Saturday, 1 February 2014


Series 15 of British detective drama Midsomer Murders is available on DVD in France since last month thanks to Koba Films.

Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby and Detective Sergeant Ben Jones, of the Causton CID, investigate bizarre and imaginative murders in the picturesque Midsomer County.

« That is a sense of community, Jones. One goes mad, they all go mad. It's a wonderful little world out here. »

Based initially on the novels by Caroline Graham, Midsomer Murders was launched in 1997 on ITV. Produced by Bentley Productions, an All3Media company, it is sold in more than 200 countries and aired in France since 2001 by France 3 (as Inspecteur Barnaby). John Nettles played DCI Tom Barnaby until 2011. Neil Dudgeon plays Tom's cousin and replacement DCI John Barnaby. Series 15 is the last of Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones. Sarah Barnaby, John's wife, is played by Fiona Dolman. The music is composed by Jim Parker (House of Cards).

Koba Films releases the six 90-minute episodes of this series in a 3-disc DVD set with the French dubbing and, fortunately, the original dialogue track (available with optional French subtitles).

- The Dark Rider: A headless horseman pointing victims to their doom brings terror to Quitewell Hall, home of the aristocratic DeQuetteville family. Barnaby and Jones investigate the secrets of the ancestral family house while its occupants prepare a Civil War battle reenactment, much to the annoyance of their wealthy neighbours.

« Witness said the horse rider had no head.
- Drunk or stoned?
- I was on duty, sir. »

James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) guest stars as twin brothers. Eleanor Bron plays the local Violet Crawley alongside William Gaunt (No Place Like Home, The Champions). The battle reenactment, which quickly turns into a scene of the 1967 Casino Royale, was filmed with four cameras. Historical association The Sealed Knot helped and 200 of their members were used as extras.

An excellent opener written by Michael Aitkens and directed by Alex Pillai. Full review here:

- Murder of Innocence: Convicted killer Grady Felton comes back to his childhood home after 18 years, which infuriates the family of his victim. His defence barrister is murdered that same night but Grady has a solid alibi. An endless and weak episode written by Elizabeth-Anne Wheal and directed by Renny Rye (

« Is anyone here stupid enough to commit arson with their own fuel, sir? »

- Death and the Divas: Writers Rachel Cuperman & Sally Griffiths and director Nick Laughland pay an affectionate tribute to the legendary Hammer Films and the horror films of the 60s with this instant classic.

« Not a vampire bite, then? You must be disappointed. »

Brilliantly crafted sequences from the (fictional) filmography of Stella Harris, played by Sinéad Cusack, feature John Carson (Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter) and cult movie goddess Caroline Munro. Harriet Walter, who plays Stella's sister Diana Davenport, is the niece of the great Christopher Lee (

- Written in the Stars: An amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head with a meteorite during a total eclipse over Midsomer Stanton. Penned by Steve Trafford and directed by Renny Rye, this episode meets the requirements of Midsomer's more than proven formula (

- The Sicilian Defence: Richard Lumsden (Sugar Rush) and Julie Graham (Survivors) are amongst the guest stars of this laboured episode written by Paul Logue and directed by Alex Pillai.

« A rambler found him this morning.
- Where is our rambler?
- Still throwing up.
- Lovely. »

- Schooled in Murder: A young woman is crushed to death with a large wheel of cheese at the home of the world-famous Midsomer Blue. Scriptwriter Lisa Holdsworth (New Tricks) displays a joyful ingenuity for her first Midsomer, right from the pre-credit sequence. Directed by Andy Hay.

« Have we got a murder weapon?
- You're standing in it. »

This fifteenth series is the first produced is by Jo Wright (55 Degrees North, the Doctor Who 1996 TV movie, Lovejoy). The Dark Rider and Death and the Divas alone justify buying the DVD set of an overall good series. (Lisa Holdsworth)

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