AcornTV Original: 25 Years of Midsomer Murders

Apr 22, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

AcornTVStreaming is the new amusement, but there are so many options to consider. One needs to pick and choose carefully. Does it meet my entertainment needs? Is it a good value? Can I stream on any device? For me, AcornTV checked all the boxes. It is an Anglophile’s dream with an eclectic library of programs from the UK and beyond, from decades ago to current productions, from comedies and dramas to documentaries and foreign language. The monthly membership ($6.99), with a special annual pricing available ($69.99), fits my budget perfectly. And with access online or an app, I can enjoy my favorites anywhere on any device… like Midsomer Murders celebrating twenty-five years!

Midsomer Murders marked a major milestone: twenty-five years since it first aired in 1997 (UK), 1998 (US), with The Killings at Badger’s Drift. The iconic actor John Nettles was first to take the lead as DCI Tom Barnaby, and over his fourteen-year tenure, he was supported by his wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) and daughter Cully (Laura Howard) and mentored, often with a dry sense of humor and strict demeanor, three different partners: DC/DS Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), DS Daniel Scott (John Hopkins), and my favorite, DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). In the fourteenth season (2011), Neil Dudgeon came on board as Tom’s cousin, DCI John Barnaby. Dudgeon had first guest starred as a dubious character in Garden of Death (2000) and then appeared as John Barnaby in The Sword of Guillaume (2010). His wife Sarah (Fiona Dolman) is on hand to keep John grounded with the occasional yoga, diet, and exercise regimes, and later delivering his daughter Betty. He first partnered with DS Ben Jones, then was assigned DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee), and now, my second favorite, DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix). It’s been an extraordinary quarter of a century with this main cast, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to them yet!

AcornTV marked this astounding milestone by gathering cast members, crew, and guest stars in the Midsomer Murders: 25 Years of Mayhem (46:12) documentary, narrated by Celia Imrie, who herself had been a guest star in MM’s Dark Autumn. The show sets to “reveal the show’s dark secrets,” “bring curious insights,” and “look back at the world-famous stars who dared take their first TV steps in Midsomer County.” As the deadliest place (on television), the show is known to create very unique conflicts, complicated investigations, and over 400 murders which had the cast and crew amazed. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my favorite actors as they are now and hearing about their experiences, but there were some characters whose absence was sadly obvious. I still found it fun learning about the other international versions, translated in multiple languages, including an “on the road” filming in Denmark. Here’s to the next twenty-five years!

We go on and on … Great! Midsomer Murders aired its twenty-third season with DCI John Barnaby and DS Jamie Winter as a productive, engaging partnership, and although there is a hierarchy to their positions and division of labor, they are more like brothers than colleagues. The investigations are fascinating, if not quirky, murder mysteries that take the pair throughout Midsomer County. The murder cases challenge the team with deceptive crime scenes, multiple suspects, additional victims, and uncooperative witnesses, and some cold cases provide a few twists, turns, and misdirection. But, Barnaby always uncovers the clues to expose the killer and make the arrests. (1) In “The Blacktrees Prophecy,” a doomsday prepper is found dead in his locked bombproof shelter. (2) In “The Debt of Lies,” a retiring Detective Chief Superintendent crashes into a tree. (3) In “A Grain of Truth,” after an incident of ergot poisoning, a grain provider is killed in his silo. (4) In “Dressed to Kill,” the woman producing a domino contest is killed by a sparkly stiletto.

There are still those endearing peeks into the personal lives of Barnaby and his team which helps show more depth in the varied personalities: mother-in-law angst, joys of fatherhood, revisiting a mentor, good sport at a carnival, and narcissistic friends. My favorite extra is courtesy pathologist Dr. Fleur Perkins (Annette Badland) who shares her very colorful past making Barnaby and Winter raise a collective curious eyebrow. I just wish there were more episodes each season, but I’ll take it anyway.

Earns 5+/5 Curious Conundrums. I am a huge, huge fan of Midsomer Murders watching episodes starring both Nettles and Dudgeon multiple, multiple times, reading the novels of Caroline Graham on which the series is based, and often quoting the script or pointing to an episode to illustrate an idea. When asked if I’m Team Nettles or Team Dudgeon, I respond that I’m Team Barnaby. Sure, the two detectives are different in their professional manner and personality giving the two incarnations a different tone, and the dynamic among the characters is different in their personal connection and involvement, but the Cotswold villages, countryside residents, witty banter, humorous retorts, and complex storylines are the same. I still love it after all these years!

Be an AcornTV member! Enjoy these Dramatic Gems!

Ten Percent (2022) Based on the French hit, Call My Agent!”, this eight-season gem follows the Nightingale Hart talent agency. Among the best in its class navigating London’s high-pressure entertainment scene, it is thrust into chaos with the unexpected departure of the agency’s founder. Earns 5/5 Contract Conundrums.

Acceptable Risk (2017) This six-episode drama stars Elaine Cassidy (No Offence) as Sarah Manning who finds her world upside down when her husband is found dead in Montreal. The investigation reveals more questions than answers, and she suddenly finds herself under suspicion and under surveillance. Earns 5/5 Intense Issues.

Code of a Killer (2015) This three-episode drama tells the true story of the brilliant scientist Dr. Alec Jeffreys (John Simms; Grace, Life on Mars) and pioneering detective, DCS David Baker (David Threlfall) create the most significant advancement in modern criminal investigation: DNA fingerprinting. Earns 5/5 Scientific Surprises.

Fan Alert! Facebook has an Official AcornTV site which anyone can follow. They provide updates on new programs, countdowns to premieres, and some bonuses.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.


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