It is hard to know where to start in discussing this British TV series that began in 1997. Maybe a quick history lesson would be a good beginning. In the 60’s and 70’s (I know because I lived there) there were only two choices that a a viewer had, the BBC and the rather brash ITV. The Beeb was funded by the government by way of a TV license fee, if you owned a TV, it was important to have the correct piece of paper should a TV detector van stop at your house. As I recall, there were two levels of license, B/W (Black and White) and the more expensive Color one.
ITV on the other hand financed their programing via advertising. There was a huge disparity in program quality. The Beeb had the money for serious full production drama series, many of which made it over the pond and aired on Masterpiece Theater. ITV just kept plugging away at what they knew best, cheap and cheerful programs.
By 1997 the tide had changed, Midsomer Murders hit the airwaves. It was not in the usual 40 minute plus 20 minute advertising package to fill a 60 minute slot. Midsomer Murders was a full blown theatrical production. Each episode was 90 minutes, a made for TV movie, the photography and acting quality is spectacular.
According to research Midsomer Murders is in its 23rd season. I have only made my way through the first part of season 7. This means I still have a ways to go!
Midsomer is a fictional county in southern England, but it is almost certainly set in Wallingford, Henley On Thames and some nearby villages. Where it moves into its own are the subjects that are explored. Modern hit TV police series almost always rely on forensic science. Sure, there is an element of that, but it plays ‘second fiddle’ to the mental game.
The series finds its roots in the books written by author Caroline Graham, those plots have been long since exhausted, however the series writers most certainly have continued to maintain her creative style.
I have yet to watch an episode that I have not been sucked into. Midsomer Murders is a time destroying endeavor. I am trying to limit myself to one episode a day, but the series is more addictive than drugs! One particular day I watched 5 episodes, before I realized it, 8 hours had slipped from my grasp!
At the center of the action is Chief Detective Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) of the Midsomer CID. At his side for the first several seasons was Sgt Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey). Troy is young, keen, and has an eye for a pretty girl, including Barnaby’s daughter.
The plots in Midsomer Murders are fabulous, but it is the human relationships that make it truly outstanding. While each episode deals with a completely different crime there is this wonderful continuity of characters.
There is little doubt about why this series has been so popular for so long. Imported from the UK by distributor Acorn it is high time that it receives the attention here in the US that it justly deserves.
I will give you a tease that I found on Youtube, the very first episode…
There are lots of DVD’s available, I recommend that you start with the Amazon link above it is a good starting spot, or visit Acorn.