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Midsomer Murders, Set 22(TV) (2012)
Homicide, blackmail, greed, and betrayal: just a taste of what goes on behind the well-trimmed hedges of Midsomer County. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, "the best detective writer since Agatha Christie" (Sunday Times, UK), this British series is deliciously sinister and darkly humorous.
For more about Midsomer Murders, Set 22 and the Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray release, see Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on July 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: John Nettles, Neil Dudgeon, Jason Hughes
» See full cast & crew
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, July 23, 2013
The back half of Midsomer Murders' fourteenth season (or "series", as the British call it) completed actor Neil Dudgeon's transition into the show's lead and the fitting of his character, DCI John Barnaby, into the big shoes left by the retirement of his cousin Tom Barnaby, the former DCI for Causton's Criminal Investigation Divsion (or C.I.D.) in the fictional rural county of Midsomer, where evil lurks behind every manicured hedge. Aiding the Chief Inspector's assimilation is the arrival of a fresh-faced coroner, Dr. Kate Wilding (Tamzin Malleson), who replaces the recently retired Dr. Bullard. Now Barnaby has a chance to cultivate a working relationship with someone who is even newer than he is. Dr. Wilding immediately lets Barnaby know that she is his kind of professional. When pressed to offer a guess about something at a crime scene, she refuses. "Amateurs guess", she crisply retorts. "And then they apologize afterwards." Midsomer County continues to be a hotbed of greed, deceit and homicidal mania. Barnaby and his impatient sergeant, DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), never lack for work. For an overview of Midsomer Murders and its history, see the review of Set 19, the first set released on Blu-ray.
The Sleeper Under the Hill (disc 1) Sept. 21, 2011 The town of Midsomer Mow contains an ancient stone circle similar to Stonehenge that is considered sacred to the local cult of New Dawn Druids. Unfortunately for the Druids, the circle sits on land owned by Alex Preston (Justin Shevlin), who intends to fence off the circle and plow the land. The result has been a dispute of great local notoriety, but the conflict ends abruptly when Preston is found early one morning disemboweled and laid out in the middle of the stone circle. The person who finds the body is a local vagrant and poacher named Evan Jago (Richard Leaf). The town constable, Sergeant Gibson (Lee Ross), happens to be an old friend of Jones, and he acts as guide to the investigators from Causton C.I.D. The Druids are obvious suspects, especially their leaders, Leticia Clifford (Susan Brown) and Ezra Canning (Alan Williams), both of whom have publicly expressed their disagreement with Preston. But other possibilities present themselves when Mrs. Preston (Claudia Harrison) cannot be found for several days after her husband's death and, upon reappearing, gives shifty explanations of her whereabouts. Meanwhile, Barnaby is trying to understand the intensity of local interest in the ancient history of Midsomer Mow, and he seeks assistance from a resident, Caradoc Singer (Robert Pugh), who is an amateur history buff. The Druids seem to be looking for new evidence regarding the sites and burial grounds of ancient battles, but Singer dismisses their efforts as fantasy. The mysteries in Midsomer Murders thrive on buried secrets, but usually they relate in some obvious fashion to the events we have been following for the preceding hour or so. "The Sleeper Under the Hill" is notable for having its solution come from an entirely unexpected direction—except that it's not unexpected, because the writer of the episode, David Lawrence (who penned the superb "Blood in the Saddle" for Series 13), has planted an early clue that is so out of character with the rest of the proceedings that it sticks out begging to be noticed. "The Sleeper Under the Hill" is worth watching for its characters and the arrival of the new coroner, but as a mystery it's disappointing. The Night of the Stag (disc 1) Oct. 12, 2011 The second episode in the set marks a welcome return to form with a classic Midsomer Murders tale of English countryside gothic. It begins when a man from the Inland Revenue (the British equivalent of the IRS) named Peter Slim (Richard Bradshaw) disappears. Slim was known to be seeking the whereabouts of an illegal distillery somewhere in the woods outside the town of Midsomer Abbas, and Barnaby and Jones make routine inquiries among the townspeople on May 1, which happens to be the town's annual joint festival with the neighboring town of Midsomer Herne celebrating their many centuries of cooperation in apple farming. Cider flows liberally, and Barnaby gets so caught up in the spirit that he buys a jar of locally produced honey from an elderly beekeeper, Byron Street (Bernard Lloyd). As Barnaby observes the festival rituals, which include an elaborate dance by participants wearing stag antlers, he comments to the local vicar, Rev. Walker (Andrew Havil), that the celebration seems more pagan than Christian. Rev. Walker agrees but explains that historically the Christian church found it practical simply to assimilate the ancient Celtic rites rather than try to suppress