Midsomer Murders Binge Watch Update

July 11, 2019

So I’ve made it through all 19 seasons of Midsomer Murders available on Netflix. “I don’t know what to watch I guess I’ll just put on Midsomer Murders while I sort the yarn stash” has come to an end. This is going to take some adjusting.

I have thoughts. Like, watching the evolution of the show in a short amount of time is interesting. About halfway through, people of color suddenly start appearing, and the show progressively becomes more diverse. Also about halfway through, the detectives start rescuing the would-be final murder victim at the last minute, as if the showrunners realized that having three or four murders in sequence was making Barnaby & Co. look rather incompetent. How many people would live if they could just figure things out sooner?

I could rate the sergeants, that would be fun. Troy might still be my favorite and not just because he’s first, but because his personality seemed more distinct. Vaguely clueless, still awfully brave, and so on.  My least favorite is the guy who only lasted like three episodes, departed with an off-hand comment about being out sick, and was literally never spoken of again. (All the other sergeants at least get a mention, if not a future guest appearance.)

Playing “where else have I seen that actor?” is a huge amount of fun on this show, because I think just about everyone from the BBC Jane Austen films shows up sooner or later. And Doctor Who. The best was probably seeing the one with Olivia Colman right after seeing her in The Favorite.  It was also massively startling when John Nettles, aka Tom Barnaby, showed up in my binge watch of Robin of Sherwood. British acting really does seem like a tiny, tiny world sometimes.

The same themes come up over and over again. The same patterns, and I’m not sure if these are things that are actual concerns in rural British life, or if they’re common tropes in English cozy mysteries, or if they’re just things that make for easy mysteries on this particular show. The newcomer starting a business that will “destroy village life.” The landed gentry fallen on hard times and having to face selling or converting the use of the country manor. The business based on some new technology moving in and causing suspicion. A person vanished ten or twenty or fifty years ago returns. The local person become famous for art/music/writing/something and then ownership of that thing causes strife. It’s a lot of traditional conflicts of old vs. new, upper vs. lower class, and so on.

And is every pub scene filmed in the same pub or is that just me?

I think my favorite episode, or at least the one I’ve thought about the most, is “Death and Dreams,” from series 6. This is the one with the three psychopathic children who systematically and gleefully murder all their mother’s potential suitors, and then it comes out that their father did not die by accident in a mountaineering outing but was pushed. This one stuck with me I think because of the visceral horror of it. Not the blood and guts kind of horror, but the profane kind of horror. The sheer psychological ick of it.  Their mother is an old friend of Barnaby’s. The episode ends with him preparing to explain to her what has happened. We don’t get that explanation, or the reaction, on screen, which is probably for the best. But it’s that elided moment that I can’t get out of my mind. She’s a psychologist, her children–all of them–are monsters. What is she going to do with that?  The episode takes us right to the edge of that cliff, and it’s gut-turning.

This is also the episode with the obsessive marching band that made me realize that I think I understand The Prisoner much better after watching this show. Village life, indeed.

I can’t remember which episode it is, but it’s about my favorite exchange in the whole show:

Jones:  “This village is weird.”

Tom Barnaby:  “Jones, they’re all weird.”


8 Responses to “Midsomer Murders Binge Watch Update”

  1. David Davis Says:

    My wife watches this all the time. I even got her a Midsomer Murders tea tray from Acorn catalog.

  2. Jared Moloshok Says:

    Netflix also used to stream Foyle’s War, by Anthony Horowitz, who I believe was one of Midsomer Murders‘ writers/producers. It’s no longer on Netflix, but it’s definitely worth tracking down, as it manages to effortlessly combine murder mystery with little-known aspects of British WWII history (many of which not very flattering to the British homefront, either).

  3. The Auld Grump Says:

    You should know that you have destroyed a great swathe of the free time my wife and I spend together.

    She had never seen ANY of The Midsomer Murders.

    And we just got Netflix. (Okay, destroyed is not the right term – more… predetermined? 😛 )

  4. Al H. Says:

    Don’t worry there are still 2 more seasons of Midsomer. They should show up on Netflix eventually.

  5. Alison Says:

    It must be in the air- I’m midway through series 14. I dread reaching the end (again)… it says something that watching a murder show like this is calming. (;

  6. Being a Brit I have been watching these for donkeys years, aren’t they fab and quaint? John Nettles or Neil Dudgeon? 😀

  7. I am slightly addicted to Midsomer Murders. Thank goodness for PBS or BBCA or Ovation and my DVR. When I get quiet time to myself, I put Midsomer, Miss Fisher Mysteries, or any number of my other favorites as I find them. If I put them on when the fam is home, I get ambushed with discussion. I need quiet to enjoy my addiction….

  8. reharrisson Says:

    Your favorite episode plot line
    reminded me of a song – Tom Lehrer Rickety Tickety Tin or The Irish Ballad. The intro is funny, and the song starts at 1:00.

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