Saturday, January 27, 2018

Best John Nettles Midsomer Murders Episodes

Photo by Salt Water New England
“What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order.”- P D James

When compared against the great British detective series - including Thaw's Morse (and Whately's Lewis), Hickson' Miss Marple, and Kitchen's Foyle's War, it is easy to think of Nettles' Midsomer Murders as a bit of a lightweight.  The Chief Inspector is happily married.  Most episode titles are almost comically bland.

But Midsomer stands on equal footing with some of the greats.   The balance is simply shifted superficially more towards light and bright than gravitas. Midsomer Murders may even be best appreciated for presenting extraordinary houses, cars, gardens, events, views, even roads with a blasé that almost is convincing.  And Nettles' performance allows guests to shine.

As with all of these British detective series, one can re-watch them many, many times, enjoying plots and places early on and then subsequently the richness of the performances, foreshadowing, and very dry humor.

Here are some favorite episodes:

Series One and Two
  • The Killings at Badger's Drift
  • Written in Blood
  • Death of a Hollow Man
  • Death's Shadow 
  • Strangler's Wood
Series Three and Four
  • Dead Man's Eleven
  • Death of a Stranger
  • Judgement Day
Series Five and Six
  • Ring Out Your Dead
  • Murder on St Malley's Day
  • Market for Murder.
  • A Worm in the Bud
  • A Talent for Life
Series Seven
  • The Maid in Splendour
Series Eight
  • Dead in the Water
Series Nine
  • Country Matters
Series Ten
  • Death and Dust
Series Eleven
  • Blood Wedding
Series Twelve
  • Dogleg Murders
  • The Creeper
  • The Great and The Good
Series Thirteen
  • The Made-to-Measure Murders
  • Master Class
Streaming services and local libraries are highly recommended sources.

Some still prefer to get DVDs or Blu-rays.  From Amazon.co.uk, they are less expensive, packaged by actual season/series, and most importantly have not had some small scenes cut out as can be the case with the American versions.  (One does needs a region-free media player).

Here are some of the Amazon US links for reference.  The order is correct, but the "Series" don't necessarily match up with the Seasons/Series found elsewhere, including above.  Check the Amazon description to confirm specific episodes.
  • Midsomer Murders, Series 1 <http://amzn.to/1OG90Vs> (Including: The Killings at Badger’s Drift, Written in Blood, Death of a Hollow Man)
  • Midsomer Murders, Series 2 <http://amzn.to/1OG92wz> (Including: Death’s Shadow, Strangler’s Wood, Dead Man’s Eleven)
  • Midsomer Murders, Series 5 <http://amzn.to/1TM5RDL> (Including: Market for Murder, A Worm in the Bud, Ring Out Your Dead, Murder on St. Malley’s Day)
  • Midsomer Murders, Series 13 <http://amzn.to/1OG9smM>  (Dance with the Dead / The Animal Within / King's Crystal / The Axeman Cometh)
  • Midsomer Murders, Series 14 <http://amzn.to/1TM6xJ7> (Death & Dust / A Picture of Innocence / They Seek Him Here / Death in a Chocolate Box)
  • Midsomer Murders: Set 16 <http://amzn.to/1TM6YDf> (Midsomer Life / The Magician's Nephew / Days of Misrule / Talking to the Dead)
  • Midsomer Murders: Set 17 <http://amzn.to/1TM7dhF>  (The Dogleg Murders / The Black Book / Secrets and Spies / The Glitch)
  • Midsomer Murders: Set 19 <http://amzn.to/1TM7ocM> (The Made-to-Measure Murders / The Sword of Guillaume / Blood on the Saddle / The Silent Land)
  • Midsomer Murders: Set 20 <http://amzn.to/1TM7uBi> (Master Class / The Noble Art / Not in My Backyard / Fit for Murder)

18 comments:

  1. Joan Hickson's Miss Marple is my #1 go-to for comfort TV watching, but I can always watch Midsomer over and over and over again. Midsomer's quirkiness does cause this series to stand apart somewhat, but I agree that it doesn't diminish its value at all. It makes a refreshing option compared to Luther and some of the heavier fare.

