Midsomer Murders Set 18

Midsomer Murders Set 18 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), Joyce Barnaby (Jane Wymark), Dr. George Bullard (Barry Jackson), WPC Gail Stephens (Kirsty Dillon)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): UK: 10/28/2009, 01/27/2010, 04/14/2010
DVD Date: 09/06/2011

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 300 minutes

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

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Midsomer Murders Set 18

Review: In what must be the understatement of the century, Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby turns to his Detective Sergeant in "Small Mercies" and says, "You see, Jones, you look at this, you'd think you were in some kind of rural paradise. But how wrong you'd be." That comment pretty much sums up not only the episodes of this set, but of the series as a whole. Midsomer Murders is one of the most consistently entertaining crime dramas currently being produced, and what makes it so remarkable is that it has been on the air for some 14 years now.

Set 18 of the DVDs includes three episodes that originally aired as part of Series 12 in the UK in, respectively, October 2009, January 2010, and April 2010.

"Small Mercies"

The producers frequently find unusual sites in which to stage a murder — and one has to wonder how many more they can come up with — but the model village in this episode has to be one of their best to date. I admit I hit the pause button and immediately did a bit of online research into the village — it's the Bekonscot Model Village and Railway in the town center of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire — and have made a mental note to make sure I stop by if and when I ever get back to England. But back to the episode … The dead man, Richard Tanner, is found tied to the ground a la the titular character in Gulliver's Travels in the model town square, having been stabbed in the back. The residents of Little Worthing are an eccentric bunch, but apparently Tanner was in a class by himself, not particularly well liked by anyone, and no one seems to have an alibi. In the end it's a little disappointing that the motive for his murder — and the two that follow — is not at all cleverly devised, and hardly worthy of the incredible setting in which this episode takes place.

Synopsis from the studio: The village of Little Worthing prides itself on two tourist attractions: the annual boat race and an elaborate model village. Then the body of troublemaker Richard Tanner turns up bound on the model with string and pegs like a passage from Gulliver’s Travels. As Barnaby and Jones investigate, they discover that outsized passions swirled around the tiny figurines and that this model hamlet hides troubling personal histories.

"The Creeper"

This is a fun episode, written with a light touch and in many ways more humorous than mysterious. A cat burglar is hitting the grand estates of the county, taking valuables but also an odd item or two as well. It isn't until someone is murdered that it appears as if the thief has turned killer. But there are secrets within the families affected by the crimes that suggest to Barnaby a different motive for murder. The well developed and paced storyline is prototypically British in its scope and content, and reminiscent of the classic mysteries by Agatha Christie.

Synopsis from the studio: A cat burglar called the Creeper stalks the homes of Causton, putting residents on high alert. But more than jewelry and electronics are at stake, as the long-held secrets of the aristocratic Chettham family start to come to light. The Chetthams have staved off financial ruin by selling their home to their friend Jack Filby. When a man is suffocated and his valuables stolen at a birthday party hosted by Filby, it seems the Creeper has turned killer. Barnaby receives unexpected aid to uncover the truth.

"The Great and the Good"

This episode takes a while to get going but once it does there are plenty of twists and turns to keep one interested. At first it seems to be a variation on the story of the boy who cried wolf, with a young woman claiming to be tormented by noises in the night, only to have the entire village turn out to help her … and find nothing. But it's all an elaborate case of misdirection on the part of the screenwriter. I have to admit I was mentally heading off in a completely different direction, trying to identify the culprit based on the sequence of events … and convinced I was right. I wasn't. "It would have fooled me," Jones says at one point, a good line for a very good episode.

Synopsis from the studio: Educator Connie Bishop faces a slew of troubles. A decline in pupils may close down her village school, and she herself suffers from night terrors. But has she been imagining an intruder in her home, or are her suspicions well founded? When a local politician dies in her garden, it confirms her worst fears. As Barnaby and Jones investigate, another man is murdered on Connie’s property. Is the sweet-natured schoolteacher a victim — or a killer?


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