them. Indeed, when the ceremonial antlers aren't in use, they hang in the local chapel as decorations. Unfortunately for the participants, however, this year's festival suffers two major disruptions. The first is an invasion by a militant temperance league lead by a religious zealot, the Rev. Norman Grigor. The other is the sudden discovery of the body of the missing Revenue man in circumstances that are both bizarre and stomach-turning. Barnaby orders the area secured as a crime scene, and reinforcements from headquarters in Causton begin processing the evidence. Dr. Wilding concludes that the victim was shaken until his neck was broken in several places, by a large and powerful individual, much like a giant. Investigation of Peter Slim's death is hampered by a tight-lipped attitude in Midsomer Abbas toward outsiders. Even the otherwise talkative Byron Street refuses to help. "Ask the trees", he tells Barnaby. By following up on the deceased Slim's leads, Jones easily tracks down the illegal still and arrests its operator, a bear of a man named Silas Trout (Stephen Marcus). But Trout won't talk and, other than his size, nothing connects him to Peter Slim's murder. The wealthy owner of the local cider mill, Anthony Devereaux (Patrick Ryecart), to whom all the local farmers sell their crop, behaves oddly, such that suspicions are aroused even in his long-time secretary and bookkeeper, Alice Quested (Eleanor Yates), daughter of the local pub owner and leading town citizen, Samuel Quested (Warren Clarke, who, as a young man, played Dim in A Clockwork Orange). Devereaux has never been popular in Midsomer Abbas; though his family has lived there for hundreds of years, he's still considered an outsider, having descended from Norman invaders, as the name suggests. The farmers refer to him as "the French". Barnaby keeps trying to talk to both Alice and her friend from Midsomer Herne, Esme Baker (Natalie Klamar), daughter of a bawdy kennel owner named Chloe (Denise Black), who has her eye on the widower Samuel Quested. With his usual policeman's attention to people's behavior, Barnaby can't help but notice that Esme seems unusually distraught by Peter Slim's death, while most of her fellow citizens are unconcerned, if not downright pleased, that a Revenue man has met an untimely demise. But the locals keep coming between the detectives and their inquiries, and one senses that it's only a matter of time before Barnaby and Jones find themselves surrounded by an angry mob threatening violence. By that point, though, Barnaby has taken Byron Street's advice and talked to the trees, and Jones has done other research. Between them, they've uncovered motives more basic than ancient country rituals.
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray, Video Quality
As with Set 21, which contained the first half of what the British consider "Series 14" of Midsomer Murders, Acorn Media has provided the episodes with 1080p encoding, thereby continuing the superior video quality from Set 21 into Set 22. With two AVC-encoded 90-minute (approximately) episodes per BD-25 disc, Acorn has achieved a remarkable and consistent image despite the high degree of compression. Detail is excellent, colors are natural and bright, and there is no sign of video noise or aliasing, such as occasionally appeared on earlier sets formatted at 1080i. Even the end credits, which were of poor quality on Set 21, are vastly improved. These most recent two sets of Midsomer Murders represent TV on Blu-ray as it should be done.
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Provided in lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0, the sound design for Midsomer Murders continues to be basic and functional, with emphasis on dialogue and sparing use of music. The Blu-ray's track conveys the dialogue clearly, and Jim Parker's signature theme continues to provide the appropriately macabre note of fascination, especially in the signature theremin version that opens and closes most episodes.
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As of this writing, Acorn Media is preparing to re-release the first five series of Midsomer Murders on DVD in their original broadcast order, but with no Blu-ray release on the horizon. Presumably the expense of returning to the 16mm film sources of these early episodes for rescanning and remastering has been deemed too high, which is unfortunate. The world of Midsomer Murders was defined by these early cases, and the effort to reformulate that world with new characters can only be fully appreciated within that context. Misfires such as "The Sleeper Under the Hill" and "A Sacred Trust" are to be expected when a long-running series undergoes fundamental change, but they would be easier to accept if Acorn would accelerate the pace of bringing one of its most popular series to high definition. The show in general remains highly recommended, as does the technical quality of Set 22. The episodes themselves are a mixed lot.
Midsomer Murders: Other Seasons
Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Midsomer Murders, Set 22 Blu-ray - May 21, 2013
Acorn Media has announced the 2-disc Blu-ray release of Midsomer Murders, Set 22, which includes four mysteries from the British television series, based on the books by Caroline Graham. Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) returns to Blu-ray on August ...
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