Midsomer Murders series 18 recently became available for streaming in the U.S. through the lovely people at Acorn TV. My daughter and I have been waiting for this to happen for a while and when it finally did we were simultaneously excited and bummed.
We were excited because we love us some Midsomer Murder. We love the intrigue, the cool stares, the angry outbursts, the non-stop drinking (seriously how is anyone ever sober?) and of course the manor houses and village life that is on display in each episode.
We were bummed because we knew this was the last series with D.S. Nelson or as we like to call him “Gwilym.” The actor’s real name is so much more fun to say than “Nelson” so when he first came on the scene we immediately started referring to him as “Gwilym.” For the purposes of this review I will stick to calling him “Nelson” since I am discussing the character and not the actor. I will also be jumping from “I” to “we” because some of the opinions are my own and some of them are shared with my daughter as we yelled and hooted at the screen.
There are six episodes in series 18. In the first episode, Habeas Corpus, we get a heaping dose of rich, dysfunctional family (always a winning combo), stolen dead bodies, a creepy funeral director, and a smarmy, rich guy who arrives in a helicopter to console the family. What’s not to love? Well, two things. One scene wasn’t explained at all when two of the characters were drinking (surprise!) and then started maniacally laughing at the fact that one of their husbands just died. We really wanted to know what that was all about. Secondly, pathologist Dr. Kate Wilding has been dispatched to a teaching position in Brighton and a new pathologist called Dr. Cam Karimore has taken her place. This made us a little sad. We loved the disjointed camaraderie that Nelson and Kate had. One of our favorite scenes is when they hunkered down together for a night of tv-watching and takeout. We also loved that she drove Nelson crazy with her messy habits and her parents.
Cam and Nelson struggle with a bout of competitiveness with each other that starts out as a source of frustration and annoyance for Nelson, but by the end of series 18 seemed to be developing into a possibly sweet relationship for Nelson and Cam. But it can’t develop because Nelson.Is.Off.The.Show. Have I mentioned that?
The second episode, The Incident at Cooper Hill, finds us confronted with the possibility of real alien encounters, UFO chasers and government cover-ups. However, it is Midsomer so it probably means somebody has gotten access to some really bright lights and taken advantage of the cover a forest can give you.
Breaking the Chain is about competitive champion cycle racing and more family dysfunction -Yay! This episode gets my award for coolest modern homes in Midsomer and most creative ways to die in series 18, which is one of the things that the writers of Midsomer Murders really excel at. I will say series 18 seems to have gotten a bigger budget because each episode seems to be decked out with increasingly higher end modes of transport and entertainment. Whatever happened to knocking down beer bottles with a ball and flower show competitions?
In A Dying Art it is murder as sculpture when a wealthy art patron dies after opening his strictly curated sculpture park. The villagers want access to the land and the artists want their work chosen for display. Somebody just had to die! Again there are some more creative means of dispatching victims in Midsomer County. I have to say I did figure out who the murderer was about half way through but I just didn’t know the motive. The best part of this one is watching Nelson sneak up behind the murderer (he is very good at this!) while DCI Barnaby talks them out of whatever shenanigans they are up to.
Saints and Sinners trots down the archaeology path again when an archaeologist is murdered at her own dig site after discovering the true remains of a medieval martyr. The plotting in this one is pretty convoluted but Anderson (actor Jonathan Aris) from Sherlock is in it. We ended up being more interested in Nelson showing off his tennis skills AND his best sneaking up skills even though Cam ends up beating him on both counts. The tennis win is shady on Cam’s part but what can you do when murder calls? Literally. Nelson got a phone call and missed the point.
Harvest of Souls was probably my least favorite in this series mainly because I hate fairs, even if they are spelled f-a-y-r-e. In this, the last episode for Nelson (did I mention he is off the show?), the lord of the manor’s son is found poisoned and trampled to death by a horse at his stables. The deaths weren’t as creative in this episode and the denouement was quite prolonged which allowed for much sneaking up on Nelson’s part (yay!) but too much talking on the murderer’s end.
To sum up: In series 18 you get horses, helicopters, racing bikes, motorcycles, pristine vintage caravans and a UFO. That is a lot of transportation! You also get missing bodies, mountain climbing, giant art sculptures, cheating at tennis and Anderson from Sherlock.
We will miss D.S. Charlie Nelson. We will miss how he chased everybody in all kinds of weather and through all sorts of obstacles. He jumped fences, ran along dams, stayed overnight in a “haunted” pub, dived into ponds and snuck up on a heck of a lot of murderers all while staying preppy in his cardigans and v-neck sweaters. We will miss you Gwilym!
I have been getting questions about whether Sykes died. The answer is no as of January 2017. Sykes retired and is being replaced in Series 19 by a younger dog. So it appears animal film stars experience the same thing as human film stars. Time for someone younger…