Midsomer Murders-Season 15-Part 1 (2012)

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Released 27-May-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Photo
Additional Footage
Alternative Version
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 270
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Smith
Sarah Hellings
Richard Holthouse
Renny Rye
Studio
Distributor
Bentley Productions
Madman Entertainment
Starring Neil Dudgeon
Jason Hughes
Case Slip Case
RPI $39.95 Music Jim Parker


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     I have reviewed quite a few seasons of Midsomer Murders in the past and they have all followed a very familiar pattern, however from Season 14 things changed quite a bit. Season 14 from 2011 changed the main character from DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) to his cousin DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) but the name is really the only similarity between the characters. The show is based on a set of novels by Caroline Graham. They are all set in an area of England known as Midsomer, consisting of a larger town, Corston, where the main character lives and numerous small villages where people seem to get murdered at an alarming rate.

     Previously, 70+ movie length episodes (over 14 seasons) were made in this series starring John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby of Corston CID, although Season 13 was his last. Season 13 introduced DCI John Barnaby. Seasons 14 & 15 saw the last Tom Barnaby offsider, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) continue as the offsider for the new DCI. Despite being the same character Jones is being written as a more forthright and involved character than he was previously and the show in general is more focused on the police and their investigation of the case than previous seasons. The new DCI is quite a different character as well; he is more acerbic and facetious at times, regularly making jokes at Jones' expense. His wife is now the local school head mistress and he has a small dog, Sykes, who he talks to about his cases. In this second half of Season 14, the long serving pathologist, George, was replaced by a new one, a younger woman, Kate. Some of the folksiness of the previous stories has also been stripped away and the murders are delivered earlier in the story and can be more gruesome. It is great to see a show as long in the tooth as this one reinventing itself and trying something different.

     This set includes three movie length episodes which are episodes 1-3 of Season 15. These episodes were made and first aired in 2012. Each episode can either be watched with or without advertisement break bumpers. This adds approximately 40 seconds to the playing time of each episode if turned on. The set is packaged in two standard cases which are then housed in a cardboard slipcover.

     The three episodes, which are all of good quality (the first one is the standout), included are

  1. The Dark Rider - The appearance of a headless horseman causes an old man to fall off his large country house to his death. Barnaby & Jones investigate during a Roundheads vs Cavaliers reenactment. James Callis (Gaius from Battlestar) guest starts as twin brothers.
  2. Murder of Innocence - A Barrister turns up dead on the night a convicted murderer returns to Midsomer after serving his jail sentence.
  3. Death & The Divas - A journalist’s murder seems spookily similar to a murder mystery movie which starred a local resident.

     Recommended for fans of English mysteries and definitely worth a re-look at Midsomer Murders if you thought it was getting stale.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is good.

     The series is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced which I would guess is the original aspect ratio.

     The picture was quite sharp and clear without being really crisp. Shadow detail is decent. There is some light grain at times and some mild MPEG artefacts during fast motion.

     The colour was very good.

     Other artefacts included some mild aliasing and edge enhancement.

     There are no subtitles.

     There are no noticeable layer changes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is very good.

     These DVDs contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s . This audio transfer is perfectly suited to the material.

     Dialogue was mostly easy to understand and clear throughout. There were no sync problems.

     The music by Jim Parker is mostly variations on the theme tune which is distinctive and a little creepy.

     The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     An audio commentary is added to the standard extras for these discs.

Menu

     The menu is well done and allows for set-up (with or without ad bumpers) and scene selection. It includes music and dialogue.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary - The Dark Rider

     This commentary included a moderator, Henry Holland, along with the director Alex Pillai and the star, Neil Dudgeon. It is interesting and the moderator keeps the conversation flowing. Discussion includes the cast, writing, characters, trivia and anecdotes, technical discussion of how shooting the twins was achieved and production design. Well worth a listen.

Photographic Evidence (7:01)

     A photo gallery including publicity stills.

Textless Title Sequences (1:38)

     The title should give away what this extra is.

Disc 2

Photographic Evidence (6:41)

     A photo gallery including publicity stills.

Textless Title Sequence (2:46)

     The title should give away what this extra is.

Alternate Footage (1:38)

     Footage used to create less violent daytime versions of the shows.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This seems to be the first global release of this series on DVD. These episodes seem to have been released separately in Region 2. For now at least Region 4 is the way to go.

Summary

    A new lead actor and character drives quite a bit of change in this long running series.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are a bit better than usual.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, June 17, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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