Jean Wildacre is killed on stage during a magic show. She was a member of an occult group headed by imperious Ernest Balliol.Balliol and a former colleague in the group Aloysius Wilmington have long been at odds as both are anxious to locate a priceless antique book,believed to be somewhere on Aloysius's premises. Balliol has married again and his daughter Isolde is as fervent as he is in trying to find the book. His gentler son Tristan lives with and cares for his mother,Ernest's fragile first wife Rosemary. Two more deaths follow and each victim was present when one of Balliol's wives was recruited into the group years earlier. Suspicion falls on Ernest and his children and on Simon Wilmington,actually the illegitimate son of Aloysius,though he has been led to believe he is the magician's nephew. Written by
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The "Jefferson Airplane - Grateful Dead" poster in Isolde's room is from the series of concerts (8 in all) that the two bands performed in the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto, Ontario, during the period July 31 - August 5, 1967. One online seller describes it as "among the rarest of posters" and states that there are unconfirmed rumors that the original lot of posters were confiscated by Border Patrol. See more »
There are only three species of poison dart or poison arrow frog that are dangerous to humans. However, none of the frogs in captivity are toxic. Apparently their toxicity comes from their diet. Bugs and insects eat plant life that is toxic and the toxin is then passed on to the frog after eating the bugs and insects. See more »
[Barnaby is dressed in a Dracula cloak for Halloween. Cully hands him a set of fangs]
Now, Dad, I never thought I'd have to say this to you, but... put your teeth in.
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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.
"The Magician's Nephew" (in case you're wondering there is no relation to CS Lewis and 'The Chronicles of Narnia') is a long way from 'Midsomer Murders' at its worst, but also nowhere near 'Midsomer Murders' at its best. Compared to the previous episodes of Season 11 it is a superior episode to "Shot at Dawn", which was a 'Midsomer Murders' low-point, but the excellent "Blood Wedding" in particular is much better, the other two "Midsomer Life" and "Left for Dead" were decent despite the latter having a terrible ending.
Starting with its strengths, the production values in "The Magician's Nephew" 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.
It gets off to an effectively creepy start and the concept of a cult was interesting as were some of the characters' names (any fans of opera and Wagner will be nicely surprised). The very end scene with Barnaby and his family dressing up for Halloween was a great touch.
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 the supporting cast either (although the murderer was forgettable), with the always dependable Ronald Pickup and Stuart Wilson faring particularly strongly.
However, despite an effective start "The Magician's Nephew" was an example of an episode that could have done much more with its concept. It does suffer from far too much padding (something that all three episodes after "Shot at Dawn" and before this avoided), a sluggish pace and having a story that was too thin and under-populated to make up for it.
Suspects are too few and there are red herrings that come out of nowhere and are unresolved. Then there is the ending which is absurd, not quite as much as "Left for Dead" but the murderer was very sketchily developed and forgettably played throughout the episode and the motives didn't ring true. Was expecting more intrigue than the by-the-numbers one here.
Overall, passable but not very satisfying. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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