Midsomer Murders-Season 3-Volume 1 (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
TV Spots-Textless Title Sequences & Ad Breaks Caps
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||198:26 (Case: 200)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.53:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I have reviewed a number of recent British cop and crime shows including New Tricks and Waking the Dead, however, Midsomer Murders really fits better when bracketed with older style murder mysteries such as Poirot or Miss Marple. Unlike those it is set in the modern day, however, the settings and plot style are very similar. These stories are 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. Similar to Agatha Christie's work, the plots are full of twists and turns and numerous red herrings and suspects.
So far, 54 movie length episodes have been made in this series all starring John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby of Corston CID. He has been ably assisted by various offsiders. These episodes feature his first offsider, Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey). This disc includes two movie length episodes which are in fact episodes 8 & 10 (Officially the third episode of series 2 and the first of series 3, according to information I have). They are presented on our local DVD release as the first half of Series 3. Both of these episodes were made and first aired in 1999. Currently, the first four seasons of this show have been released locally or are slated for future release. They are either available as full season box sets or individual discs, which is what I have available for review. Each episode can either be watched with or without advertisement break bumpers. This adds approximately 50 seconds to the playing time of each episode if turned on. Times quoted below are without the bumpers.
The two episodes including on this disc are both of very good quality and are:
Entertaining episodes of this long running mystery series.
The video quality is average. Most of the issues relate to the low bitrate of the transfer, averaging around 4 Mb/s.
The feature is presented in a 1.52:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced. IMDB lists the original aspect ratio as 1.78:1 which is the way these shows are presented in Region 1. Region 2 PAL releases seem to be the same as ours in terms of aspect ratio, certainly in European releases. I cannot find any information about the aspect ratio of the English release from Acorn.
The picture was not overly sharp and clear being affected by grain and mild macro-blocking due to the low bitrate of the transfer. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was decent but no more.
The colour was reasonable but not overly vibrant.
Artefacts included some jagged edges here and there and a spot of two of mild aliasing such as at 41:00 in episode 1.
There are no subtitles.
The audio quality is good.
This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.
Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand although some lines were a little indistinct. There was no problem with audio sync.
The music used is mostly variations on the theme tune which is distinctive and a little creepy.
The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.
|Surround Channel Use|
A small selection of extras are included.
The menu included music, motion and the ability to select episodes, scenes and set up options.
A promotional booklet is included which has some photos from the series and some notes.
A photo gallery including publicity and behind-the-scenes stills.
The title should give away what this extra is.
Text bios for guest stars in these episodes; Robert Hardy, Terence Rigby, Duncan Preston and James Bolam.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This series is available in a number of different editions around the globe. All other releases only include one movie on each disc which should result in a better bitrate. There are 10 disc sets in Region 1 which include 16x9 enhancement and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio plus some more minor text based extras. In Region 2 there are multiple options including a 10 disc set in the UK including the first ten episodes of the series, one on each disc. I cannot find any clear information on aspect ratio in this release but I would guess it would include the same transfer we have. Another option is Series based sets which are available in The Netherlands. This series (Number 3) includes all four episodes each on a separate disc with Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.0 sound in English. The transfer seems to be the same as ours in aspect ratio terms. Tough call but the answer certainly does not seem to be the local release, unfortunately.
The video quality is average.
The audio quality is good.
A few extras are included.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer|