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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British TV > Telefilms > TV Siutation Comedy > Politics > MidSomer Murders – Set 17 (2008/Acorn Media DVD) + Spin City – Season Four (1999 – 2000/Shout! Factory DVD)

MidSomer Murders – Set 17 (2008/Acorn Media DVD) + Spin City – Season Four (1999 – 2000/Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C/D     Episodes: C



Proving that not all hit TV is good, sometimes an adequate show can have a very long run and land an audience.  Here are two such shows.


It is becoming a sort of joke that MidSomer Murders is still on the air and DVD sets are still arriving.  The series about killings in a “nice, small town” has stunningly reached Set 17 (!) and by now, you would think the town would be condemned, no matter how nice the weather, buildings and plants are.  With so many people being killed, you might think the town was owned by an HMO if this were set in the U.S. and property values would drop.  Where’s the graffiti?  Is that nice house now a crack house?


The Dogleg Murders, The Black Book, Secrets & Spies and The Glitch are the latest telefilm mysteries (only so exciting) and they are as unexciting as Law & Order meets Murder, She Wrote at their most played out, though this could be worse.  Peter Davison, Alice Krige and Philip Jackson even show up in guest casts this time, but it does not help much.  It has been a long time since I covered one of these sets (you have to go back to Ten) and though some of the other writers have enjoyed it, they did not have to watch the earlier shows either.  This is for fans only, though the show has not become much worse since, it is just too formulaic to recommend.  It is not off the air yet either.  You can find all the sets to date reviewed elsewhere on this site.


Then there is Spin City – Season Four (1999 – 2000) reaching what turned out to be its midpoint.  Star Michael J. Fox was not well and this was not public yet from what I remember, though his battle with the awful Parkinson’s Disease was soon going to be part of the national debate.  It cut this show short, though Heather Locklear (in an interesting move, giving her some of her more interesting work) joined the cast and stayed on the show until it ended.


The writing is good for the kind of show it is, but I was never a big fan and like MidSomer, it just moved on being what it was.  That means it is safe and there is no growth, though seeing Fox here act through his problems is amazing and this was sadly his last season on the show, so this is a key season for fans and the show if nothing else.  All 26 episodes are here over four DVDs.  You can find all the sets to date for this show as well reviewed elsewhere on this site.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on MidSomer is as soft as its predecessors, but it does not look bad or great, but the switch to HD from film has permanently hurt the show visually and color suffers too.  The 1.33 X 1 image on City episodes also is soft with aliasing errors and is also only so engaging.  Both have Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks and they are better than their picture, but nothing with any palpable surrounds.  They are at least professionally recorded.  Only MidSomer has extras and they include text production notes, facts and cast interviews (text) with John Nettles, Jason Hughes and Kirsty Dillon.


One last thing.  The MidSomer covers like so many TV shows (including Spin City) have similar designs, but MidSomer has been going on so long that if you look at them in release order, it is like time-lapse photography or something you would see in either plastic surgery or hair replacement ads.  Wonder if they could at least break the formula of their covers.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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