“What evil lurks beyond the well-trimmed hedges of Midsomer…”
Midsomer Murders: Set 23 is a collection of three episodes from the 15th season of Midsomer Murders, the long-running British crime drama. Within Midsomer County murder abounds, and it’s up to Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon, Life of Riley) and Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes, This Life) to figure out the suspects and reveal which one is in fact the perpetrator. This isn’t a buddy comedy nor does it contain romance of any kind. Instead, it’s purely a crime drama, and as such the writers focus on the journey from the inception of the crime to the final arrest. And they do it very well, engaging viewers with any number of characters who could’ve conceivably pulled off the crime in question. That’s the biggest strength of Midsomer Murders: each mystery presents a plausible array of suspects, allowing the audience to truly enjoy the detectives’ process. This set’s collection of episodes is extremely straightforward, keeping the pace brisk and only unraveling the whodunit within the last 10 to 15 minutes.
Midsomer Murders: Set 23 boasts quality acting in addition to its excellent writing. When there is humor, it is very droll and the action feeds the story. It’s a great show for people who simply want to watch a straightforward crime drama from start to finish with no muss and no fuss.
The episodes are as follows:
“The Dark Rider”
Sightings of a headless horseman occur before a series of murders all connected to one wealthy family.
“Murder of Innocence”
When a convicted murderer returns to town, the killings begin anew, and each victim is one who helped put the murderer away.
“Death and the Divas”
Life imitates art when a series of murders seem to be inspired by a slew of 1960s horror films.
The only warning I’ll offer is the characters of DCI Barnaby and Detective Jones are fairly one note here. While well-acted as always, they aren’t so compelling as to be the reason to watch Midsomer Murders.
The video transfer is a standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I love that each episode is presented on its own disc. That means both that compression artifacting isn’t a factor as well as the bonus of each episode remaining separate should there be any issues its brethren may have on their own discs. The color timing is minimal but that fits in with the nature of the show, which isn’t at all interested in being a showpiece for the beauty of the English countryside. The audio track is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0. The dialogue occasionally goes soft, which fits in with the rather perfunctory nature of the show. However, the track isn’t asked to do much heavy lifting.
The special features include an audio commentary track for “The Dark Rider” with Neil Dudgeon and director Alex Pillai as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette for “Death and the Divas.”
Midsomer Murders: Set 23 is perfect for those seeking a straight-forward mystery with no frills.