I reviewed Acorn's first large collection of Midsomer
Murders shows back at the beginning of 2008 and have been
anxiously waiting for
the second installment ever since.
Luckily the wait is over and they've put out the next mega-set
episodes, Midsomer Murders:
If you enjoyed the first set, this one is a no-brainer. Containing another great collection of cozy
British mysteries with bizarre murders that take place in quaint
villages, the set is a lot of fun.
The story hasn't changed much from the first seasons.
Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John
Nettles) lives in the city of Causton, but his jurisdiction covers all
Midsomer County. To first appearances,
Midsomer is a typical, quite British county nestled in the countryside. Whenever someone turns up dead, Barnaby and
his long suffering partner Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) (later
played by John Hopkins) investigate and
discover that beneath a town's quiet demeanor lay some unexpected
including incest, pedophilia, blackmail, wife swapping, and psychopaths. The show has all the trappings of a cozy
British mystery and the plots often revolve around small-town English
and activities including a competitive church bell-ringing group whose
start to drop dead with alarming regularity, a boarding school with a secret society, a town feud, and other
trappings often associated with British crime fiction, but the crimes
are almost all off camera) and solutions are a bit more twisted (and
interesting) than the locale would lead viewers to believe.
Firmly a mystery show, Midsomers Murders adds a nice dollop
of very dry humor to each episode's mystery that really helps to drive
the series. There are several running gags
that work well
since they aren't overdone; Sgt Troy's horrible driving skills, Joyce
(wonderfully played by Jane Wymark) wretched cooking, and Barnaby's
obsession with a case ("[When] we got married it was a registry office
you're father was in the middle of a case.
He didn't say 'I do' he said 'I've got it' and that was the last
of him until the honeymoon.") They also
sprinkle in quite jokes now and then too.
When a thief is released by a judge, Barnay remarks "Maybe the
right; give the boy one more chance. Oh, look. A squadron of pigs over
This isn't Monty Python
humor, but subtle and quite jokes that are all the more
funny because of they are down-played.
While the show does have its humorous moments, the cast of
characters, both leading and supporting, are what makes people tune in
after show. Barnaby is an old-school
copper, who is intelligent but not uppity.
Small inconsistencies will get him thinking and he doesn't stop
pondering a case until it's solved. He's
very down to earth and easy to identify with; he'd rather have a steak
fancy French meal and is perfectly happy puttering around the house on
off. Sgt. Troy, the young and
inexperienced officer, is just as enjoyable with his striving to please. He's a good foil for Barnaby's dry humor and
also the person who voices what the audience is thinking.
"But couldn't this be a simple accident?"
The big change in this set is the departure of Sgt Troy and
the addition of a new leading character, Sgt. Daniel Scott. Scott isn't a clone of Troy, he's a
different person and at first I didn't really like him.
He's a smug pretty boy who looks at the
transfer to Causton from London as an insult.
He's brusque when interviewing witnesses and looks down at most
people who live out in the country. He
is very charming when he wants to be however, and his has a gift for
people to talk when he wants to. Barnaby
quickly realizes this and will often set Scott on to a particularly
suspect. The new Sergeant does grow on
you as time goes on. By the end of the
set I had accepted him as a good addition to the cast, though I still
Troy just a bit.
This collection presents 17 wonderful mysteries that are
quite entertaining and enjoyable. The
murders don't necessarily occur at the beginning of an episode, so it's
much fun to play 'who's going to snuff it' as it is to play 'who
dunnit.' The mysteries still involve
unique characters that were the trademark of the original novels and
episodes, but the kinky sex twists are not as frequent.
They do turn up however, often in the most
unexpected places. (The twist in The Fisher King took me totally by
surprise and made it one of the better shows in this set.)
One of the things that are surprising about this show, after
having been practically weaned on American cop shows, is that they do
very differently in England. There were
several times that Barnaby and his sergeant enters a dangerous
without drawing their side arms. Of
course they don't have them, but I had to continually remind myself of
that. In another episode a man is
threatened with arrest because he let his son use his rifle.
These shows come on 19 DVDs, with one hour and a half
(roughly) episode per disc. They are
housed in a nice multi-page book, with one disc on each side of the
page. The discs appear to be identical to
original releases. These shows
originally appeared in sets 4, 6, 7, and 8.
These shows come with a stereo soundtrack that fits the show
well. Being dialog based, there isn't a
lot of use of the soundstage and the show is never flashy in the audio
department. Still, the discussions are
easy to understand and that's the important thing.
There are no subtitles.
The shows are presented with a 1.78:1 picture that is
anamorphically enhanced. The image is
never stunning, it's soft throughout and the colors are a bit drab, but
looks adequate. I was expecting a bit
more definition to the picture but I can live with it. There are only
digital defects, a little aliasing in a scene or two, but nothing
dramatic. Overall this is an average
Each disc comes with a few minor bonus features. There's
an actor's filmography and a map of
There are two bonus discs that contain a pair of
featureetes. Since they both run around
45 minutes they could have easily fit them both on one disc, but I
they split them up so that there wouldn't be an empty 'page' in the
DVD case. The first disc contains an
episode of the TV show Super Sleuth, that
looks at the series first 10 years. They
interview the cast and crew and even talk with the author whose books
series, Caroline Graham. They discuss
the guest stars, the settings, and of course the sometimes bizarre
take place in the show. It's a nice look
back and well worth watching, though it was also included in the
collection "Midsomer Murders - The Early Cases."
The second bonus disc is taken over by a 45 minute
featurette Map of Midsomer Murders.
Hosted by series lead John Nettles, this special
takes a look at the actual towns and villages used to create the
Midsomer County. They point out some
interesting facts, like when location have been used more than once,
would be a great guide for anyone wanting to take a trip to see the
I enjoyed this set just as much as the first one, even with
the departure of Sgt. Troy. This is a
fun and enjoyable series. Filled with
odd and likeable characters, some crackin' mysteries and a nice dollop
humor, mystery fans will have a great time watching the early episodes
wonderful series. Highly