Blu-ray Review: Midsomer Murders (Set 25)



When a TV series hits 100 episodes, it’s a cause for a celebration. This the golden number for syndication. Producers dream of making Seinfeld money on the day the 100th episode airs. For most American TV shows, this is achieved towards the end of the fifth season. Things are different in England where they invented the extremely short season. Midsomer Murders finally hit 100 after being on the air for 17 years. The show isn’t a normal TV series since each episode is a feature film length. If each episode gets cut in half, they’ve really made 200 episodes. Midsomer Murders: Set 25 marks the arrival of the 100th case with a Danish delight.

DCI Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) is back working the homicides that crop up in the quaint Midsomer county. Among the traditional English countryside is a lot of treacherous locals. Sometimes it is hard to tell the local color from raving psychopaths. There is a new face on the force with the arrival of Detective Sergeant Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee). He’s a younger guy with a bit of a beatnik style with his light beard and sweater look. He arrives just in time for the holiday homicide of “The Christmas Haunting.” Excited folks are ghost hunting in the witching hour. They’re looking for the ghost of a blacksmith’s daughter who is supposedly looking for revenge. Somebody dies and DCI Barnaby isn’t going to pin this on the ghost. The only thing that haunts him is the memory of his old DS. But Barnaby gives Nelson a chance to prove he can adapt to countryside crime where you can’t overwhelm the murder room like an episode of CSI. They quickly realize the victim had enough living suspects that wanted him dead. There is quite a bit of home action for Barnaby since his wife is in the final months of her pregnancy.

“Let Us Prey” brings a touch of the Spanish Inquisition to England. Turns out a sweet church has had some rather gruesome old frescoes in a crypt. That’s normally just historic weirdness except some local is reenacting the tortures depicted in modern times. Making matters worse is a major weather event that might wash away the suspect’s trail. “Wild Harvest” features a farmer that has been mauled to death by a wild boar. Normally this isn’t a homicide and just reasoned as nature being nature. However the farmer is dripping in truffle oil. Wild Boar aren’t known for their seasonings. This scent leads Barnaby to a famous chef nearby. This does sound like a murder pot concocted by Anthony Bourdain. “The Flying Club” opens when a parachute doesn’t work for the owner of a small airfield. Who made this birdman drop like an egg? Could be the older residents who hate the sounds of airplanes messing with their country life. There’s also dark secrets involving the the victim and his soaring past.

“The Killings of Copenhagen” is the celebrated 100th episode. A man in a Copenhagen hotel gets a tin of cookies that’s been mailed to him. Within a few minutes, he is dead. How could he die so quick? Turns out the tin was coated with strychnine. How does this tie back to Midsomer? Turns out that the dead guy owned a cookie company back in England and the tin was mailed from home. This leads to Barnaby and Nelson investigating the biggest English-Danish homicide event since Hamlet. Making matters more pressing for Barnaby is that his wife is about to hit her due date. The Danish investigative crew are part of their version of The Killing.

Midsomer Murders continues to be a enthralling mystery series after 17 years and 100 episodes. The cast has changed, but the essence remains. DS Nelson is a good fit for the show. He makes sure that new fans can get an orientation of the area. The writers continue to find creative ways for people to die in posh settings. Midsomer Murders is the perfect for fans of Downton Abbey that want a modern twist and a body count.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution really brings out the charms of the English countryside and the manors. The audio is 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The sound levels transport you into the tranquility of the well kept gardens. The episodes are subtitled.

Gwilym Lee Interview (9:07) lets him discuss entering a show that’s distributed around the world. He seems awed and comfortable being a part of a show that has hit 100 episodes. He senses the popularity of the show is the landscapes and manor houses.

Behind the Scenes (23:06) focuses on the changes on the show as it nears 100. They talk of creating the character of DS Nelson.

Celebrating 100 Episodes (17:08) covers the history of the series through out the year. It’s a fine primer for new fans.

Photo Gallery (2:02) is a montage of production stills including the cast going to Denmark.

Midsomer Murders: Set 25 marks the 100th episode of a fine English murder mystery series. The homicide cases include a Christmas special and a trip to Denmark. DS Nelson is a welcomed addition to the investigation unit.

Acorn Media presents Midsomer Murders: Set 25. Starring: Neil Dudgeon and Gwilyn Lee. Boxset Contents: 5 episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs. Rated: Unrated. Released: February 24, 2014.

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