The Good

A very entertaining and enjoyable show. John Nettles is great as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby.

The Bad

No commentary tracks. Paltry extras.

Midsomer Murders: Set Eight is a three disc collection containing three murder mysteries. Set in charming Midsomer County (in England), these shows are based on the novels of Caroline Graham. The stars are Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) and his assistant Sergeant Dan Scott (John Hopkins), and together they go about meticulously investigating every case that comes their way.

The three 100 minute shows in this set are:

- The Maid in Splendour

- The Straw Woman

- Ghosts of Christmas Past

In The Maid in Splendour, a local pub becomes the centerpiece for jealousy, backdoor deals and lust that all take place behind closed doors. The Straw Woman sees an old mystery come to life in this tale that has the people of Midsomer accuse a teacher of being a witch. Lastly, Ghosts of Christmas Past sees Barnaby looking for some peace and quiet, only to find himself embroiled in another mystery around the holidays.

Features

John Nettles Interview

Barnaby himself sits down for chat but I couldn't help feel that he was pressed for time. He discusses why people have been taken with the the character he plays (describing him as an "ordinary bloke"), he discusses working with John Hopkins, and he also mentions the pressures of TV in sensationalizing these detective characters. I would say if you enjoy this show you will certainly want to sit down and watch this.

Midsomer Map

This sort of confused me a tad. They are maps for where the events in the show take place. However, they don't really offer anything. They aren't interactive. They aren't well drawn. Overall, I found these things to be somewhat useless on this DVD set, but perhaps I missed something?

Video

16:9 Widescreen. This show looked good in this three DVD set. There wasn't anything too special about the way it's been put together, but watching this set I recalled a lot of my favorite detective shows from the 1980s. The editing is pretty traditional, the pacing solid, and the color schemes muted. This show employs a lot of greens, browns and dark blues. They have done a very good job of keeping things solid (in a lighting sense) when things take place in exterior and interior locations.

Audio

Stereo. I didn't hear anything that grabbed my attention in a negative way. Things seemed to be leveled just right so as to underscore and support these three stories. My only slight problem was with the actor's thick accents but I have realized that if you watch enough of any show, as long as they aren't speaking a completely different language, it becomes easier and easier to understand.

Package

The cover of this slipcase cover features Barnaby and Hopkins with the woods of Midsomer all around them. The back portion of this case has three shots from this show (from various episodes I assume), a description of what Midsomer Murders: Set Eight contains, a Special Features listing and system specs. All three discs are stored on three, slim, separate cases, all of which feature the same front cover image as the slipcase that houses them. Underneath that image, is a shot from that show's particular episode. While they have made things economical, I think Acorn Media should take a cue from Paramount and put a release like this out in an amaray case.

Final Word

As a huge fan of shows like Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, and Perry Mason, I was extremely taken with Midsomer Murders: Set Eight. Aside from the stories being very well written, I think that Barnaby is a great television detective. What he has in common with all of the aforementioned people is that he's simply a normal guy. He doesn't have any amazing powers, he's not complex in some way due to events in his past, and he doesn't really call on anything but reason and logic to get to the bottom of things. Even when reason and logic don't suffice, he makes due the best he can with the clues and witnesses he has at his disposal.

If great acting, great storytelling, and gripping drama is what you want, Midsomer Murders: Set Eight provides it all.

Midsomer Murders was released .