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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Midsomer Murders: Bantling Boy starts as DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles)
his wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) & daughter Cully (Laura Howard) take time
out to spend a day at the Causton Race Course where the runners &
riders are preparing to battle it out in the Gold Cup. The horses take
their stalls & the race is run, locally born & trained horse Bantling
Boy beats the favourite to win the Cup. Owned by a Midsomer village
syndicate of Bruce Hartley (Simon Kunz), the wheelchair bound Trevor
Machin (Richard O'Callaghan), local nurse Joanna Craxton (Julia Ford) &
local doctor Osgood (Barnaby Kay) a wealthy businessman named Sam Tate
(Geoffrey Freshwater) offers them £500,000 to sell Bantling Boy, the
syndicate is split down the middle & unless all are in agreement
Bantling Boy cannot be sold. Then that night Bruce who was opposed to
the sale is found dead with his head bashed in, Barnaby & Sgt. Dan
Scott (John Hopkins) are on the case. Was it a simple matter of money
or was the reason behind the murder more sinister...
Episode 4 from season 8 this Midsomer Murders story was directed by Sarah Hellings & I have to admit I rather liked Bantling Boy a fair amount. The script by Steve Trafford has a intriguing central premise of a syndicate who each own a stake in a horse being killed off one-by-one in a murder mystery with plenty of twists & turns which are certainly improbable sure but Midsomer Murders has never really gone for realism has it? I'm willing to bet no-one is going to guess the twist ending here, I like the Midsomer Murders episodes where the eventual motives behind the killings are over-the-top & flamboyant & that's certainly the case here with Bantling Boy. As far as I'm concerned the odder, the stranger, surprising & more bizarre the motive the better! There are some good red-herrings to keep you guessing & the finger of suspicion falls on several character's who could have done it & have a motive so I really do think this one will leave most of you guessing until the end. Barnaby's daughter Cully has a larger than normal in this, there's a steady stream of murders & a well thought out if far fetched plot to become absorbed in. As usual the dialogue is exposition heavy & if you don't pay attention or miss any of it than the ending won't work as well as it should & you'll probably get left behind. There's even a nice deadpan line at the end when Barnaby has a dig at people for considering murder as entertainment!
The production values are of the highest order as usual & certainly better than most stuff made for British TV at the moment, Dorney Court in Dorney in Berkshire was used as Bantling Hall & also appeared in Strangler's Wood (1999) as 'The Fox & Goose Hotel', Gommes Forge & the surrounding cottages in Loosley Row in Buckinghamshire was used as a location while the Causton Race Course was in reality Windsor Race Course in Berkshire. The makers even managed to include a local fund raising medieval jousting reenactment complete with period costumes & the music is great as always. There are four murders in Bantling Boy, while none are particularly graphic there's a bit of blood, the murders take place at night & they are staged in a nice spooky sort of way. The acting is top notch & everyone gives a good performance including a creepy little kid.
Bantling Boy is one of those Midsomer Murders mysteries that I am fond of, the sort where's plenty of dead bodies & a crazy out-of-nowhere motive behind them that you'd never guess. Surely Bantling Boy is one of the better episodes from the eighth season?
The cast of characters diminishes in the most Agatha Christie way as a dysfunctional syndicate which owns a race horse begins to get smaller. The horse, Bantling Boy, has come into its own and now is worth considerable money. The syndicate has a rule that a sale must be unanimous to go ahead. A couple of the people have money problems, other not so much, that they are able to make each other very uncomfortable. Soon the swag is going to be divided among a smaller group. This is a good episode with some great Red Herrings and some strong performances. Barnaby and Scott are both bettors and have a bit of insight into what took place.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is gruesome twist upon gruesome twist in Bantling Boy, and it
happens in the last 20 or so minutes. It involves sexual assault,
illegitimate children, violent computer games, attempted murder of a
boy, and that's before the killer(s) are unveiled. Be prepared, as the
last 20 minutes are dark.
Julia Ford deserves special commendation - she's a beautiful and elegant actress and I wish she was in more Midsomer episodes.
There's one line at the end that is open to much somber interpretation. It's the line from Barnaby "When killing becomes entertainment we all seem to lose touch with reality" in response to Scott wondering how a person can turn murder into a game. I thought this was a sly line from the writers about the Midsomer body count as this episode alone there four murders, and let's be honest, people love Midsomer for the title and the amazing and gleeful methods by which people are bumped off, almost bordering on the entertaining. In fact, some reviewers recoil when the body count is low! I guess that's one interpretation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's the world of horse racing this time for Barnaby and Scott as they
look into the murder of a horse trainer, Bruce Hartley.
One of the horses he was training, Bantling Boy, is owned by a syndicate. They've had a lucrative offer to sell, and a fight ensues as some want to sell him and some do not.
Sadly the murders continue. It falls to Barnaby to figure out how the syndicate obtained ownership in the first place, and if all the members die, who takes over ownership.
As is usual with Midsomer Murders, there's a family secret that needs to be uncovered before the murderer can be revealed.
Very good Midsomer, somewhat violent, with a solid denouement.
Barnaby makes an excellent point as well when he says, "When killing becomes entertainment we all seem to lose touch with reality." It's an interesting statement that has some truth to it. As kids we watched cowboys like crazy, but they are a little different from the violent video games played today, and played in isolation with anonymous people on the Internet.
It's true that we watch things that contain killing, but not because they do: we like the characters, the mystery, the drama. The object is not to destroy.
Thought provoking anyway, about something to which there is no easy answer.
Forget all that and enjoy the episode.
This episode is about a group of people interested in horse racing and
They all own the same horse. Some want to sell the race horse and some don't. The horse starts acting funny so he is removed to a farm that takes care animals for free. He is put there for his safety.
During the process of the story there are many characters, all angry and some hate each other. There is a young boy who is intensely interested in games on the computer. He plays with a man named Jeffrey as his opponent in a medieval game.
A doctor gets murder and several others all in the same way. They are all killed the same way and their mouth is tied with a rag to make a statement to those who find the victims.
This show like many of Midsummer Murder is very violent. Barnaby questions the boy as to why he plays such a violent game and the kid responds that it is only a game.
In the end Sergeant Dan Scott who replaced DSi Troy in Season 7 says to Barnaby that he does not understand how a person can turn murder into a game-- Barnaby replies "When killing becomes entertainment we all seem to lose touch with reality." I think that statement says it all. Many of the so police series like, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and more are series about murder. They are for "entertainment".
Government representatives then wonders why people kill other people. They want to blame the method used like guns. I think, and this is my opinion is that everything can be turned into a murder weapon when gullible people, unhappy people see the results of a murder and how to plan one.
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