quick review - Midsomer Murders

Note: The following review of this British murder mystery series is based on the first four series. I've just started with series 5.

Based on books by Caroline Graham, a typical episode of Midsomer Murders follows the beats of a slasher film, only one that is dressed up in the respectable Sunday clothes veneer of a British murder mystery. Stories almost invariably leave a body count by murderers with a particularly vicious streak. Yet, unlike slashers in the horror genre, episodes don’t dwell on the gruesome anatomy of the murders or on extended sequences of torture, but on the character dramas that underlie them. Coupled with the quintessential whodunit, through the affable Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) and his uncouth partner Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), the episodes offer compelling, often lurid, but always human mysteries as dissected by the series’ highly likable police protagonists. The David Lynch-like motif of dread underlying the seemingly idyllic, and occasionally comic, county of Midsomer (a piece of fictional geography) is arguably a distinct feature of the series, delivered straight-up without a hint of surrealistic shenanigans. Most of all, this masterful program, hampered only by a tendency for formula, is a contemporary continuation of Agatha Christie’s work.

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