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Blu-ray Review: Midsomer Murders, Set 19

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John Nettles is back as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murders, Set 19. Set in the the fictional villages of Midsomer, perhaps the most brutal and bloodiest part of England, this Blu-ray boxed set features four episodes from the popular murder mystery series.

L-R: Jason Hughes, John Nettles, and Neil Dudgeon

All four episodes are from 2010 and feature Barnaby, ably assisted by Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), with occasional helpful input from wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) and daughter Cully (Laura Howard).

The four feature-length mysteries on two discs have a total running time of 400 minutes, and are in widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1080i/16:9. The episodes are in English, with SDH subtiles available. Sound is 2.0 stereo PCM. Extras include scene selection and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery.

It’s a miracle that there is any population left in Midsomer County, as the body count is rather high in all of these episodes. But it is also as entertaining as usual to watch Barnaby and Jones try to unravel the sordid motives behind multiple murders.

Disc One:

Episode 1, “The Made-to-Measure Murders” – The village of Milton Cross is positively feudal, with the residents in thrall to the lord of the manor, Edward Milton (James Wilby). But Milton Cross also has its secrets. An abusive tailor named Gerald (Nigel Williams) met his death a few years ago, and now his widow Sonia (Maureen Beattie) is found stabbed to death in the churchyard. How much does the lord really know about goings on in his village? Barnaby and Jones are determined to find out. Domestic complications include Barnaby getting a new suit.

Episode 2, “The Sword of Guillaume” – Barnaby gets a chance to escape Midsomer (and Joyce’s cooking) and visit his cousin, another Detective Chief Inspector, John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) at the seaside in Brighton. But like Hercule Poirot, wherever Barnaby goes, murder seems to follow. The cousins cross swords with the indomitable Lady Matilda (Janet Suzman) and land developer Hugh Dalgleish (Tim McInnerny) as they investigate a shady real estate deal, missing antique swords, and a grisly beheading.

Hughes and Nettles dress the part in "Blood on the Saddle"

Disc Two:

Episode 3, “Blood on the Saddle” – The quirkiest episode in the set, featuring a Wild West Society in the heart of the Midsomer village of Ford Florey. Be prepared for a shootout before Barnaby and Jones can solve this series of murders. It’s certainly a colorful episode, with a drowning of a “witch” (Emma Cooke) at a local fairground, and lots of Wild West paraphernalia. Guest stars include Barry Jackson, Caroline Langrishe, and Malcolm Storry.

Episode 4, “The Silent Land” – Joyce is haunted, believing that she has hit and killed someone as she was driving through the Midsomer village of March Magna. A body is found in the local cemetery — the extremely unpopular local librarian. But it isn’t clear if he died there or was brought there. Barnaby not only has to solve this mystery but also determine what really happened so that he can ease Joyce’s mind. Adding to the confusion and atmosphere are a local ghost walks tour guide (Danny Webb), and the spooky, old, closed tuberculosis sanatorium.

As Barnaby, John Nettles is a wonderful combination of frustration, caring, and smarts. He seems as surprised and upset at the mayhem around him as the audience, which helps pull viewers into the story. The villages of Midsomer are as beautiful and idyllic as ever — at least from the outside, and especially in these sharp, Blu-ray images. Midsomer may not be a place you would want to live — it’s simply too dangerous — but it’s a delightful place to visit and play armchair detective.

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