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Midsomer Murders - TV Series Review

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by Mihaela Schwartz (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and an avid traveler.
Published February 2nd 2013
Murders with Charm
A brilliant British TV series, whose first episodes were inspired by Caroline Graham's novels, Midsomer Murders, started being aired in 1997. Its episodes have been broadcast in over 20 countries and they still continue to entertain detective stories fans.

Settings

One of the greatest delights of watching Midsomer Murders refers to the idyllic countryside settings. Throughout the episodes you can admire historic buildings with Baroque or Renaissance facades and elegant interiors, impressive churches and castles, not to mention the landscapes.
Midsome Murders setting
Midsome Murders setting- Flickr/simon_ingram

Causton is actually a fictional rural area inspired by two small towns (Wallingford and Thame), where most of the episodes were filmed. Besides being the home of numerous historical landmarks, Wallingford has a long crime-related history as the famous detective stories writer Agatha Cristie was one of the town's inhabitants.

Characters

The main hero is Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), whose ingenious mind leads to the solution of complicated mysteries. Along the episodes, he is assisted by 3 junior cops - Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), Dan Scott (John Hopkins) and Ben Jones (Jason Hughes).
midsomer murders
Barnaby and Troy - Flickr/vicki12692

The first one to appear is Troy – a countryside chap who tries to impress his demanding and very smart boss. Although the latter's attitude towards him is much more sympathetic than towards his successors, Barnaby always succeeds to prove that there is a small flaw Troy's judgment.

When Troy becomes an inspector himself, he leaves Causton and his job is filled by Scott – a Londoner who does not succeed to earn Barnaby's sympathy. He disappears rather quickly from the series, without any other mention than him having called in sick one day. Ben Jones is recruited on the spot and he seems to do a much better job.

midsomer murders
Joyce and Cully Barnaby - Flickr/vicki12692

Other regular presences on Midsomer Murders' scene are Tom Barnaby's wife and daughter - Joyce (Jane Wymark) and Cully (Laura Howard). Although they help Tom solve some cases, neither of them is a major character. All we know about Joyce is that she is an educated woman, who likes to read, is interested in art and who enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, to her husband's despair. Cully is an aspiring actress. She has a good relationship with her parents and often sympathises with her father for having to put up with the mother's culinary talents.
Starting with the 15th season, we see John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) arrive in Causton from Brighton to replace his cousin upon the latter's retirement. His wife – Sarah Barnaby (Fiona Dolman) – appears even less than Joyce as she has a career of her own.

The plot


Each episode is a stand-alone case which could very well be squeezed in less than an hour if scratching the surface was the style. Although they might seem rather lengthy, Midsomer Murders' episodes are worth making yourself comfortable for. The cases are not only different from each other, but they are often peculiar. Taking a murder investigation as pretext, viewers are transported towards various worlds. Thus, during one episode we learn to which lengths a wild orchids' collector can go for the sake of this precious and delicate flowers. Another episode explores the jealousies and revengeful spirit of fading rock stars.

Another point of originality comes from the way the plot is constructed. The criminal mind is an intricate and sophisticated one. Therefore, the cases are always difficult to figure out (except for Tom Barnaby's sharp and inquisitive mind, of course). Actually, it seems that the screen players intentionally orient viewers in a highly possible, but wrong direction just to create the revealing twist at the end of the episode.
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Why? An exquisite TV series for detective stories lovers.
Where: DVD
Your Comment
Great article! I enjoy watching Midsomer Murders but can't help thinking that for a small town Midsomer seems to have rather a lot of murders...
by Janice Heath (score: 2|321) 1688 days ago
Thank you for this article. I love to watch Midssomer Murders also. I have all the series on DVD and watch it whenever I can. Which is great since my TV died a while ago.
by irene (score: 0|4) 1686 days ago
Thank you so much for this article and explanations about the countryside settings.
Vesna
by vesna (score: 0|9) 1685 days ago
wonderful show but I preferred John Nettles to the new chap Julie
by rosebudmay@yahoo.com.au (score: 0|2) 1679 days ago
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