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"Midsomer Murders" Left for Dead (2008)

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

"Behind a lacklustre title lies a great episode."

Author: jamesraeburn2003 from Poole, Dorset
31 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

DCI Barnaby and DS Jones are called in to investigate the suspicious deaths of Ron and Libby Wilson, a reclusive couple, whom have been found dead at their home in the Midsomer village of Dunstan. The detectives learn that there is tension in the village between the villagers and a local builder called Jack Purdy (Matthew Flynn) over the construction of a bypass in the area. It transpires that twenty-years ago Ron and Libby's young son, Michael, was knocked down and killed by a car driven by Purdy's father who subsequently committed suicide. In addition, one of the road protesters, Alyssa Bradley's eleven-year-old son, Patrick, went missing a year later. Purdey's brother, Mark (Shaun Dooley), is getting married to his childhood sweetheart, Louise (Kate Miles), but further tragedy strikes when Jack is found stabbed to death in his car on the stag night. Barnaby and Jones know that he was not a popular man not simply because of the bypass construction but he had a reputation as a bully and a cheat. Incidentally, Jones is an old friend of Mark Purdy as they were at school together along with the latter's wife-to-be and their friend Charlotte Knight (Indra Ove), the local photographer. The deceased's widow, Stacey Purdey, is heard to say that Jack once said that if anybody was going to kill him then it would be Mark, Louise and Charlotte and she talks of a "secret society" they had as children. The three are uneasy and clearly have something to hide and Alyssa Bradley blames them for the disappearance of her beloved son. Another murder follows and Barnaby and Jones need the answers to several questions before they can finally bring the killer to book. Are the murders concerned solely with the bypass protesters or is it due to events from two decades ago?

Do not be put off by the lacklustre title as Left For Dead is one of the stronger Midsomer entries in this season. It has a gripping plot and a completely unexpected twist at the end, which is quite terrifying and moving in equal measure. It is all neatly held together by the tight direction of Renny Rye who directed several of the early episodes from another ITV hit detective show, Agatha Christie's Poirot. And with new directors coming into the fold who better than Mr Rye whom has had considerable experience in this genre? Acting is good throughout which as anyone who has followed Rye's previous work would expect especially from the child actors Danny Harfield, Joseph Scatley, Louisa Connolly-Burnham, Jade Gould and Alfie Adams who play the younger versions of some of the adult characters in the flashback sequences at the denouement. Praise must also go to Harry Peacock who offers a sympathetic portrayal of a tragic character. I will not say which part that is however since if I do it will spoil the ending for those who have not yet seen the film. John Nettles is his usual impressive self as Barnaby and Jason Hughes is good as his latest sidekick DS Jones. He has a little more to do this time around since he is acquainted with many of the people connected to the investigation since they are his old school friends.

Overall, despite a title that doesn't promise much - I did not see this when it was first aired and had to wait for the DVD and I must confess that when I first picked up the cover and saw the title I had my doubts - but it emerges as a gripping, well acted and directed addition to the series. Very satisfying indeed!

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

another entry in the long-running series

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
5 June 2013

In "Left for Dead," DS Jones is back among his childhood friends as he and Barnaby investigate the strange death of an elderly couple. The place has been trashed, yet silver was left behind. The man looks as if he was pushed down the stairs, but the woman doesn't have a mark on her. It turns out she died of a pulmonary embolism, probably brought on by trauma.

The town is going through a lot of chaos, as protesters are trying to stop a bypass which will destroy a home. The entrepreneur behind the bypass is Jack Purdy (Matthew Flynn) who is seen as a bully. His brother, Mark (Shaun Dooley) is about to be married to Louise (Kate Miles). But another murder will delay the honeymoon.

Barnaby suspects that the current murders are tied to the death and disappearance of two boys years ago, within a week of each other. One was the Michael, the son of the dead couple, who died in an auto accident, and the other, a young boy named Patrick Bradley, who disappeared. His mother (Marion Bailey) is sure that the last people to see him alive - the Purdy brothers, Louise, and some others, all of whom were young kids, know what happened to her son.

