When heirs of the aristocratic Smythe-Webster family are killed, Barnaby's investigation uncovers long-hidden family secrets.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Daniel Casey ...
Jane Wymark ...
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Rupert Smythe-Webster
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Wendy Smythe-Webster
Christopher Good ...
Simon Smythe-Webster
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Laura Smythe-Webster
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Frank Webster
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Darren
Jo Stone-Fewings ...
Danny Pinchel
Tim Preece ...
Jack Wilson
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Sarah Proudie
Alex Lowe ...
Phil Harrison
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Larry Smith
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Storyline

The villages of Upper and Lower Warden have been feuding since the days of Cromwell and the Civil War, but now the feud has taken a deadly turn. Larry Smith, the star of a horror film titled The House of Satan, based on events centuries ago, is murdered. Smith is the son of the preeminent local family, the Smythe-Websters. His father is the local vicar, his uncle is the lord of the manor and another uncle is the producer of the movie. Some residents of Lower Warden object to the fact that an important piece of local history has been turned into a cheap horror film. Is this enough to kill or is it that there are dark secrets that offer a more serious explanation? When a second member of the Smythe-Websters is killed, Barnaby believes in the latter and looks into the family history to find the solution. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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24 January 2003 (UK)  »

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Trivia

French title: La maison de Satan. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Rupert Smythe-Webster: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Welcome to the opening ceremony of the Ellis Bell Satanic Experience. Now, 120 years ago to this very day, a young man named Ellis Bell walked out of that house, along that footpath and into that summerhouse. There he wrote a book that would put our much-loved village of Upper Warden on the map. The book was called "The House of Satan", now, as we all know, a major movie.
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References The Prisoner (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The best episode of Season 6
16 January 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Despite not being anywhere near as good now, 'Midsomer Murders' is still a show visited and re-visited with great pleasure. There are episodes better than others, with a fair share of disappointments especially in the later seasons, like with any show in existence, but when 'Midsomer Murders' was good it was good to outstanding.

"A Talent for Life" was a good, if not quite great, start to Season 6, followed by a decent "Death and Dreams" that sadly also got bogged down in instances of ridiculousness. The previous episode "Painted in Blood" was a departure, less grim and low-in-body-count, but nonetheless a good one.

The best of the sixth season to me is "A Tale of Two Hamlets". Not quite a 'Midsomer Murders' "elite" episode, being not by all means "action-packed" (which may test some people's patience) and with a slight lack of "iconic" scenes. But it sure does come close, and it is a great episode.

As always, the production values are top notch, with to die for scenery, the idyllic look of it contrasting very well with the story's occasional grimness, and quaint and atmospheric photography. The music fits perfectly, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre.

Meanwhile, the script is smart and thought-provoking with some nice quirky humour, a suitable grimness and colourful characters. Nothing felt inconsequential, everything had a point, everything intrigued and any loose ends were tied together nicely.

The story is hugely compelling, and never simplistic and never losing any of the maturity of most of the previous episodes. There is a lot going on mostly without being cluttered or rushed (remarkable for an episode that as ever is heavy in exposition), and that nothing is what it seems (didn't see the ending coming this time or the murderer's identity or motive), or very few people are who they seem adds to the complexity, while there are no out of kilter scenes. The twists, red herrings and turns, in classic 'Midsomer Murders' tradition, keep coming, and rarely in an obvious or press-the-rewind button. The characters are colourful, eccentric and not what they seem.

John Nettles as always is a joy as Barnaby, with Daniel Casey contrasting with him with ease, their chemistry as always a huge part of the episode's charm. Everybody else does a fine job too with no obvious weak links.

In conclusion, a great episode and the best of the season. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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