Thursday, 5 February 2015


The Midsomer Oaks pub landlady is crushed to death by a giant Perspex box during a magic show by a famous illusionist. 

DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee) investigate. They uncover a conflict between the village church and local ancient pagan traditions.

Series 17 of Midsomer Murders started on January 28, 2015 with a rather tedious episode called The Dagger Club. Aired yesterday on ITV, Murder by Magic is penned by Rachel Cuperman and Sally Griffiths and directed by Charles Palmer (Death in Paradise, Doctor Who). Fiona Dolman and Tamzin Malleson play respectively Sarah Barnaby and pathologist Dr Kate Wilding. Joe Absolom (Doc Martin), Amanda Burton (Waterloo Road, Silent Witness), Stephanie Leonidas (Defiance), Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval), Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe) are amongst the guest stars.

Scribe duo Cuperman and Griffiths was behind Death and the Divas, the splendid 2013 "Hammer" episode, and they managed to bring back a bit of the spirit of their instant classic in their latest contribution for Midsomer Murders. A church fundraiser by David Blaine type magician Gideon Latimer turns nasty. Hooded and masked members of a pagan cult practice ritual sacrifices (or do they?) A fanatical clergyman makes a deadly encounter with a dagger. A bullet goes facetious and someone ends up in a sort of Wicker Man remake on a budget. There's also a cool nod to Death and the Divas. 

With its assets and a sumptuous guest cast, Murder by Magic is an improvement over last week but since the previous series Midsomer Murders shows signs of fatigue in many respects (the main actors seem on autopilot). Its spark is on a Saint Marie beach because Death in Paradise does Midsomer better these days. This 17th series is exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Phil Hunter. Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions Ltd, an All3Media company, for ITV. The music is composed by Jim Parker (House of Cards).

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