Midsomer Murders Set 22
Recurring character(s): DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), Sarah Barnaby (Fiona Dolman), Dr. Kate Wilding (Tamzin Malleson)
Original air date(s): UK: 09/21/2011; 10/12/2011; 10/26/2011; 01/11/2012
DVD Date: 08/06/2013
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 372 minutes
Note(s): Episodes in this series are based on characters created by crime novelist Caroline Graham.
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Review: Neil Dudgeon seems to be settling into his role as DCI John Barnaby of Causton CID and yet I continue to get the sense while watching him that he'd rather be someplace else. Whether from direction or from the script, he seems far too aloof to be in charge of these investigations and, worse, Sergeant Ben Jones seems not to care one way or the other about these cases, coming across as being rather dimwitted, more so than he ever was with Tom Barnaby.
Characters aside, it is really the stories that drive me to watch this series and I was a bit disappointed with most in this set.
In "The Sleeper under the Hill", Barnaby and Jones investigate a group of Druids in Midsomer Mow. This is the periodic mystical episode with a slight paranormal element to it, but overall it's of little interest. The plot is full of misdirection, but it's not clever misdirection.
In "The Night of the Stag", local bootleggers come under suspicion after the disappearance of a government inspector. The murder mystery plot here is set up nicely, but the episode spends far too much time on an anachronistic event that has little to do with the crime or Barnaby's investigation.
Vandalism and violence send shock waves through Midsomer's cloistered nunnery in "A Sacred Trust", by far the best episode of the set from both a storyline and character perspective. A couple of key plot points are left unresolved and the culprit is a little too out of left field but these are minor quibbles.
Finally, in "A Rare Bird" the detectives investigate whether competition between ornithology enthusiasts led to murder. This is about an average episode for the series, nicely plotted though the whodunit element seems to magically appear out of nowhere, lacking a solidly developed foundation.
I so much enjoy this series that it's troubling that half of the episodes here are completely forgettable. Part of the problem here, maybe much of it, is the dynamic — or rather, lack thereof — between Barnaby and Jones. Jones leaves at the end of the next set of episodes, so it's possible that without a history, as it were, of Jones and the "old" Barnaby that things will improve.
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