Posted: 01/30/2010

 

Midsomer Murders: Barnaby’s Casebook

by Del Harvey




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The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in Midsomer Murders: Barnaby’s Casebook, a contemporary British television mysteries. The smash hit series stars John Nettles (Bergerac) as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, a dogged investigator and devoted family man, unflappable in the face of the macabre crimes and eccentric characters he encounters on the job.

Inspired by the characters of novelist Caroline Graham, these 17 mysteries see the promotion of Barnaby’s earnest assistant, Sergeant Troy (Daniel Casey, The Wingless Bird), and the arrival of his brash replacement, Sergeant Dan Scott (John Hopkins, Love in a Cold Climate). Guest stars include Hugh Bonneville, Gemma Jones, Honor Blackman, John Standing, Freddie Jones, Susan Wooldridge, Phoebe Nicholls, Stella Gonet, and Henry Ian Cusick. The series won the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nomination for Best Television Feature or Miniseries.

One of BBC’s most popular mystery series, Midsomer Murders is said to be a favorite of both Johnny Depp as well as of Her Majesty The Queen. Following in the footsteps of such venerable detectives as Miss Marple, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) provides perfect parts very dry humor to each episode, including several running gags which work well as they are kept to a minimum, such as his partner’s terrible driving skills or his wife’s (Joyce Barnaby - Jane Wymark) truly awful cooking, or the Inspector’s complete obsession with each case.

There are also a good bit of subtle jokes, but the main dish here is mystery. In Midsomer Murders, it’s all about character. What is the motive? Who would have done such a terrible thing? Then Barnaby and his partner get to work and start overturning rocks, trying to dig up as much as they can in their painstaking methodology.

This series marks the department of Barnaby’s longtime partner, Sgt. Troy (Daniel Casey), who is replaced by a smug pretty boy, Sgt. Daniel Scott (played by John Hopkins). While the character shift is a bit jarring at first, eventually he grows on you as his character and that of DCI Barnaby’s begins to mesh. It’s not long before they settle into their partnership and the new guy grows on you. Midsomer Murders: Barnaby’s Casebook is an altogether excellent DVD set and well worth owning.

The 17 mysteries in this set include:
Tainted Fruit
Ring Out Your Dead
Murder on St. Malley’s Day
Market for Murder
A Worm in the Bud
A Talent for Life
Death and Dreams
Painted in Blood
A Tale of Two Hamlets
Birds of Prey
The Green Man
Bad Tidings
The Fisher King
Sins of Commission
The Maid in Splendour
The Straw Woman
Ghosts of Christmas Past

And there are a number of extras included in this DVD set:
-Map of Midsomer Murders, a behind-the-scenes documentary hosted by John Nettles
-Super Sleuths, a documentary about the show’s first decade
-Interview with John Nettles
-Essays by star John Nettles and co-creator Betty Willingale
-Midsomer map
-Production notes
-Biography of Caroline Graham
-Cast filmographies

For more info, or to purchase, click here.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.



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