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on 16 May 2013
Midsomer is a remarkably deadly place, a deceptively delicious chocolate box filled poisoned confections. Generations of loyal inhabitants risk life and limb to live in Midsomer's bucolic hills and dales. Thankfully, DCI John Barnaby is as gifted at detection as his cousin Tom. The Barnaby line is rooted in Midsomer's earth, they are dependable in never being surprised by bizarre occurrences. Nothing flummoxes or gobsmacks a true Barnaby. The excellent actor Neil Dudgeon enriches Midsomer with his wry nuance. And Jason Hughes is intrepid as Detective Inspector Ben Jones, his humor adds another level of complexity to the series. Coziness in the U.K. has a macabre stain; like a lace doily blotched with tea, darkness lurks at the edges. In Midsomer County's dangerous environs, denizens inflict and suffer numerous creative malaises.

The U.K. boasts numerous fine (and often underrated) actors. You may want to catch Neil Dudgeon in an unforgettable performance in a superb story (1st season, episode 3) of the BAFTA Award winning series The Street. Neil Dudgeon plays Brian Peterson, a teacher accused of being a flasher. Ultimately, who is the betrayer? His wife claims she has never known him, perhaps it is the other way around. As Brian Peterson gazes out of a taxi window passing street after fogbound street, you understand that each street is full of stories, each person's life with it's moments of mystery. Be aware that The Street is gritty, rough, and harrowing, quite unlike the beguiling charms of Midsomer!

Several episodes in this collection have missteps, no fault of the cast, that may disappoint dedicated fans. The first episode, "Death in the Slow Lane," is a somewhat disorienting introduction to DCI John Barnaby. Producer Brian True-May inflicts shrill drug taking schoolgirls on viewers. Where is screenwriter Tony Horowitz when you need him? Later, the third episode, "Echos of the Dead," panders to graphic CSI style, featuring a dismembered female corpse, with a saw placed on her bare rear-end. This gratuitously lacks the dry humor of Midsomer classics, as in the memorable murder via trebuchet and wine bottles.

Death in the Slow Lane
DCI John Barnaby, a cousin of our original curmudgeon, is wonderfully played by Neil Dudgeon. And he has a dog companion, the emotive Sykes; England, this blessed plot, rife with delightful dogs and detectives. Midsomer's classic formula features charming villages with a high body-count. But this episode, written by Michael Aitkens, despite moments of great dialogue, is off-kilter. The trite titillation of chattering schoolgirls is a malformation of Midsomer, straining to be topical; a poor way to meet new DCI John Barnaby at work! Barnaby's relationship with DI Ben Jones (expertly played by the wry Welsh-humored Jason Hughes) is off to an uneven start. All is not well at a girls' boarding school. Was a past death really suicide? There are hints at some form of incest, a relatively (pun intended) common Midsomer sin. A local DJ is stabbed by a gorgeous red sports car prior to his judging a classic car show. His body being rolled-away on a gurney, weapon wobbling, is classic Midsomer. A humorous aspersion is cast at redheads/ginger, "they are all sex-mad and ill-tempered." The best scenes involve Barnaby being greeted as "Tom," meeting his overly-friendly neighbors, and enjoying delightful conversations with his precocious dog.

Dark Secrets
This episode, again written by Michael Aitkens, again features quaffs of incest on the menu. But "Dark Secrets" boasts the classic Midsomer oeuvre viewers expect, with a rambling old manor amidst gorgeous English countryside The mansion is inhabited by eccentrics, William Bingham (Edward Fox) and his wife Mary (the wonderful Phyllida Law). They rattle about, subsiding on tea and pizza delivery. Our DCI John Barnaby's wife, Sarah (Fiona Dolman), arrives in Midsomer to find that her husband has neglected to unpack. She is the new head teacher at Causton Comprehensive, and receives an unenthusiastic welcome, though she finds a clever way to unpack. Meanwhile, after the body of a social worker is found floating in a river, the reclusive Bingham couple come under police scrutiny. Barnaby and Jones unearth scandalous family secrets, and decipher astronomical charts to discover the murderer. This episode continues a Midsomer theme: a generation went wrong in the 1960/70s, threw off Edwardian sensibilities, and replaced repression with indulgence, to the harm of future generations.

