midsomer Murders: "We don't have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn't be the English village with them!" Well, I have to say that it is really a pale complexion of a landscape here that had never crossed my mind before this abovementioned episode, in truth, Is he right? I don't think so, but wow, what a statement to make!
In the final episode, 'The Silent Land,' Joyce is driving home with Cully when she crashes the car trying to avoid someone in the road. Tangential to this, at a nearby cemetery Jeff Bowmaker (Danny Webb) is leading a 'Ghost Walk', during which one of his group thinks she saw something strange in the bushes. Wouldn't you believe it, but come the morning a body is found in the cemetery! And, of course, Joyce then fears that she hit him the night before! I love a man with great one-liners, and Webb was great as the 'crypt keeper,' Bowmaker. When someone keeps sneezing he quickly fires back, "You should do something about that cold ... like die!" Oh, and this episode also brings us the first introduction of who is soon to be taking over Barnaby's retiring PC shoes - his very own younger cousin!
The guest stars for this 'Midsomer Murders, Set 19' series include James Wilby, Saskia Reeves, Janet Suzman, Kenneth Cranham, Tim McInnerny, David Rintoul, and (as mentioned above) Neil Dudgeon - in his first appearance as DCI John Barnaby - the man who has now taken over for the retired (in the series and in real life) DCI Barnaby, John Nettles! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of a Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery for 'Blood on the Saddle.'