What better way to ring in the New Year than with murder? Midsomer Murders: Barnaby's Casebook compiles 17 feature-length episodes of the popular British television series. The episodes, which span 2001-2004, were previously released by Acorn as sets 4, 6, 7, and 8.
For those not familiar with the Midsomer series, think of it as Murder, She Wrote set in the British countryside, with a likable middle-aged Detective Chief Inspector instead of a likable elderly mystery writer. The series, which has been on since 1997, is based on the Detective Barnaby series of mysteries by British writer Caroline Graham.
The episodes all center around murders in quaint country villages that inevitably escalate into multiple homicides. Each episode explores different elements of village life, and a different cast of eccentric characters. While the murders play a central role in each episode, it is the characters who are the real strength of the series. John Nettles' extremely likable Inspector Barnaby is the backbone of the show, and part of the pleasure of watching a Midsomer Murder is seeing how he navigates the situation, and how he comes to the inevitable conclusion. He is supported by Jane Wymark as his wife Joyce and Laura Howard as his daughter Cully, whose extra-curricular activities are often intertwined with the murder investigations. Daniel Casey played Sergeant Troy until his departure in "Birds of Prey" at the end of 2003. He was replaced by John Hopkins as the cocky Sergeant Scott, a Londoner who begrudgingly accepts his transfer to the sticks.
These regulars get support from a who's who of British character actors, including Gemma Jones, Henry Ian Cusick, and Honor Blackman. It's a treat seeing these older actors given a chance to shine once again. British viewers will find the settings, characters, and actors familiar, while North American viewers will be afforded a tour of the idyllic British countryside without the price of a plane ticket or unfavorable exchange rate.