Echoes of the Dead
Despite beauty of Midsomer village Great Worthy, this episode, written by Peter J. Hammond, is like spoiled clotted cream. Producer Brian True-May goes awry with the second murder's exploitative, graphic ugliness; it has none of the macabre humor true to Midsomer's spirit. You know things are off when the dialogue descends to discussing "butt-plugs." Newly single Dianne Price is discovered strangled, dressed like a bride, and laid out in a bath. A lipstick-written warning is scrawled on the bathroom mirror. At first, all seems like vintage Misdomer. The incident spurs copycat wedding-themed murders. Barnaby and Jones investigate a host of suspects, including a corrupt ex-colleague of Ben's, an cop who runs a pub with a former brothel madam, who happens to be his wife. But (yet again) religious fanatics are the worst culprits. The detectives realize that the cases have eerie similarities to past notorious murders. If only they resembled Midsomer's infamous, but charming, macabre heritage.

Thankfully, the following stories return to the offbeat, humorous alternative universe that Midsomer fans crave. Midsomer writers hit their stride, providing an exceptional cast with more worthy material:

Oblong Murders
Sharp dialogue stands out in this episode, written by reliable Midsomer vet David Hoskins. The opening scenes wonderfully depict the world from a dog's eye-view. John Barnaby takes his dog Sykes for a ramble along a path, passing other dogs being walked along the way. Later, forensic medical specialist David Bollard (John Barnaby once called him bullock) asks Barnaby to help find Lucy Oliver, a daughter of his friends. She went missing after becoming involved with a secretive new-age cult, the Oblong Foundation, located at Malham Hall. Long-suffering DI Ben Jones is forced to forgo his vacation to go undercover among the cultists. Finally, viewers see his old humor and charm return (the prior episodes turned him dour). He discovers that the accidental deaths involving the previous owners of Malham Hall may have been murder. Jones copes with several eager females, while navigating the Oblong Foundation's philosophies ("be a tree") promulgating free-love. He discovers money-laundering, and a secret relationship between an Oblong Foundation leader and the missing girl. Fortunately, Ben is intrepid and fast on his feet! And Sykes make some new friends.

The Sleeper Under The Hill
What could be more enticing than pints of bubbly cider with DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DI Ben Jones (Jason Hughes)? But beware, in Midomer County, even Beltane celebrations are treacherous. Children dance around a Maypole, whilst fat sausages roast under the refreshments tent, and the cider is not all it seems. Midsomer fans know that under the cheery, bucolic surface of Midsomer's green hills and dales, a darkly pagan heart fiercely lurks; this helps explain the untoward death-toll. On Crowcall Farm, Alex Preston wants to plow Gorse Meadow. But local New Dawn Druids desire free access to the Meadow, since it contains the sacred stone Crowcall Circle. In a typically gruesome Midsomer death, Preston is found disemboweled on the central stone of the sacred circle. The farmer's wife is too glamorous, and indulges in a dalliance with her fencing-master. A poacher is accused of malfeasance, whilst lay-lines and archaeological artifacts come into play. Barnaby and Jones must unearth local village gossip and history to solve the mystery.

The Night of The Stag
Watch out! It's another pagan holiday in Midsomer County, where moonshiner investigators have it hard. Why ruin a vat of cider with a corpse? Answer: this is Midsomer, after all! And poor DCI John Barnaby gets quite sick on the unsavoury stuff. His dog Sykes is not impressed. During Beltane celebrations, an investigator of illegally produced alcohol is found dead in cider-vat. Barnaby and Jones believe the whole community is somehow involved. Families go so far back that they call one orchard-owner "French" because his ancestors only came over with William the Conqueror. The unsavory murder may be related to the revival of an old, pagan Midsomer traditions, while guest-star Warren Clarke does a memorable turn in a deer-skull. Beware horns in Midsomer!

Sacred Trust
After a chapel's lovely stained-glass window is broken, a nun is found murdered in Midsomer Priory, a secluded community in a lovely edifice that houses the nuns of the Order of Saint Mathilde. The murder forces the nuns to permit the outside world access into their world; enter our intrepid detectives Barnaby and Jones. They discover that the community is vulnerable to relinquishing ownership, and their priest is no help. The Priory is subject to a Deed of Trust that only allows the Order to remain living there only as long as there is a viable community. If the Order fractures, the ownership reverts to the original benefactor's heirs. Beneath the calm face of the Priory, Barnaby and Jones must untangle a skein of motives, while the Order's ancient silver goes missing, and teenagers run amiss.

A Rare Bird
Beware the power of the tweet. The president of the local Ornithological Society, Patrick Morgan, is a brittle bloke, myopic about birds, distracted by binoculars, and his delicate Russian ballerina of a wife is preggers. Without much assistance from said ornithologist. So he suspects every man in Midsomer-in-the-Marsh of impregnating her. The rare Blue Crested Hoopoe has made a controversial appearance in the village, setting birders against one another. DCI Barnaby annoys his dog, and his wife, with his surprising lack of map-skills in the woods. Death looms like a loon-call on a lake, and Patrick is lured to his demise. Barnaby and Jones face frustrations whilst investigating Midsomer-in-the-Marsh's binocular-weaponed world of bird watching.

