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Another solid standard-def edition of one of TV's truly great long-running crime dramas....
Acorn Media / 372 Minutes / 2011-2012 / Unrated / Street Date: January 8, 2013
Midsomer Murders: Set 21 is the full-force debut of Neil Dudgeon's presence as the new Inspector Barnaby. Set 20 showcased a changing of the guards of sorts - our beloved John Nettles waved goodbye to us - but on this new collection (the first Midsomer compilation of the new year), Dudgeon is large and in charge, and the results are refreshingly solid: one only misses Nettles when the mysteries at hand aren't compelling, and that isn't a situation that occurs much here.
These four tales - Death in the Slow Lane, Dark Secrets, Echoes of the Dead, and The Oblong Murders - are capable, enthralling, and excellently presented, letting Barnaby and his partner (Jason Hughes) sift through the shrapnel of the crimes in front of them with steely class and assured professionalism. Whether it's religious cults or moon mysteries (seriously!), these guys take us into their sagas with irresistible charm.
DVDFile only got a standard-def edition of Set 21 for review, so as a home theater barnburner, it leaves a bit to be desired (Acorn isn't necessarily known for top-tier high-def presentations, but I bet the TV-on-BD release of this one trumps its DVD version soundly). But there's a distinct reason Midsomer Murders has remained such a mainstay in television programming: these are complex, intriguing adult dramas that are as good as any other crime dramas currently on the air. More, please!