Sunday, August 28, 2011

Midsomer Murders

I have Netflix as streaming video beside the machine as I sew and have been filling up on the British mystery series, Midsomer Murders.

Now this may be old-hat to most of you but with me I am always invariably late to the prom. I started watching Seinfeld and Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, big hits back in their day, when they had about one season left to run. Always years behind everyone else, that's me.

So this Midsomer murders was very novel a few weeks ago when I stumbled across it. Great fun. DCI Barnaby is married to a most understanding wife who fills her days as a volunteer, shows up at every costumed "town event" and gets wrapped up in a few of the murders. Their only daughter, Cully, is an actress perpetually in search of a role and also volunteers throughout the county and remarkably is well informed of the goings on in any deviant village because that week she happens to man the mobile library. Or is working as a temp secretary for a hot-shot, or lands a spot hauling horses around town. And every time Father and Daughter see each other, you'd think they hadn't just had breakfast together that morning ."Cully!" he cries and gives a big hug, kiss on the cheek.

What I liked about it in the beginning was the scenery. All the action takes place in a mythical county in England. The shops and buildings line quaint, slim, curving streets; no-one is ever in a particular hurry; homes are usually either very grand or if not, they are thatched roofed and Tudor-styled. This is what you have heard referred to as "chocolate box"quintessentially English homes (or at the very least the way I think of as English) . Nothing is out of place, no mess or garbage bins. Lovely flowers. Trimmed hedges. Get the picture? Even cars are new. And washed.

Oh!, and all the people who live here are white, over 40, and can't stop killing each other. There is usually someone(s) terribly rich and "above" it all (or better yet, titled), the middle-class and finally those who live on the fringes of 'society'. And don't believe for a moment that any of them wouldn't kill to get what they want.

Now, the county may be Midsomer but the towns in the county have lovely evocative names: Midsomer Mallow, Midsomer Newton, Fletcher's Cross and the popular Badger's Drift. Wouldn't you want to be murdered somewhere named Badger's Drift?

Here is where it gets interesting. The murders are done in the most amazing techniques. Far be it for anyone in Midsomer to simply slit a throat or push an old lady down a flight of stairs. Oh wait... they did do that as well.

No, here in Midsomer, a terrific method for murder would be to drug your victim first, then tether him down to the ground with croquet wickets (naturally) and lob wine bottles at him with a medieval catapult. Ingenious! I would never have imagined THAT!

Or, if that takes too much planning, how about ramming a pitchfork through a chair? Drown someone in a cauldron of tomato soup? I especially didn't picture this one aged Russian (female) spy who knew some fancy jujitsu moves. (Note to self: never, ever, sneak up on an old lady in Midsomer Worthy).

And this one: Smash a man with a forklift full of bottled chutney, then scald him in the 200 degree bath to clean him up.

Once the first murder has been discovered and Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby shows up to take statements, the murderer's associates start dropping like flies! I mean, if you lived anywhere in Midsomer and someone turns up murdered, you better leave town because no one is safe! Pretty soon, there aren't going be many people to kill at the rate they're going!

His 'second', Deputy Inspector fill-in-the-blank, is usually a few steps behind this weathered master of all that is inscrutable. Barnaby's on the case, you're days of freedom are numbered!

I sound snarky but I do enjoy these episodes. Mostly because I never know what's going to happen next and can't guess who the true villan will be in the end. That, and the fact that each episode is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Oh! Gotta go... another one just queued up!

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