DVD Review: MIDSOMER MURDERS – Set Twelve.

Acorn Media
Release date: Mar 24, 2009
MSRP: $49.99

Stars: John Nettles, Jason Hughes

It is time to return to Midsomer County, a loverly, well to do county on the English countryside that has an extraordinarily high homicide rate.

Based on the characters of Caroline Graham, MM is a delightful series of English Cozy mysteries. That in and of itself is nothing new, but the series understands just how insane it is for one little county to be the home of a remarkably high number of murders, some of which are quite nasty. With a wink and a nudge, MM sends us along with Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, a low-key copper with a razor sharp mind, and Detective Constable Ben Jones as they try to keep the county killers in line.

Lest anyone new think that this is a parody of the traditional English mysteries, it is not. It is a subtle blend of mystery and black comedy, with the creators seemingly taking great pleasure in coming up with bizarre (and brutal) ways to off folks each and every episode. It is clear that the makers (along with Barnaby and Jones) realize just how insane it is that Midsomer County has enough murders to keep the cops of Homicide: Life on the Streets busy.

Fans of Murder She Wrote, Maddock and their ilk will almost certainly enjoy this series, but the appeal certainly goes beyond the lovers of cozies. Anyone that knows me knows I prefer my murders hardboiled, yet I honestly enjoy the adventures of Barnaby.

Contained here are four stories that originally aired in the fall of 2006.

Four Funerals and a Wedding: Every year, the Skimmington Fayre rekindles an age-old battle of the sexes in Broughton. But this year’s casualties end up six feet under. This episode contains one of the best lines of the set, with Jones saying “ We’re never getting out of here, are we, sir? It’s like Groundhog Day.”

Country Matters: The town of Elverton is in an uproad over a proposed new supermarket. A consultant, hired by the new market, turns up dead. A little digging reveals that the consultant had been getting to know (If you get my drift) some of the local ladyfolk..

Death in Chorus: The Midsomer Worthy Choir has a new director, Laurence Barker. Mr. Barker is determined to win the upcoming choral competition, but sees his dream crumble when the tenor is murdered. Not long after, other members receive threats and things get nasty.

Last Year’s Model: As Annie Woodrow goes on trial for murdering her best friend, DCI Barnaby begins to have second thoughts about her guilt. After talking with old friend and psychologist Pru Plunkett, Barnaby decides to find the truth.

The transfer here has a 1.78:1 ratio, with the a fairly nice transfer. Everything is crisp with a bright and clean picture.

The soundtrack is in Dolby Digial English 2.0 and that does just fine here. Also included are English subtitles.

Midsomer Murders is one of those shows that can be enjoyed on a number of levels. If you take it at face value, you have a well-made cozy series. If you look more carefully, you have a show that takes great delight in playing with the genre with a touch of snark and oh so dry wit.

Order set 12 of Midsomer Murders.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.