Midsomer Murders – the Early Cases comprises the first eighteen cases of this popular series, set in the quaint little villages, moldering manor houses and cottage real estate to die for of a mythical English county. The series stars off being based on the best-selling mysteries of Caroline Graham; intricate and atmospheric, set in the modern British countryside. Classical English cozies with a wickedly modern twist; the sleuth is not Miss Marple, with a penchant for knitting and uncovering evil over the teacups and under the thatched roofs, but by a solid professional; the admirably decent Inspector Barnaby and his sidekick, Sgt Troy.

This series is the perfect cuppa for anyone who loves a certain flavor of Brit-TV. My daughter and I savored our watching of this series like we would savor consumption of a box of designer chocolates: one and a time and relishing every delicious nibble, from the misty green landscapes to the real-estate ad visions of perfection in the various locations. (And many guest appearances by well-known Brit acting talent, too.) Never did the English countryside look so gorgeous… and never did the intrusion of bloody murder seem so perverse. You see it all if you watch carefully in a small village, as Miss Marple so cogently observed – every sort of wickedness and perversion, every sort of kink, personal, sexual, financial, from voyeurism to incest, country dancing and an unseemly interest in Punch and Judy.

One of the charming counter-points to all of this professionally observed mayhem is Inspector Barnaby’s wryly realistic outlook, as well as his perfectly normal and happy family life; his wife is loving and a perfectly awful cook, his daughter Cully is an actress – providing a knowledgeable entry into all sorts of small-village shenanigans, as well as insight into a some different and amazingly peculiar cases. And how very pleasant it is to have a detective hero who is not a bundle of angst and dysfunction, who has a loving and satisfactory family life. These days that counts as a shockingly novel and original twist.

The best of the extras to this set is a documentary “Super Sleuths” that takes a long look at the first decade of the long-running series, including interviews with stars (regular and guest variety), producers, TV writers as well as Caroline Graham, who originated the series with seven very good novels. Practically every top-flight and well-known British actor has made a guest appearance in this series; watch for Orlando Bloom, who comes to a sticky end in one episode.

“Midsomer Murders” is available through Acornmedia.com

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here, and her upcoming “Adelsverein Trilogy” will be available in December, 2008. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

Be Sociable, Share!