Title: Midsomer Murders
Starring: Neil Dudgeon, Gwilym Lee, Fiona Dolman
First aired: 1997
Where you can watch it: Netflix
I have always found the word “bucolic” a little strange. A dictionary.com definition describes it as of, relating to, or suggesting an idyllic rural life, but the sound of the word itself always brings to my mind something diseased—after all, it’s only a few letters removed from “bubonic.”
Midsomer Murders strikes me in much the same way. You flip on the television and settle in with promises of tea and coziness and then, like the casual murderer, it whacks you in the back of your unsuspecting head with startling violence and dark family secrets. That bucolic English countryside is a hotbed of vice and villainy; the gritty Baltimore of The Wire is downright tame in comparison.
Not to worry, though. DCI Tom Barnaby and a rotating cast of partners (the sleazy Troy, followed by the slightly less sleazy Scott) always manage to ferret out the culprit, usually someone with something to hide who would rather dispose of half the population of their hamlet rather than let the truth leak out. One would think that at a certain point none of your friends would care about your mysterious nine month absence and the equally mysterious appearance of the neighbor’s new baby, but there it is. Barnaby, a quiet, assured, and relatively happy detective, will learn your secret anyway.
Midsomer Murders is the perfect British mystery series. Each episode is relatively similar in structure and while there are some plotlines that weave themselves throughout the series, viewers can dip in and out without missing any major developments. Fans of other British television series will also enjoy being able to play a rousing game of Where Else Have I Seen That Actor. Cozy without being cloying, Midsomer Murders is the perfect show to enjoy on a rainy evening alone. If a friend of yours just revealed a deep dark secret to you, though, maybe don’t open the door when they drop by.