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This shows tongue is so far into its cheek it's a wonder there's not
been a serious rupture!
From the outset back in 1997 there has never been a moment that we were meant to take too seriously - but we do! Every time a new feature length episode is announced we sit, gripped, for 2hrs stifling chuckles not because it's "so bad it's good" but because it's "so good it's wicked!".
It has inspired letters to The Times newspaper ("Joyce Barnaby - Britain's most elusive serial killer?") and made those of us that live in chocolate box villages feel like locking our back doors at night (just in case).
"Midsomer Murders" is a gleeful repost to the plethora of "gritty" and "realistic" crime shows. Long may the death toll rise....
The cases of Chief Inspector Barnaby, a respectable middle-aged family
man and a good old fashioned copper and his young sergeant Gavin Troy
who is rather touchy and immature and is always jumping to conclusions
during investigations. All of the duo's cases take place in the
picturesque yet fictional county of Midsomer which must have the
highest death rate anywhere in the world!
This highly popular detective series was first aired on 23 March 1997 when the pilot episode "The Killings At Badgers Drift" was transmitted. ITV announced it as a one off film but it was very successful with figures in the region of 13.5 million viewers, and the film won the Best Drama Award that year. The film was based on the 1987 novel by Caroline Graham which was regarded by the Crime Writers' Association as being one of the Top 100 crime novels of all time. The initial series which followed was based on Graham's other four Inspector Barnaby novels, these were "Written In Blood", "Death Of A Hollow Man", "Death In Disguise" and "Faithful Unto Death". Having filmed the majority of Graham's novels featuring Barnaby (A Place Of Safety & Ghost In The Machine have not been filmed as yet) the producers turned to other writers to provide new stories for the subsequent five series. These have included contributions from prolific and accomplished writers such as Anthony Horowitz ("Agatha Christie's Poirot"), Douglas Watkinson ("The Professionals", "Boon", "Emmerdale") and Christopher Russell ("The Bill", "Cadfael"). In the past six years since it made its debut on British television there has been nearly thirty episodes and there is no hint of the series finishing yet. The series is notable in that it has brought John Nettles back to prime time TV after the "Bergerac" series finished in 1993. In this series he played Sergeant Bergerac, a Jersey copper fighting alcoholism and has had uncomfortable relationships with several girlfriends, a role far removed from that of Inspector Barnaby.
The first episode of the seventh series entitled "The Green Man" was aired on 2 November 2003. Daniel Casey who plays Sergeant Troy has left the series. The character has been promoted to Inspector and is leaving Midsomer to take up a position in Newcastle. John Nettles will have a new sidekick in John Hopkins as Sergeant Scott who will be introduced when the remainder of the series is broadcast in January 2004.
"Midsomer Murders" is a wonderful series, although like many long running series, it has occasionally fallen below it's own standard in that the ideas for new plots sometimes becomes strained after so many episodes. The characters are rich and well realised by first class actors and it gets full mileage out of it's rural setting. Guest stars have included Alan Howard (the nephew of Leslie Howard) and Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny in all the James Bond films since "Goldeneye"). The quality of this series to my mind is that it should make it to the big screen someday. There would be no need to change anything as all the ingredients for a good cinema feature are there already. These days most of the quality stuff is on the small screen and a lot of mediocre stuff is lumbered on our picture houses.
It has been announced that John Nettles will be quitting the show after playing Inspector Barnaby for twelve-years since the show made its debut. However, he will still be seen in it until 2011 and it looks very much like the show will still continue very much in the manner of other TV shows such as Taggart and McCallam, which carried on without their title characters.
This series is TV at it's best. The plots are full of twists and turns, none of the predictable formula plots of the American hour long dramas. The attention to detail is extraordinary, from the costumes, the cottage interiors to the whiskers on a character's face. One of the pleasures of watching a British drama, such as this one, is the quality of the acting. The actors are not chosen for their flawless white smiles or their silicon enhanced bodies but for their acting talents. The scenery and the quaint English villages are idyllic but underneath the seven deadly sins fester. The viewer can enjoy piecing together the clues to uncover the main villain but it is also fun to guess who is going to be the next victim. It is one of the few TV offerings that my husband and I can watch and enjoy together.
The series is set in idyllic English countryside with beautiful villages and archetypical inhabitants. It's fun to watch as Barnaby and Troy are amusing, the stories are fairly good and they are a pleasant break from the hard and gripping detective shows that leave a nasty taste in the mouth. The stories are not demanding, police procedure is appalling, we all know England is not like this, but if you want an enjoyable show with a detective story, I recommend it.
