Midsomer Murders Set 13

Midsomer Murders Set 13 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), Joyce Barnaby (Jane Wymark), Cully Barnaby (Laura Howard), Dr. Bullard (Barry Jackson)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 11/12/2006, 01/19/2007 to 02/02/2007
DVD Date: 09/29/2009

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 400 minutes

Note(s): Episodes in this series are based on characters created by Caroline Graham.

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Midsomer Murders Set 13

Review: I've seen, maybe, half dozen episodes of Midsomer Murders over the years, but possibly because of the irregular schedule that the series airs in the US, it hasn't become a regular feature for me. The episodes in Set 13 are the first I've watched in several years, and the first with DS Ben Jones as Barnaby's partner.

My overall impression is that I've been missing something special here, and I'll need to order previous sets in the series. The production values are high, the acting (including those of the guest actors) first rate, and most important to me, the storylines compelling and, well, appropriately mysterious.

Below are summaries of the four episodes presented in Set 13, which I've ordered from "best" to "least best", though none are inferior in any way.

"King's Crystal" (synopsis): Owners of an artisan glassworks, the King family harbors relationships of positively Shakespearean complexity. When the enterprise shatters into pieces and its accountant winds up stabbed, Barnaby digs into rivalries of business and blood -- while Jones explores secret Masonic rites.

This episode is certainly the most complex of the four, and in many ways the most satisfying. Red herrings abound, and it showcases the investigative, and deductive, talents of both Barnaby and Jones. The Shakespearean elements are a nice touch.

"The Animal Within" (synopsis): Faith Alexander's unannounced visit to her wealthy Uncle Rex's estate turns into quite a surprise, indeed. Everyone there thinks she died in a plane crash three years earlier. When Rexís body turns up, his would-be heirs engage in a battle of wills that exposes plenty of motives for murder.

This episode was a close second for the top spot, and probably (of the four) most like an English manor house mystery. Everyone has a motive for murder, and everyone seems determined to point the finger at someone else. The outcome isn't a total surprise, but the path there is well worth taking.

"Dance with the Dead" (synopsis): Never mind the tube connecting the exhaust pipe to the window of the vintage automobile -- Simon Bright's death only looks like a suicide. The lovesick young manís murder touches off a search for Laura, his girlfriend and partner in ballroom dancing classes. But who saved the last dance for Simon?

The plot of this episode starts strong, with the image of a couple in a car apparently in a pact to commit suicide but only the body of the young man ultimately found. The investigation takes some interesting turns, but in the end, it's a bit disappointing that Barnaby doesn't actually solve the case, but rather the murderer leaves behind a weapon that unmistakably identifies them.

"The Axeman Cometh" (synopsis): Thirty years past their prime, the band Hired Gun aims for a comeback at the Midsomer Rocks Music Festival. With Barnaby among the legions of fans who still love the bandís music, their revival holds promise -- until someone sounds a discordant note by killing off the musicians, one by one.

This episode shows a different side to Barnaby, one who played in a rock-and-roll band in his youth. There are also more than a typical number of scenes of Barnaby with his family. But of the four episodes in this set, this has the weakest plot. There are too many "why now" questions that aren't properly set up or adequately answered. Still, it's entertaining, if somewhat predictable.


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