Long Live Midsomer Murders.
Long Live Midsomer Murders.
Episode 2 from season 11 (even though they are not being shown in the correct order here in the UK anymore so I'm not sure why the IMDb thinks this is episode 2 when episode 1 Blood Wedding (2007) hasn't even aired) this Midsomer Murders mystery was directed by Richard Holthouse & one has to say Shot at Dawn is the poorest Midsomer Murders episode I have seen in a long time & is not a good way to kick off a new season & indeed a new year (it aired on 1st January) of Midsomer Murders. The script by Michael Aitkens is really sluggish & slow, it's forty minutes before Henry is killed. That's forty minutes of really dull, bland & boring exposition most of which amounts to absolutely zero. Then there's the poor character's whom are very forgettable, everyone seems to be having an affair while everyone just seems to hate everyone else. The actual murder mystery plot feels very tired, I mean two feuding families & one of their number gets killed off? Sounds familiar right? It's just all so lacklustre & the plot revolves around the petty bickering & affairs between the Hammonds & the Hicks rather than a good solid murder mystery which surely should be it's priority, right? Most of it feel like padding as much of the exposition really does amount to nothing in the end & making the only likable character in the whole program the killer doesn't exactly help the ending either. I'm not happy about some of the silly comedy moments that are starting to creep into Midsomer Murders either, the silly scene in the pub as the two wheelchair bound men have a jousting contest with long sticks of bread is just embarrassing & not something that I think belongs in a serious crime drama. Then there's the scene when the killer uses a remote controlled combine harvester to try & kill someone! I'm not being funny but to rig a combine harvester up to be able to operate it by remote control including the steering would take £1000's of sophisticated electronics, motors & god know's what else. I don't think I've ever seen another Midsomer Murders where Barnaby's sidekick is given so little to do, in fact the Sgt. Jones character could have not been there at all & Barnaby wouldn't have missed him.
Even though the story sucks here it's still a wonderfully made production, it's well made as usual with nice cinematography & a selection of picturesque English Countryside locations. Is Shot at Dawn the first Midsomer Murders episode to feature full frontal explicit female nudity? Maybe it's the first one to feature a Hollywood style exploding car? There are only two murders in this one including someone getting repeatedly shot. The acting is good except the comedy relief fat wife of the Mayor who is awful while respected actor's like Donald Sinden & George Cole deserve better than this second rate script.
Shot at Dawn is a poor way to start season eleven, I'm sorry but I just thought it was one of the poorest episodes of Midsomer Murders I can ever remember seeing. It's slow, often too silly & large amounts of it are pointless. A big disappointment & hopefully not typical of how season eleven will be.
I think that this was an unmade storyline from the series "Pie In The Sky", which aired on TV in the UK over 10 years previous to when this episode was recorded. It would have been just credible in 1997 for George Cole's character to be up to his WW2 sabotage tricks - it was obviously nonsense in 2007.
The way Barnaby treats Jones is very similar to the way Insp. Henry Crabbe treats his various sergeants in "Pie In The Sky". The Barnabys' daughter Cully does not appear in this episode - Crabbe and his wife, Margaret, did not have children.
The whole characterisation of Tom Barnaby is markedly different from normal - in the pub "fight" scene, Barnaby displays a degree of middle-middle class food snobbery which you might expect from part-time restaurateur Henry Crabbe, less so from full-time copper Tom Barnaby. Richard Griffiths (RIP) played Henry Crabbe as a "crabby" character, but with a lightness of touch and a degree of sly humour which John Nettles did not bother to bring to this re-characterisation of Tom Barnaby.
Even the leaking kitchen roof scene echoes similar scenes of leaking pipes in the restaurant kitchen in "Pie In The Sky". I could go on, but if you have read this far you are probably having trouble staying awake.
By the way, the "combine-harvester" which some reviewers mention was actually a tractor pulling a straw-baler - it doesn't make any difference to the plot, of course.
Then of course, since there is a feud, there must also be a romance...or two... between characters from the two families. No surprise there. What IS surprising is the relatively explicit nudity, which has not been a regular part of MM in the past.
But overall, the characters are even more two-dimensional than usual, and there's not much suspense in the unraveling of the murder. And as others have pointed out, there are difficulties with the logistics of the electrical "gizmos" used to bump off the victims. Not one of the best, but it was fun to see George Cole and Samantha Bond, two of my favorites.
We found this particular episode the best next to Midsomer Rhapsody. Now we didn't mind there wasn't a murder right away as we were interested in the story. This particular episode had more interesting & entertaining dialogue than most. The characters were well played & well suited to their parts. We enjoyed the interaction of each & found the humour outstanding & truly made the show. I even think the actors enjoyed themselves in their parts or at least seemed to.
Well, as my hubby says each to their own taste, but, I'm a bit surprised at the some of the comments of others who deride this most entertaining & different style of Midsomer Murders.
The show is still popular and new episodes are being produced, which is great. However I do hope to see better plots and murders that occur sooner in the story. Murders introduced slowly does not engage Barnaby soon enough. He needs to be brought into the show early. He's very easy to watch.