Teen-aged Zoe Stock, a brilliant pianist, is attending a music school run by the Fielding family when she believes she sees a woman drown herself in the river, having left her baby on the bank. When the police arrive there is nothing to support her claim but Barnaby recalls that a mystery woman died in identical circumstances eighteen years earlier. Her body was found by Catholic priest Father Gregory, outside whose church an attempt is made to kill Zoe. A lucrative prize awaits the young musician adjudged the best by the Fieldings and it is assumed that another student is responsible. Written by
don @ minifie-1
Zoe plays the cantabile from Beethoven's Piano Sonata #8 during one scene. Billy Joel used this same part as the melody for the chorus of his 1984 song, "This Night" from the album An Innocent Man. See more »
I'm sorry to bother you, but how many students make it through to the next round?
It's usually a dozen for the winter school, and then three are chosen for the master class.
Good luck, darling.
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Mademoiselle from Armentières
Performed by Crowd in Pub See more »
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.
This review summary may sound ridiculously hyperbolic for a show that has been wildly hit and miss and mostly pretty stale since Season 10, but it is proof that once in a while a not-so-good period in a show's run can produce the odd gem. This is the case with "Master Class", not only is it easily the best episode of Season 13 (a season that saw embarrassments such as "The Made-to-Measure Murders" and especially "Blood on the Saddle") but to me it is also the best 'Midsomer Murders' episode since "The House in the Woods" way back from Season 9.
So many great things in "Master Class". First and foremost, 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.
Writing provokes a lot of thought, and has a healthy balance of the humorous and the darkly twisted, contrary to a previous commentator calling it silly and ridiculous (adjectives to me best suited to the likes of "Blood on the Saddle" and "Shot at Dawn") "Master Class" was the closest the show has come in a while to have the maturity seen in "classic" (Seasons 1-7 mainly) 'Midsomer Murders'.
"Master Class" story is absorbing throughout and is one of the show's darkest, complex and full-of-twists-and-turns episodes in a long time without being simplistic or incoherent. Sure, there is padding, which tended to be a very bad thing in recent episodes, but because the characterisation and their conflicts and twists and turns are fascinating, serve a point and feel relevant and come together at the end this was a rare case of what could have been a big problem was not.
Characters are closer to the more colourful and eccentric characters of the classic era rather than the lifeless ones that too many of the recent episodes had and while the conclusion is somewhat bizarre (more often than not not a good adjective) it is strikingly twisty, with the motives more inspired than the dull, flimsy and old-hat motives of many recent episodes and almost a return to the wonderfully elaborate and twisted ones, and just about easy to understand, so long as the rest of the episode has fullest attention.
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). Lydia Wilson proved one to watch and James Fox sinks his teeth into his role.
In conclusion, masterly episode and one of the best of the show in some while. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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