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DVD Review: Midsomer Murders – Set 14

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To the uninitiated, Midsomer Murders is a popular British television program that, as of 2010, is in its 13th Series. Based on the works of Caroline Graham, the show follows the cases of Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), Detective Chief Inspector of Midsomer County. As the title may lead you to guess, this isn’t your average rural county. The quaint little villages and towns are lovely — as is the scenery — but there does seem to be an awful lot of murders around here. In fact, after thirteen years on the air, one of the popular running jokes for frequent Midsomer Murders is “How is it there are still people living there?”

Once again, a collection of Midsomer County’s finest give in to their primal, homicidal urges in Midsomer Murders – Set 14, which has DCI Barnaby — along with his (newer) Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) — trekking all the way to Wales and back, in search of clues, killers, and maybe (just maybe), some peace and quiet for a day).

While Set 14 probably isn’t a great place for a newbie to start (some of the episodes are just “OK”), it won’t take long for a recruit to get the hang of the show or be able to relate to the main characters. One of the most appealing aspects of the show is that the main character, DCI Barnaby, is an average man. Caroline Graham’s creation does not have to rely on any quirks, phobias, or addictions to make him interesting. He’s an honest, good-natured copper who has developed his keen sense of observation and deduction from his many years as a detective.

Set 14 brings us the final half (four feature-length episodes) of Series 10 (which was originally broadcast in 2007), packed nicely into four separate slim cases. The set opens with “Death And Dust,” wherein a prominent doctor suddenly becomes the target of an unknown assassin when he proposes to a wealthy widow. Next up is “Picture Of Innocence,” a rather humorous entry in which a group of older traditional film photographers clash with a younger set of digital camera enthusiasts over which format is better. Naturally, murder falls into play.

A film crew comes to Midsomer to shoot an adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel in “They Seek Him Here,” but the production gets tangled up in a police investigation when a beheaded corpse is discovered one morning in the film’s prop guillotine. Finally in this set is “Death In A Chocolate Box,” where in a halfway house for ex-cons becomes the focus of Barnaby’s attention when an old colleague of his (who was running the facility) is found dead. Red Dwarf fans take note: this episode features Chris Barrie as a murder suspect.

Acorn Media’s release of Midsomer Murders – Set 14 presents each episode in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The video quality here is very nice, with no noticeable defects to distract viewers. Audio is provided in the way of an English Stereo track, which comes through sufficiently. English (SDH) subtitles are included with this release — a practice that Acorn Media only recently adopted.

Aside from a few promos for other Acorn Media releases and a Caroline Graham bio, there are really no extras to be found here. Some fans may roll their eyes over this, while others tend to get frustrated over the half-series issues. The rest of us, however, will simply rejoice that there’s another fun set of murderous mayhem to be watched.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.