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DVD Review: Midsomer Murders – Set 11

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The Show

Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, Midsomer Murders is a quirky British murder mystery in the same vein as Perry Mason or Columbo. In the villages of Midsomer county, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and Detective Constable Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) track down murderers.

The show follows the same type of formula as other murder mystery shows have done over the years. Asking around the village, meeting a wide variety of characters, all who have a motive for killing, but only one is the true killer. It’s never the person they make you think it is, and the twist at the end reveals everything.

Midsomer Murders is beautifully shot, and gives a beautiful representation of the English countryside. Nettles plays a great unflustered senior detective, and Hughes is perfect as his eager yet loyal companion.

Each episode offers a wide array of quirky characters, which is the mainstay of the television murder mystery, here in America or across the pond. I liked the characters, but felt like each episode, approximately 100 minutes each, is a little too long for a show like this. It’s hard to commit the time to watch a 100 minute TV show, when there are plenty of other murder mystery shows out there that wouldn’t eat up so much time.

Questions arise though, when you think this is set 11 of Midsomer Murders, and if there have already been ten sets of this show, how does this small English county have any residents left?

The DVDs

This set contains four episodes each approximately 100 minutes long: “The Haunted House in the Woods,” “Dead Letters,” “Vixen’s Run,” and “Down Among the Dead Men.”

Each disc also contains a scene index, and fully interactive menus. The first disc has a few special features on it, including fascinating facts like where scenes were filmed and the names of the villages in Midsomer County.

The Quality

The episodes are presented in 16.9 widescreen format and look great. Like I said before, the English countryside is presented perfectly here. The widescreen allows for extended viewing of the lush, green rolling hills of England.

The quaint country cottages and buildings of England are also something that is filmed really well. I loved to look at and study the buildings while watching the show. Having lived over there for two years, it was a big bit of nostalgia for me.

The Packaging

The discs are packed in four slim cases, each disc containing one episode. The slim discs are packed into a nice cardboard box with some very colorful art work. These sets that Acorn Media is coming out with are fantastic to look at and are very nice worthwhile discs to own.

Ending Thoughts

I enjoyed this show. It’s a great depiction of solid English television. However, I thought the episodes were a little too long for their own good. If they were cut down to 90 or even 60 minutes, these episodes would be very enjoyable. It’s not to say that they aren’t entertaining, it’s just that at 100 minutes you have to set aside as much time as you would for a feature length film.

If you’re looking for a great representation of classic British television then this is it. Midsomer Murders is not for everyone, but it has its audience in those people who love the quirky British way of making shows. I enjoyed it immensely and I hope more people will.

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  • MonicaS

    Hi. Great review of the DVD set. I just want to comment on your critique about the length. I thought it was funny that among your wishes you wanted the episodes to be no more than 90 minutes long. Well, guess what? They are roughly 90 minutes.

    When these episodes were made, the production company decided to cut back on the length from 100 minutes to about 93 (but that’s including the ending credits. It’s still about 90 without them).

    Acorn just copied or assumed from previous releases, which were 100 minutes. :)

    So while you thought they were longer and wished them to be 90 minutes, they actually were. :)

  • Aaron

    Thanks for your comment.

    But, like I said “90 or even 60 minutes.” 60 minutes would be a much more palatable time for this show.

  • Christina

    I wonder if that’s an American thing. We can’t have anything too long, our attention spans are just too short for that. Think of this series, and other BBC series that last longer than 60 mins per episode as an enjoyable book. The more BBC shows you watch the more you’ll see how they operate outside of this country. I have fallen in love with BBC tv and rent any dvd I can get that’s not American, just to have a different style of tv watching.

  • Aaron

    I have actually watched quite a few BBC series, and British TV shows.

    What I was getting at was not “I wish the Brits would make their shows shorter just for me.” I was merely saying that a show with this kind of plot and formula would be better suited for a 60 minute show, rather than the 90-100 mintues that it is.

    I love British TV shows, and mini series. Take a look at my review of Mobile. I just thought “Midsomer Murders” had a concept that would be better suited for a shorter time period. Kind of like when you watch a comedy at the theaters that’s longer than 90 minutes, it seems to drag on. Or when the American “The Office” had it’s hour long episodes, it was just too long for what the show was.

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