This is an intriguing story but I do have to admit that it sort of falls apart at the end and indeed, turns into a horror movie. It could have been written a little better.

However, it will certainly keep your interest.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Two thrids great, one third pants.

6/10
Author: Paul Andrews (poolandrews@hotmail.com) from UK
24 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Midsomer Murders: Left for Dead starts in the small Midsomer village of Dunstan where local campaigner Lynne Fox (Maggie Steed) is going door to door asking local residents to sign her petition opposing the demolishing of a nearby cottage & the building of a motorway bypass in it's place. Lynne knocks on the door of Ron (Albert Welling) & Libby Wilson, after no-one answers the door she peers in through the window & sees Ron lying dead at the foot of his stairs. The police are called & Libby is also found dead int he house, with a possible double murder DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) & DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) begin to investigate. Living like recluses for the past twenty years ever since their young son Michael was killed Barnaby & Jones are finding it difficult to come up with any suspects let alone a motive. Then a day or so later hated local businessman Jack Purdy (Matthew Flynn) is found stabbed to death, baffled Barnaby feels everything seems to point back to Michael's death twenty years ago...

Episode 4 from season 11 (not episode 3 as the IMDb would have you believe) this Midsomer Murders mystery was directed by Renny Rye & the first two thirds of Left for Dead are excellent while unfortunately the last third is really poor & pretty much ruins the episode. The script by Michael Crompton actually reminded of the earlier Midsomer Murders episodes where some dark secret or terrible tragedy from the past becomes a motive for vengeful murder during the present, I loved those older episode which were full of eccentric character's, bizarre motives & great murders & for a while Left for Dead felt very much like one of those as it becomes clear the whole murder mystery is linked to the seemingly unconnected death of a young boy twenty years prior & then the mysterious disappearance of a young boy a year after that as dark secrets rear their ugly head. There's a great pace about this one, there's two dead bodies found before the opening credits, then another murder before the twenty minute mark after that there's more murder, attempted murder & a subplot about environmentalists protesting against the building of a motorway bypass which is actually quite a hot topic here in the UK at the moment as a lot of our natural woods & fields come under threat from the bulldozers. Unfortunately as I have said the final third ruins everything with a completely ridiculous twist ending which feels like it came from some cheap 70's British horror film like The Beast in the Cellar (1970), in fact a Midsomer Murders remake of The Beast in the Cellar is quite a good description of Left for Dead! Why the did the killer remember certain things like who held his head under water & the death of Michael twenty odd years ago yet he couldn't even remember his own name? It just didn't feel right, it felt off & silly & if I am honest a little bit ridiculous. Such a shame since the episode was going so well to that point.

Rather oddly a fair amount of Left for Dead revolves around a wedding which I say is odd because Left for Dead is now the second episode of the eleventh season to feature a wedding & since Blood Wedding (2008) actually had two weddings in it Left for Dead features the third prominent wedding storyline of the season after only a handful during the previous ten seasons. Maybe that's why they switched Midsomer Life (2008) & Left for Dead around as the company didn't want to air Left for Dead which features a wedding so soon after Blood Wedding which features two weddings! This episode looks nice enough as usual but it's not the best looking one ever, the locations do seem a little bit forgettable & bland. There are two murders, both stabbing & both off screen although there are another two death's as well. The acting is alright but the guy who plays the deformed killer at the end is terrible, I am sorry but I just thought he came across as rather embarrassing & thus helped ruin the episode as a whole although the poor script didn't help any either.

Left for Dead was excellent for a hour or so & reminded me of the earlier episodes but then it all falls apart with a twist ending that doesn't make a whole lot of logical sense, feels like the rejected twist ending to a cheap horror film & ruins the excellent build up & mystery elements of the episode to that point. This could have been brilliant, as it is it's no more than average.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Creepiest Midsomer I've Seen

6/10
Author: eric-839 from United States
9 May 2016

We've been watching "Midsomer Murders" in reruns on various PBS stations, so it's a random selection, mainly from the earlier seasons. We've come to really enjoy the humanity and good humor of the lead characters, and usually the stories are both intriguing and fun.

