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Midsomer Murders: Set 18

Release Year:   2009
Studio:   Acorn Media
Format:   Colour; NTSC
Rated:   Not Rated
# of Discs:   3
Running Time:   300 m + bonus
DVD Release Date:   September 6, 2011

Creator:   Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham
Actors:   John Nettles, Jane Wymark, Barry Jackson, Jason Hughes
DVD Features:   Interview with Jason Hughes (23 min); SDH subtitles
E: Top Picks Rating:   10/10

Acorn Media Write-up: 
Available to U.S. audiences for the first time with this release, MIDSOMER MURDERS: SET 18 debuts on DVD with three new, contemporary, stand-alone mysteries from the top-selling British mystery franchise. Fan favorite John Nettles (“Bergerac”) returns as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby in these engrossing full-length mysteries set in England’s picture-perfect but perilous Midsomer County. Set 18 includes three mysteries never before seen in the U.S., along with a bonus 23 min. interview with star Jason Hughes.

The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars John Nettles as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (“This Life”) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. Guest stars include Margaret Tyzack (“Match Point”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”), Jenny Agutter (“The Invisibles”), Nickolas Grace (“Robin of Sherwood”, “My Family”), Caroline Blakiston (‘Brass”, “The Avengers”), Paul Shelley (“Doctor Who”), and Paul Chapman (“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”).

The Mysteries: Small Mercies—A cat burglar’s robberies expose the dark secrets of a prominent family; The Creeper—Little Worthing’s model village is the highlight of its tourism trade—until a dead body disfigures it; The Great and the Good—A village school’s possible closing leads to murder, mayhem, and a sleepwalking schoolteacher.

Jon Ted Wynne Review: 
Fans of MIDSOMER MURDERS will know that the great John Nettles has left the series, although it remains in production in the U.K. This makes the remaining episodes that Acorn Media is still, thankfully, releasing to North Americans, all that much more to be savoured.

The three mysteries here, “Small Mercies”; “The Creeper”; and “The Great & The Good”, continue the standard of excellence one expects from this hallmark British program.

Two of the episodes are particularly good, with “Small Mercies” providing a brilliant return to some of the more creative ways of committing murder that were so delightfully evident in the first episodes of the series.

By now the chemistry between Nettles and co-star Jason Hughes (as DS Ben Jones) is perfect and one really can’t find anything to critique.

Even the best shows have the naysayers, though, and recently MIDSOMER MURDERS came under attack as having an agenda that does not represent visible minorities often enough. In other words, the concern about the show (to some people) is that it is “white bread”.

The producer of MIDSOMER MURDERS, Brian True-May, responded to the criticism. stating that the show is predicated on English eccentricities, and this requires a certain traditional English look in the localities they focus on, namely the fictional villages and boroughs of Midsomer. One can imagine the storm of protest in this politically-correct age!

It could be argued that rather than having an agenda, the show has a lack of an agenda – no political or social commentary, just fun stories and great characters in picturesque settings. Controversy or no, the fact remains that each and every episode of MIDSOMER MURDERS has been and continues to be wonderfully entertaining stuff.

And isn’t that what really counts?

There are eight more episodes featuring John Nettles before he retires and is replaced on the show by his “cousin,” Neil Dudgeon.  Enjoy them while you can in MIDSOMER MURDERS: SET 18.

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