So it's 4 am in the morning and I am bored of playing Mass Effect. Then it occurs to me that I really want to watch an episode of Midsomer Murders. But more than that, I'd like to tell you fine folks about it. Only I don't believe there are enough MM fans here to justify an entire thread, so if you wish to discuss other British TV shows here, that is also fine.
What is Midsomer Murders?
Midsomer Murders is a detective drama. It was originally based on a series of books by Caroline Graham. The TV show proved to be so popular, however, that it has grown far beyond the book series. In fact it is now in its 12th season, which is pretty amazing for a feature-length show (each episode is a full 100 minutes long).
The show is set in the fictitious county of Midsomer. It is a typical, idyllic English county, full of rustic villages and rolling green hills. It also has the most ridiculously high death rate; so ridiculous that even the characters in the show itself have been known to comment on it.
Who does it star?
The main character is DCI Tom Barnaby:
He's genial, forward-thinking, and he's exceptionally good at his job.
Over the 12 years the show has aired he has had a number of deputies, the first, and longest-serving, of whom was Sgt Gavin Troy:
In contrast to Barnaby Troy was a bit of a bigot, but he had a good heart and he was definitely the best deputy. He also had a crush on Barnaby's daughter, Cully:
That's Cully and her mother, Joyce Barnaby. They occasionally bring cases to Barnaby's attention, and have even helped solve them, albeit unintentionally. They're also the only other cast members guaranteed not to meet a sticky end.
Why does it work?
Don't ask me! Midsomer Murders manages to combine amiable and comfortable characters and settings with some of the most gruesome murders available. Not to mention that the motives behind those murders are usually very dark and murky, too. Heck, in the first episode of the show you have a selfish, incestuous brother-and-sister couple who murder just because they feel like it. There's even an episode where an eight-year-old girl kills her nanny in cold blood with a knife before tucking herself up in bed. (Don't worry, that's not a spoiler - it happens in the opening five minutes).
It's comfortingly formulaic without being too predictable or boring. Sometimes it is obvious who the murderer is but most of the time it's surprising. It's also fun to try and guess who the next victim will be, too. There's usually only one murder in the first hour, but then things get heated and by the end there's usually a body-count of four-five victims.
Guest stars! And writers!
Some of the best-known TV writers have contributed to the show. The first few were written by Anthony Horowitz; the author of several award-winning children's novels as well as the very popular drama Foyle's War and more than a few Poirot adaptations.
Midsomer Murders has also launched the careers of many stars, including Emily Mortimer (she was the incestuous sister) and Orlando Bloom (he was speared with a pitchfork, you'll be pleased to hear).
When it's not launching new careers, Midsomer Murders happily revives old ones. Each episode is a Who's who of veteran British TV and film actors.
Mostly Midsomer Murders is just so terribly British
. If you ever wondered what life in the old country is like this show pretty much sums it up, that is, minus the body count.
Oh, and in case you are now inspired to watch this show (I hope a few of you are), the DVDs are readily available on Netflix.
Or, of course, you could watch something else. I think Mori and I are about to start watching Coupling and Peep Show. I hear good things about those two!