John Nettles plays the perfect detective as Chief Inspector Barnaby in
Midsomer Murders, unlike so many other British Dicks he doesn't have a
problem with the bottle, family hassles at home, nor is he unhappily
single and suffering manic depression. Not only that his diction is
near perfect and he has the stiff upper lip so necessary in rural
England when murders are more common than haystacks. Teamed up with a
new sidekick DC Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) resembling the much put upon
Sgt. Lewis of Inspector Morse fame.
The series also has the advantage of using some of the best character actors available, for example Simon Callow, and reasonably well written plots that hold interest. Although usually a number of people get dispatched before our Barnaby can nab the culprit he gets his man in the end. But that's life in the villages. Better than average production values and consistency of performance by the main cast members keeps this show top of the list. A pleasant change from the plethora of cheesy forensic investigations headed up by gorgeous female doctors brandishing scalpels over deceased body parts.
Being addicted to British mysteries, I was delighted to discover this series last year. Since then there have been about a half dozen episodes shown on A&E here in the USA. I like them so much I mentioned them to a friend in Cornwall, UK, who had not discovered them yet. Got an email from her saying that her family looks forward to watching them from now on. This series is low key with no scenes depicting sex and no 4-letter words. I hope A&E contracts to show the whole series. I shall be watching for them.
At about the third episode, I realized that at least three murders had
to be committed before Barnaby and Troy got the killer. The more I
watched, it seemed that the entire series is really a subtle spoof of
the English detective mystery genre, that is Country English. The
series captures the beautiful countryside, these lovely villages, the
wellington boots, the country architecture and interior decor, all to
perfection. And underneath it all seethes the violence, greed, sexual
anomalies and jealousy of a country village. Reality in rural England
has got to be much different, I hope. The murder rate is astronomical
in this Midsomer part of England! And poor Barnaby and Troy. They plod
along until the killer just about leaps into their hands. I thoroughly
enjoy it all and have my chuckles throughout the episode. The local
library recently purchased 10 episodes. I still have one to watch.
Margaret, an avowed Anglophile
I discovered the "Midsomer Murders" 2 years ago. In Argentina they are shown on Hallmark Channel, and in this case I don't mind their repetitive programming, because I've become so totally addicted to the episodes that I watch them every time they are on, twice , four, five times....(middle age is creeping up on me, so sometimes I tend to forget who dunit) Wonderful entertainment, great actors down to the smallest role (remember Phyllida Law and John Nettles getting high on pot cookies??? Hilarious!!!) - which goes to show that the British are unsurpassed in the art of solid ,tasteful and funny TV crime fare. I hope we get new episodes like the ones last year and that Hallmark keeps showing them, like other British crime series, too. Malke Schmiedeberg
Somehow I feel and that is why I like this series so much, the plots
are not dissimilar to Miss Marple,(Agatha Christie) although set in a
different time line. The red herrings, twists and turns, etc. village
and English country life.
I love the series one of my favorites. John Nettles plays an excellent county Chief Inspector, very laid back, but sharp as a needle. More what I would expect of a country policeman in reality. They don't badger probable witnesses, like the American cops do, they are polite (yet in control at all times) and don't put people on their mettle. Then if someone does get obnoxious, defensive or arrogant back, then there might be a good reason one begins to think?
Wonderful advertisement for southern England and the British CID. (Whereas the Bill has become a soapy, in my opinion, and their employment strategies for the Met seems to allow too many nut cases being selected.)
I am not sure were the series is filmed, but the countryside seems to indicate it is from Southern counties, or even the Cotswolds. Could be anywhere, but I have the feeling it is around Somerset or Hampshire.
I have just viewed Killings at Badgers Drift and Written in Blood.(Possibly my only minor critical comment is the last scenes of Badger's had shades of 'Psycho' in it?)
The first two episodes, and I felt they were brilliant. Yet the following episodes I have seen so far as slightly less dramatic and equally probable, but still top class. The production overall, sound effects, cinematography, and acting is very superior, as well as editing and direction. I would rarely give a series rating as 10 but this must be my favorite TV series of all time for originality and performance.
Hope many more to come.
I have watched some four to five episodes of Midsomer Murders recently and I am looking forward to watch more of those.I really enjoyed the way the story was moving.The Characters of Tom Barnaby and Seargent Troy were amazing.Midsomer takes the viewers to the old England.Those village sceneries were really splendid.I really wonder whether those villages still exist in England as most parts of England had been urbanized.John Nettles has done his part well according to the character.And so is Daniel Casey.I am very much eager to watch the other stories of Midsomer Murders as well.One Important thing which i really liked the most and because of which i was able to sit and watch the whole movie without changing the movie channel is that there were only few scenes that depicts vulgarity in the movie.I really Appreciate the person who has taken it in this manner and has given life to the Midsomer series. And last but not the least One cannot forget the tile Music.It is an everlasting one.
Finally My Heartiest Compliments for all those actors who have made this really an interesting one to watch.
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