DVD review: Midsomer Murders, Set 13

MidsomerMurdersTitle: Midsomer Murders, Set 13
Starring: John Nettles, Jason Hughes
Running time: 400 min.
MPAA: Not Rated
Release date: September 29, 2009
ASIN: B001V7YZD4
Studio: Acorn Media
Review source: Acorn Media
Rating: B+

Set in a fairly small English village where most people know each other, yet rural enough that you can hide out or manage discretion; Midsomer Murders pairs Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby [John Nettles] with a youthful protégée Detective Sergeant Ben Jones [Jason Hughes]. The series has that creepy vibe that the British mystery writers have mastered fairly well. It must have something to do with the rainy days and those long-standing traditions. Because behind those rolling fields and long driveways, flower-filled patches in the midst of the woods and lovely landscapes lies some strange behaviors, obsessions and truly evil doings. But Barnaby and Jones aim to get to the bottom of it all. As long-running as our Law & Order is here, Midsomer Murders has aired since 1997 in the UK. The series and mysteries are inspired by novelist Caroline Graham.

Four episodes are featured [I cannot say too much without giving anything away]:

Dance with the Dead

When a young man, Simon Bright, asphyxiates in a vintage automobile, Barnaby and Jones search for his enigmatic girlfriend, Laura Sharp. The scene, with romantic music, a bottle of wine and two wine glasses, looks like that of a Romeo and Juliet suicide pact but only the young man is found in the car. And he’s been whacked on the head. As the two detectives question the villagers, you think it’s going a certain way and then, surprise! Excellent detective work.

The Animal Within

This one starts out strong: Faith arrives from Philadelphia to visit her uncle. She’s greeted by the groundskeeper: “You’re supposed to be dead,” he exclaims. “What is the old badger up to now?” She then tells them all that no one in her family has seen Rex in 40 years. Rex had told everyone that Faith and her entire family had died in a plane crash. Now he’s disappeared. When Rex turns up dead with four different wills then everything begins to unravel and turn topsy-turvy, to say the least. Secrets about Rex are revealed and strange events occur. This is definitely my favorite of the bunch. So darkly secret and wickedly strange.

King’s Crystal

Shanghai, China. Two brothers. One dies in an explosion. He seems to have been the popular one among this wealthy King family. The family business? Oh, that cut-throat artisan glassworks. I like this one because the family is very posh. The Estate is gorgeous. I expect everyone to go off on a hunt (on horses—it’s Britain!). The kids are mad at mom. The business is not doing as well as one thought. This one is a bit slower paced.

The Axeman Cometh

Choice quote: “Gary, when I was 13 and welded to a pony and you’d fled Midsomer to become the new gormless ape on the rock scene we were still friends, right?”

This is a funny one. Aging heavy-metal rockers have taken over the town for the Midsomer music rock festival. They’re lounging around by a pool in shades and 70s attire– long hair, leather, flowy clothes. Barnaby reminisces about various concerts. He’s even looking through his old albums and playing air guitar. [Barnaby’s daughter: “Dad please try and maintain the gap between the generations.” The vibe sours though when someone is killing the rock stars.

Features: Caroline Graham biography and cast filmographies

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