When Emilyn Simpson is found dead in her house, DCI Barnaby's instincts all lead him to suspect murder. Although she was elderly and everyone seems to have liked her, it seem she may have seen something in the woods that she shouldn't have. There are numerous suspects: the local doctor who lies about his alibi, Iris Rainbird, the local busybody who seems to live beyond her means or her son Dennis, who is the local undertaker. Barnaby also receives information that a death the previous year may not have been an accident. When two other residents of Badger's Drift are murdered, Barnaby uncovers an illicit love affair that the protagonists must keep secret. Written by
the first episode of this 16-year-old series (and counting)
Hard to believe, but after 16 years, Midsomer Murders is still in production, now with a new star, Neil Dudgeon, who plays the original Inspector Barnaby's cousin. John Nettles left the show in 2011, at the age of 68, and appears to have retired, as has his character.
"The Killing at Badger's Drift," from 1997, was a good start to the series - a good, dark story that introduces the audience to Barnaby and his assistant at that time, Sgt Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey).
When an elderly woman is found dead in her home, it looks like it could have been an accident. On further investigation, though, it seems as though she was murdered. She had called a helpline after returning from a sojourn in the woods, where she was looking for a particular orchid, and then she made a call that wasn't completed. Her neighbor believes she was murdered because she didn't padlock or bicycle, and she slammed her door, which she never did. The helpline operator is unable to tell Barnaby and Troy much, except that the woman was upset and said, "Just like poor Annabella." Who is Annabella? They don't know.
Two other murders follow, and soon the case involves not only murder but blackmail, false alibis, a previous accident that perhaps wasn't one, a confession, and something else extremely unpalatable and unexpected.
In this episode, we're also introduced to Barnaby's wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) and his daughter, aspiring actress Cully (Laura Howard).
Daniel Casey left the series in 2003, but shows up for Cully's wedding in 2008. I've always had a soft spot for him, maybe because he was Barnaby's first partner.
I love this series, and this was a great beginning.
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