Each episode is 90 minutes long, and has subtitles for those with trouble hearing the telly. Special Features: Cast Filmographies, Picture Gallery, Writer Biography, Broadcast Dates.

I also highly recommend the gritty Northumberland, U.K., mystery series, featuring the wonderful Brenda Blethyn: Vera: Series 1-2 .
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on 15 May 2012
We have the complete Midsomers Series and love it. Like others, we were concerned about the Barnaby switch, but the overall series retained it's magic. The series is even better in our view with the addition of closed caption.
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on 18 May 2012
I have always loved midsomer murders and still do. Neil Dudgeon has taken on the role to perfection, along with the adorable dog Sykes this series has been great.
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on 20 March 2012
I liked series 14 very much and felt it carried on very well where John Nettles left off but why the steep price? You can get 1200 minutes of Heartbeat in series 10 for £35 but here you have to pay £45 for only 744 minutes. A bit of a rip-off I feel. I want to get this but no way am I paying silly money like that for it. Who is releasing it - "We see you coming plc"?
Update 16 May 2012: Well done Amazon, have just eventually purchased it at a great price of £16.77. Now that is much much better.
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on 13 June 2012
I am an immense fan of John Nettles' Barnaby and, have to admit, I was not really sure about how anybody (even Neil Dudgeon) could follow him. But if this series is any indication, Midsomer will still be a great place to watch...
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on 20 July 2013
Well for me I did not have to wait long for liking the new Barnaby. The stories seem more interesting, or is it just new blood that is running better, I don't know, but for me the good feeling from the first series of Midsomer Murders is back. Barnaby and his wife do fit in very well
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on 16 March 2014
I have been a loyal fan of Midsomer Murders since the very beginning. For me, it has always been the ultimate in 'comfort blanket' TV. Bad day at work, boyfriend blues, bout of flu, put on a dvd, curl up and bingo - it's all better! Sadly, the new Inspector Barnaby falls far short of his illustrious predecessor, and after 17 years of watching and buying every episode, I am giving up. I've always liked Neil Dudgeon, but for some inexplicable reason, he just manages to drain every drop of life from this role. I realise the series is sold as 'Inspector Barnaby' overseas but if I had been at the helm, I would have brought the brilliant Inspector Troy back and paired him up with the equally admirable Sergeant Jones. After all, who says there HAS to be an Inspector Barnaby? Taggart seems to have done okay without the physical presence of Jim Taggart for the past 20-ish years. But what do I know? I'll just toddle off back to my sofa with a cuppa and a copy of The Killings at Badger's Drift' Class...
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on 11 September 2015
This was a gift for my husband who loves Midsomer Murders, he was very pleased but these dvd's are becoming a bit expensive as the series continues we were unsure as to the series with a new Barnaby but we both love Neil and although we miss John Nettles Neil makes a very good replacement, however I was a bit disappointed after watching episode 5 of this series that I could not find the Awen brooch anywhere, it is so beautiful and I would love to but a copy perhaps the company producing the series could arrange to have some made as I am sure I am not the only person who would love to own one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 March 2014
John Nettles could act, he proved that in Bergerac, but he seldom had to show it in Midsomer Murders, though now and again, there was a flash of brilliant comedy. He was attractive, though, the mature woman's crumpet. Neil Dudgeon looks a bit self-conscious as he takes on the role and attempts the sly humour. He does it pretty well and has started to build a good partnership with Jason Hughes, the best Barnaby sidekick ever.
Nothing has changed in Midsomer. The murders are ever more inventive and the average of four per episode is still being kept up, with a further murder narrowly prevented by a last minute stroke of genius/intuition from Barnaby. In the first episode, he moves into his new house alone and has to deal with various strange approached from the neighbours. We learn that he has a cute mutt of a dog and a wife who hasn't arrived yet (leading me to wonder whether she hadn't been cast yet). They are approaching middle age but have no child yet and she turns out to be the headmistress of a local school. Unlike Joyce Barnaby, she is an independent woman who earns her own living, spars with her husband and does not let him get away with much, in an affectionate way. In fact, she seems more intelligent than her husband, also a bit of a mutt! However, he wanders vaguely through his cases until the right answer comes to him by mysterious means I haven't fathomed yet, but obviously show that he is brighter than he looks.
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on 31 August 2012
I think the problem at this point is with the writers. Neil Dudgeon is OK, but what happened to Jason Hughes? Suddenly, he is inept, immature and unexperienced! Its not the actors, its the awful scripts. I'm hanging on as a fan, but just.
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