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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British TV > Telefilms > MidSomer Murders: Set 16 (Acorn Media DVD Set)

MidSomer Murders: Set 16 (Acorn Media DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: B-



You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but crime is rampant in the rural UK county of MidSomer, and death seemingly lurks around every corner!  This boxed set includes four separate mysteries featuring detectives Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and Ben Jones (Jason Hughes).  Each mystery follows a similar pattern, introducing a cast of potential victims and villains in the opening minutes, usually including someone getting murdered by an unseen assailant.  It is then left up to the inspectors to determine whom among a hamlet’s cast of colorful characters is the guilty party once again in MidSomer Murders – Set 16!


Nettles and Hughes know their characters well and handle the varied and sometimes zany plots with professional aplomb.  Inspector Barnaby is the older, more experienced hand, and Sergeant Jones provides plenty of energy as his much younger partner.  This chemistry works particularly well in “Days of Misrule”, where the pair must endure a series of horrendous team-building exercises while trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious explosion and the subsequent murders radiating out from it.  Each episode features a series of complex plot twists that generally involve a town’s recent or even distant past.  There are usually enough viable suspects to keep the audience guessing, but in some instances, it becomes less about the mystery and more about the motive.


The best of the four episodes is “The Magician’s Nephew”, a sordid tale involving a cult of pagan nature worshippers who just may have a killer among them.  Barnaby and Jones have to work out the mystery as the victims pile up, and the survivors search for what they believe to be an ancient book of arcane power.  This story offered the most surprises, revealing a most unlikely killer at its end.


Extras include only a single commentary and some production notes, along with the option for subtitles.  It would have been nice to see some cast or production interviews included, but we’re left wanting in this area.  MidSomer Murders does the mystery drama in a very workman-like fashion.  The main characters are well-played, but at times the performances and plots lack a certain dynamism.  Fans of British television and the mystery genre will surely enjoy these episodes, but casual viewers may just be left asking why anyone would ever want to live in a place as dangerous as MidSomer County.



-   Scott Pyle


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