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Midsomer Murders: The Dagger Club (2015)
A classic Midsomer Murders episode.
The new Season 17 of my most favorite series Midsomer Murders contains only 4 episodes - what a disappointment for a real fan of the series. I hoped that there would be at least 6 new episodes - but no, only 4, and that's really disappointing. But there is one good thing - the start was pretty good, they started with a classic episode of Midsomer which contains everything we like about the series - bizarre murders with a roulette, a whole gaggle of suspects, red herrings everywhere, and all these twists and turns that make Midsomer Murders so special. This electric roulette stuff might not be so logical but it pretty sure is very ingenious and elaborate. The episode also contains a certain degree of drama which also makes it really good. The plot is very well built, logical, keeps the viewers electrified, and of course brilliant unmasking of the killer in the end (certainly the killer turns out to be the person whom you would have never thought to be capable of such a terrible thing as murder). All in all it's a perfect start for the new season, considering the fact the further episodes are going to be extremely dull and boring. This episode is the only from the whole series that I would like to watch later once again.
They wanted to disappoint their fans once again - and they did it!
It's probably the worst episode of the whole season. The chess theme was brilliant of course, but alas - another perfect opportunity wasted for nothing! The first thing that repulses - the nauseating melodramatic touch that goes right through the whole episode. Some inconsistent love story of two youngsters eloping, then one of them loses her memory and recovers exactly one year after... Seems to be a bad love novel. There was little suspense and thrill in this episode, very little logic too. The motive - to prevent exposing by a meticulous writer the truth about some blood relationship - seems to be repetitive since it has already been employed just in the previous episode! The solution is quite predictable, no surprise at all. And I don't even mention some bizarre things like snow-white teeth of Finn who had been held imprisoned in some kind of a basement for a whole year - who brushed his teeth, I wonder?? There are many such particulars that really are annoying. I stopped the film 10 minutes before it ended and, totally uninterested, deleted the file - without any regret. If the MM team continues to use such terrible scripts for further episodes then we can say farewell to good old Midsomer.
Midsomer Murders: The Dark Rider (2012)
The masterpiece of the 15th season.
A really good classical MM episode! Aitkens did again a terrific job! The scripts written by him are always unique and unexpectedly twisted. Though this episode reminds of the first Aitkens' script "The vixen's run" (family secrets and so on), still it remains genuine and fresh. The idea of a horseman without a head is just brilliant and was fulfilled in a very convincing, unobtrusive way. Twin-brothers, one of whom gets killed and another one is doomed by the Headless Horsemen - another good idea of Aitkens. The allusions to the English Civil War are also to be mentioned here. And of course - the family feud between the DeQuettevilled and the Fleetwoods - the favourite artifice of Aitkens who presented us once again a real masterpiece that is certainly worth seeing twice. Aitkens managed to create the atmosphere of suspense and mystery evolving around an ancient family ghost, at the same time it all doesn't seem to be the raving of a madman, the plot is built very logically, no loose end or unexplained tricks, you fully enjoy an intellectual battle with the suspense master like Aitkens. And of course the biggest surprise awaits you in the end since the identity of the culprit is absolutely unexpected, though the motives are quite understandable and comprehensible. In one word, Aitkens did it again. It seems that he is the only script writer who saves the series nowadays.
Not worth seeing twice, you won't remember anyway who is who.
A very unusual episode in many ways. First of all, the characters you have already got used to start behaving in an unusual way. John Barnaby turns out to be a complacent and arrogant man which he wasn't in the last series. Sergeant Jones is in the middle of a relationship (?) with a girl from the fire brigade. And what is happening to Barnaby's wife? Why does she keep on changing her hobbies and passions from one episode to another? Second thing, the number of secondary characters is so big that you can hardly remember who is who. Some characters pop up without even being shown at all like some woman barrister who got burned (or do I get things mixed up? Whatever). The characters get killed very easily, without any plan or any certain scheme, just for the sake of the elimination. Nevertheless there is almost no-one to suspect! All remaining characters are so uninteresting and pallid that you don't even expect them to turn out as culprits. But the identity of the killer is another "pleasant" surprise. Not only had he been barely shown before, he is the personal acquaintance of Mrs. Barnaby. What a striking coincidence! Though totally unusual this episode might be, it is totally far-fetched and unconvincing that you start yawning on the 10th minute.
Another possibility of a good plot wasted.
It is quite understandable that every good show tends to a decline with time since the authors start running out of ideas. Something similar happens to those who create MM films. It obviously becomes more and more difficult to invent new motives for killings. Standard motives like hate, love, greed or revenge can't satisfy any more since they have been employed in MM plenty of times, so the authors of the script put very much effort to exercise in their fantasy to invent something unusual and surprise the audience. But this time they exceeded any-one's expectations. A bunch of amateur astronomer's killed in a brutal way in order to keep in secret the information about a newly discovered planet. I presume that such a twisted plot belongs to a science fiction movie than to a good MM episode. Starting watching the film you expect to find some intrigue based on sinister divination, grim future-telling or mysterious incantations, instead you will have to deal with a plumber and an alcoholic who consider themselves great scientists and get killed in succession because of some distant planet. The total disappointment that you will experience after watching this episode has certainly been written in the stars long ago.
It could have been better.
As it has been already remarked in other reviews, you expect much from this film since the idea seems to be quite fruitful. The theme of horror movies has not been explored in MM yet and one could have expected something quite spectacular. While watching the film you start getting the feeling that you have been deceived once again. A seemingly unique plot turns into something rather boring and inconsistent. The ending is the most disappointing thing: the identity of the culprit was obvious long ago, the motive is far-fetched, the moral ("it's all about a family") too intrusive. Where is the old good Midsomer, I asked myself upon finishing this particular piece.