Midsomer Murders-D.C.I. Barnaby & Me-Collection 2 (1997)

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Released 3-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version
Introduction-John Nettles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 524:41
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter Smith
Sarah Hellings
Richard Holthouse
Renny Rye
Studio
Distributor
Bentley Productions
Madman Entertainment
Starring John Nettles
Daniel Casey
Case Slip Case
RPI $29.95 Music Jim Parker


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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    

    I have reviewed a number of 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 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'swork, the plots are full of twists and turns and numerous red herrings and suspects.

     The concept of this set D.C.I Barnaby & Me is to compile episodes selected by the lead actor John Nettles in various categories including his favourite episode of all time. This is the second such set released. These sets are repackages of the same episodes which appeared on the season by season sets so they may not be of interest to people who already own these sets. Having said that, though, they are a good way to dip into the 13 seasons of Midsomer and see some of the better episodes. Each episode is introduced by John Nettles and he explains why he chose the episode. This adds 3-4 minutes to each episode. The set is nicely packaged in one triple case housed in a sturdy slipcover.

     So far, 70+ movie length episodes (over 13 seasons) have been made in this series all starring John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby of Corston CID, although Season 13 might be his last it seems. He has been ably assisted by various offsiders. These episodes feature his first offsider, Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), as this compilation comes from Seasons 1-6. This set includes five movie length episodes. 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. Times quoted below are with the bumpers. As usual, these episodes contain an array of well known British television faces many of who have appeared in a number of Midsomer episodes.

     The five episodes, all of good to very good quality are included (on three discs):

  1. Most Intriguing Crime - Death of a Hollow Man (106:49) (Season 1, Ep 3) - Barnaby's wife is a first hand witness to an onstage accident which results in the death of the lead in a local play. But was it an accident or something more sinister?
  2. Most Difficult to Film - The Electric Vendetta (103:52) (Season 4, Ep 3) - UFO fans come flocking to Midsomer when a man is found dead in a crop circle.
  3. Most Dramatic Episode - Murder on St Malley's Day (103:51) (Season 5, Ep 3) - Murder and intrigue based around an exclusive local school but are the local villagers to blame?.
  4. Most Bizarre Episode - A Talent for Life (103:45) (Season 6, Ep 1) - Rival pensioners fishing in the local rivers are possibly involved in two floating bodies.
  5. Favourite Episode - Strangler's Wood (106:24) (Season 2, Ep 2) - A visiting model is murdered but is it linked to three unsolved murders from years before?

    This is probably a good set to start with if you want to try Midsomer Murders for the first time. Recommended for fans of English mysteries but probably not necessary for those who have collected all the season sets.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is good. Two of the three discs contain two episodes which means there is some evidence of MPEG compression.

The episodes are presented in two different aspect ratios dependant upon which season they are from. Early episodes (1,2 & 5) are in 1.56:1 4x3 and the later episodes (3,4) are in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced. I would guess both of these are the original aspect ratios.

     The picture was reasonably sharp and clear for its age. Shadow detail is average. There is some light grain at times, some MPEG artefacts during fast motion and minor macro-blocking in some backgrounds. The grain is heavier in earlier episodes

     The colour was decent but somewhat dull in earlier episodes.

    Artefacts include mild aliasing and quite a bit of 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, although subtitles would have been useful. 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

    All the extras are really part of the main program being the option of ad-break bumpers and the introductions by John Nettles which are not optional.

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 3

Trailers

    Trailers for other 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 a repackage only available locally although it is Region free.

Summary

    A quality collection of repackaged Midsomer Murders episodes selected by John Nettles.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are included in the main feature.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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