Plot: What’s it about?
The countryside of Midsomer County should be idyllic, a beautiful rural landscape that looks serene and uneventful. But as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) could tell you, things might seem peaceful, but darkness lurks even in this kind of scenic locale. The area is home to numerous villages, each with their own quirks and customs and when a crime occurs, Barnaby is dispatched to uncover the truth. Barnaby is a good detective who enjoys his profession, but he also has a good home life, with a loving wife and daughter in his life. When he is called to solve the crimes, he uses standard deductive reasoning and his years of experience to put together the pieces. But even in Midsomer County, the crimes can be complex and have roots that run deep, so even Barnaby has to dig around quite a bit to find answers. Can Barnaby solve another round of Midsomer’s darkest deeds, or will the evil remain hidden behind well kept hedges and gardens?
This is indeed the fifth set of Midsomer Murders, but in an odd twist, the show’s first season is included. So this might be the fifth volume, but the content covers the first season’s four episodes, plus the pilot episode. I believe the reason for this is some kind of rights concern, but whatever the cause, at least we have these episodes. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen of Midsomer Murders to this point, so I was looking forward to seeing how it all began. These episodes serve as a great introduction to Barnaby and the Midsomer locales. I was pleased to find that not much has changed since these first episodes, perhaps a tweak here and there, but for the most part, this is the same Midsomer Murders I’ve seen much later in the run. The stories are well crafted and tightly wound, while John Nettles nails his role right out of the gate. I had fun going back to the start of Midsomer Murders, so if you’re a fan of detective shows, give this one a chance.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 non anamorphic widescreen. To my knowledge, this is the only set to not have anamorphic transfers, but the shows still look decent. A few instances of jagged edges and shimmering do surface, so this isn’t quite as refined as the rest of the series. The image is still bright and clean, but softness is a slight concern, so detail is a little off. No issues with colors or contrast however, so that is good news. In the end, these episodes look fine, but anamorphic transfers could have taken care of the few issues that do arise.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is rather basic, but all the needs of the material are covered. This is a dialogue driven show, so there isn’t much need for expansive presence or dynamic range. The elements sound clear and natural, from the music to the sound effects. The main element is dialogue and it sounds flawless, no volume or clarity issues to mention. Not the kind of soundtrack you’ll rave about, but it gets the job done and that is what matters.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes a map of Midsomer, production notes, a profile of author Caroline Graham, and profiles on prominent cast members