Thursday, 22 March 2012


Midsomer Murders - Series 15, Episode 2. Convicted killer Grady Felton comes back to his childhood home after 18 years, much to the anger of the family of his victim, Daniel Denning. A barrister involved in his trial is murdered that same night but Grady has a solid alibi.

Since 1997 the residents of Midsomer County obligingly experiment in rotation the most various ways to be murdered without any complaint of the international community. The formula of Midsomer Murders survived the departure of its original star (John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby) in 2011. It even survived a so-called controversy after some uninspired words of its longtime producer Brian True-May (1), now replaced by Jo Wright (Lovejoy, 55 Degrees North) for this fifteenth series which started last month on ITV1.

Introduced a couple of series ago alongside his cousin Tom, and fully in charge of Midsomer's bodycount registry since last year, DCI John Barnaby (played by Neil Dudgeon) is back with DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). Grady Felton (Jack Pierce), a convicted murderer, returns home to Midsomer after serving time for the murder of village youngster Daniel Denning. Felton hopes to sell his old cottage but a welcoming commitee of the angry kind shows him how much he shouldn't have been allowed to come back.

When his former defence barrister is murderered Grady becomes the chief suspect. However, he has the strongest of the alibis thanks to the people who hates him and waited him. Meanwhile, John reluctantly considers the perspective of the Chief Constable's fitness test as his wife Sarah (Fiona Dolman) wants him to attend military-style workouts run by Gareth Dunbar, a Scottish trainer (Jamie Michie). And Jones's life could be in jeopardy.

Written by Elizabeth-Anne Wheal (Dalziel and Pascoe, The Bill), this endless Murder of Innocence - ad breaks don't help - morphs Midsomer Murders into a more traditional ITV crime drama with rather mixed results. Ben Jones gets a girlfriend, the best line of the episode (« Is anyone here stupid enough to commit arson with their own fuel, sir? »), but also the worst (« You need to watch less television. ») His boss is oddly not up to Neil Dudgeon's talent and the fitness situation sounds a bit written for John's cousin. But it's a trick to help a solution really far-fetched, even by Midsomer's standards.

Too much of everything, even a court scene where we learn that Midsomer County is actually so small that it costs poor Jones a case. This second episode, overall weaker than the series opener, is directed by Renny Rye. Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, for ITV1. On a side note, series 14 recently ended a successful run in France on pubcaster France 3 (2).

(2) (In French)

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