Midsomer Murders - Series 15, Episode 3. An amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head with a meteorite during a total eclipse over Midsomer Stanton.
Written by Steve Trafford and directed by Renny Rye, Written in the Stars brings back Midsomer Murders into familiar territories after the weak and endless Murder of Innocence - aired in march. DCI John Barnaby (the excellent Neil Dudgeon) and DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) investigate among the star-seeking community.
The victim, Jeremy Harper (Tim Wallers), had a row with university observatory director Lawrence Janson (Harry Hadden-Patton) before the eclipse. Harper was passionate about preserving Moonstone Ridge, a heritage site housing a 1930s observatory. But local mystic Mags Dormer (Maureen Lipman), who found the body, believes this site is cursed. Sexual tension, academic rivalry, a protective father who's also a yogi, a javelin, a masked killer, and Jones's star chart are some of the other elements of this case... or not.
Produced by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, Midsomer Murders is aired by ITV since 1997 and is sold to more than 230 territories. It survived the departure of John Nettles, who starred until 2011 as DCI Tom Barnaby (the actual Chief Inspector Barnaby is his cousin), thanks to a cautious transition. It even survived 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 in february on ITV1.
Overall Written in the Stars meets the requirements of Midsomer Murders' more than proven formula. And the temptation to alter this formula from time to time should be resisted as showed a couple of previous episodes. It's precisely that formulaic aspect which makes Midsomer a global hit. The cast is perfect even if Fiona Dolman, who plays Sarah Barnaby, gets the worst scenes. And it's always a pleasure to see Maureen Lipman or Ace Bhatti (The Shadow Line, The Sarah Jane Adventures).