"Left for Dead" was well done as usual, but easily the creepiest and most unsettling of those we've seen. As others have pointed out, it ends up going in a kind of cheap "horror film" direction at the end, but at the same time was both harrowing and rather sad. Suspenseful, yes, but not much fun. Guess I prefer the ones where people just act like idiots and get caught!

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Least favorite of all the Midsomer episodes

5/10
Author: bluegirl76 from United States
22 August 2016

Being an American, I didn't see any of the Midsomer Murders when they originally were shown, but I discovered them on Netflix and have watched them all, in order, and I love them. Excellently written and acted, and the quirky villagers you encounter all the way have totally charmed me. Having said all that, this episode has to be the one I have enjoyed the least. It began much as the others have, setting up the scene in a small village, but it quickly began to bore me, and by the time it reached the final 30 minutes I was just anxious for it to be over with. Those final minutes went quickly from amiable small town murder to very nearly a horror film, and frankly, I am not a fan of horror films. On top of that, there were questions left unanswered, and characters who weren't satisfactorily wrapped up for me. I have to say I was disappointed.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not a bad episode at all but really badly let down by the ending

6/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
12 February 2017

As has been said by me a number of times, 'Midsomer Murders' is one of my most watched and most re-watched shows. It is nowhere near as good now and the Tom Barnaby-era wasn't alien to average or less episodes, but when it was on form or at its best boy was it good.

"Shot at Dawn" was a poor start to Season 11 and a failure in all but three or four departments. "Blood Wedding" was great and a massive improvement, let down only by the flimsy and old-fashioned motive of the killer and one gratuitous scene involving a rabbit. "Left for Dead" is not a bad episode but is a frustrating one, an episode with so much promise and mostly pretty good until being ruined significantly by a component terribly done.

"Left for Dead" has many great assets. The production values as always are just great, the idyllic look of it contrasting very well with the story's grimness, and quaint and atmospheric photography. The music fits perfectly, with some lush jauntiness and sometimes an ominous quality, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre.

There are some thoughtful and humorous moments in the script, which is generally well structured and crafted, and the supporting characters are entertaining enough. The story is very compelling mostly, very easy to follow and much of it is actually one of the show's creepiest (one of the murders really giving me goose-bumps). More red herrings, clues and twists and turns than with some of the previous episodes, and the characters are back to the colourfully eccentric ones.

John Nettles and Jason Hughes are both superb, individually and together (their chemistry, and the chemistry with Daniel Casey and John Hopkins before Hughes, being a huge part of their episodes' charm). Can't fault a vast majority of the supporting cast either.

Conversely, "Left for Dead" is let down significantly by one of the worst executed endings in the whole of 'Midsomer Murders', so bad that more than one star had to be deducted from my final rating. It is truly ridiculous and contrived, and not only is not worthy of 'Midsomer Murders' it also feels out of place within the show. The cheap horror film comment is quite apt, would go further to say actually that even cheap horror films may reject this ending.

Harry Peacock is embarrassingly bad, evoking no feelings of any kind for his character from the viewer and instead of menacing or sympathetic he merely comes over as both dull and annoying. While most of the episode is well paced and absorbing, there is the odd bit of sluggishness here and there.

Overall, not bad at all, far from it, for most of the episode but the terrible ending undermines it by a significant degree. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Sins of the Children

9/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
24 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a group of protesters try to keep a building from being torn down, a man is killed. There is a wedding between his brother and another woman. Barnaby finds that there is some sort of pact among a group of childhood friends. Jones knows one of the young women. There is an old woman who awaits the return of her long lost child, convinced that some dirty dealing was done. Soon, someone begins menacing and killing those young adults. Suspicion rests on the protesters and particularly a man named Spud. What we are treated to is one of those flashbacks where the cruelty of children is often worse that that of adults. This is one of the most intriguing episodes.

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