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DVD Review: Midsomer Murders, Set Twelve

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Beware! English country living can be hazardous to your health. You don't have to tell the residents of Midsomer County, where murder is a common occurrence.

Midsomer Murders is an English mystery television series based on the Chief Inspector Barnaby novels of Caroline Graham. It stars John Nettles as Chief Inspector Barnaby and Jason Hughes as Detective Constable Ben Jones. The series, now in its eleventh season, began airing in the UK in 1997. It aired on the Biography Channel in the US until late 2007 and is currently airing on TV Ontario in Canada, as well as in numerous other countries.

Midsomer Murders, Set 12 from Acorn Media features four episodes from the second half of season nine, which aired in 2006. It is a boxed set; each episode is contained on a single DVD housed in a slim jacket. Each DVD runs 100 minutes; each is in color, stereo, widescreen, and has subtitles. Extras included in the set are 50th episode production notes, text interviews with the stars, a biography of Caroline Graham, and cast filmographies. The episodes included in the set are: "Four Funerals and A Wedding," a story that highlights a long-standing battle between the sexes which culminates in the yearly Skimmington Fayre; "Country Matters," in which a small town is divided over the building of a supermarket; "Death in Chorus," in which a member of a choir is murdered; and "Last Year's Model" (which was the 50th episode of the series), in which a woman goes on trial for murdering her best friend.

The relationship between Chief Inspector Barnaby and his assistant, Detective Constable Ben Jones is an entertaining one. The constable gets all the menial and difficult jobs, but keeps a good sense of humor about it. He is not treated as an equal by Barnaby, but he is not talked down to either. Also, the interplay between the Chief and his family is always enjoyable. The episodes themselves are very well done and are not overly predictable. There is just the right amount of tension and humor in each episode. The series will appeal to fans of the Miss Marple stories and other rural mystery stories. Watching these DVDs is a very enjoyable and comforting way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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