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  2. Midsomer Murders is a delightful series even though John Nettles once described many of the premises and plots as absurd. I think this is what he meant:

    The improbable number of grisly murders in a small group of idyllic English towns calls for a lot of suspension of disbelief. But I think this very incongruity of such a high body count in peaceful rural settings keeps all of us tuned in --- and amused.

    Also, even though Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby lives and works in a small geographical area (a county), he’s apparently unaware of the ancient traditions, customs and rituals in the vicinity of Causton. For example, I recall once when he and Sgt. Ben Jones were surprised to hear about a centuries-old annual festival only a few miles from their police station.

    For dark comedy, even Barnaby’s wife, Joyce, and daughter, Cully, sometimes get involved in the mayhem. I remember one episode where Joyce accidently stumbles across a fresh corpse partially hidden under a bush. What a coincidence – it was someone her husband was seeking.

    Despite often being far-fetched and campy, this great series is well worth repeated viewings.

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    1. True - if as many foul play deaths occurred in any one community - every other neighbor would, in the course of one season, be a murderer. There goes the neighborhood.

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    2. No more a suspension of disbelief than the number of murders occurring in Morse/Lewis or in Christie's idyllic village, St. Mary Mead. I suspect this is simply one of the elements of a classic British mystery series, in print or on film.

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  3. Love Midsommer Murders! Another I've come to enjoy recently is Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. These are set in Australia in the late 1920s. Though 'light' in the same sense as Midsommer Murders, it's quite charming. The characters are delightful, and the sets and costumes wonderfully done.

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    1. I've tried getting into "Midsomer Murders" over the years but have failed so far but I love Miss Fisher!

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  4. We are late to Midsommer Murders but enjoying them tremendously. Yes the plots seem far fetched but we have discovered that the writers have often hidden names from other shows in the the story. Not sure who came first the Misommer Mystery or Dr Blake mysteries but the name Lucian Blake was used in both.

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  5. "Market for Murder" is my favorite if only for the brief glimpse of the tweed quilt on Lord Chetwood's bed. Though truth be told, they're all high on my list 'must be watched'. I have the Hickson's Miss Marple on MP3 to use as a sleep aid to drift off at night. If I listen to "Bertram's Hotel", I usually wake up wanting a jelly doughnut! I blame Lady Sedgwick for that bit of indulgence.

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    1. One of mine as well, if only for Lady Chetwood...she is very attractive, wears great clothes, lives in a beat-up old mansion, and drives a very weathered old Volvo station wagon...I have a crush on her.

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  6. I love all English murder mysteries and through either PBS or Netflix, I think I've seen all. Midsomer is also my go to comfort TV. The Coroner is a new one that I enjoy but it was only produced for two seasons. The more I watch English television series, the less I watch American. Isn't that sad.

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    1. NOT sad! I totally get it. I rarely ever watch American TV anymore.

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  7. We are enjoying a subscription to Acorn, where we indulge in Midsommer Murders, Miss Marple, Poirot, etc. Sure beats watching the state of the union address tonight!

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  8. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can access some terrific British cast movies, made for TV series, documentaries as part of your membership. Recently saw the 2005 To the Ends of the Earth with Benedict Cumberbatch and sterling supporting cast. (British theatrical tradition is amazing.) You can view end to end, repeat if there are bits you didn’t catch, and no commercials (big thumbs up). For a small extra subscription fee, you can access Britbox via Amazon video, more British drama, comedy & mystery; many that have not been distributed across the pond. They have all the Midsommers, but I have not viewed those that I own in DVD, although I suspect they are the unabridged UK version. It’s a treat.

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  9. Love Midsomer, Morse, all the great detective shows from across the pond. Just finished watching and thoroughly enjoyed Inspector George Gently.

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  10. Just spotted Gwilym Lee, one of Barnaby's sidekicks, in an earlier episode of Inspector Lewis. My wife and I enjoy identifying actors from other episodes and other series. I must confess that there are times when Google remembers better than we do.

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  11. "Midsomer Murders may even be best appreciated for presenting extraordinary houses, cars, gardens, events, views, even roads," Dear Muffy, you have made me see Midsomer in a new light! I am re-watching select episodes and really enjoying the scenery, both inside and out. Since I can't stand watching the news lately, this is a wonderful distraction. Thank you!

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