I didn’t plan on writing another Midsomer Murders post until new episodes came out in 2018. Then I thought it would be fun to make a list of my top ten favorite Midsomer Murders episodes while I wait for new episodes.
As you may know from reading my other Midsomer posts, my daughter and I watch this show together so I tend to jump between using “we” and “our” instead of just “I” when writing Midsomer blog posts. Making this list was a bit harder than we expected because there are so many episodes to choose from and it is easy to combine elements from two different episodes and think you are talking about one. But, we got it all straightened out in the end so please enjoy our top ten list of favorite Midsomer Murders episodes.
10. Market for Murder (Series 5)
“Market for Murder” opens with the short-tempered, overbearing stock broker Selwyn Proctor narrowly escaping being blown up in his car. More importantly though, we get to see one of DS Troy’s true passions as he makes a pit stop to buy the newest copy of the “The Hawk” comic book. Clearly a wise investment.
Midsomer Market is a hotbed of secrets and the perfect place for a little blackmail. Barnaby and Troy end up investigating the local women’s Reading Club (aka secret investment club) after its leader, Marjorie Empson is murdered. We weren’t sorry to see Marjorie go and neither were some of the locals.
Dr. Rupert Bradshaw: Warm Pimms and rubber quiche in Marjorie’s back garden is not my idea of fun.
It’s not ours either Dr. Bradshaw. The only one who will mourn Marjorie is Vera Hopkins. After all, Marjorie had put her in charge of salads AND dips for the garden party. Now what is she going to do?
So Marjorie and her exclusive garden parties are out and the pool man is in – with Selwyn’s wife that is. Midsomer always has its share of entrepreneurial handymen and you can spot their blue or red trucks a mile away. You know something is going down when that vehicle rolls in.
“Market for Murder” has backhanded compliments, thwarted social climbers, a roof obsessed wife and a hypochondriac pervert. Who could ask for more?
9. The Creeper (Series 12)
Barnaby gets stuck investigating “The Creeper” a highly selective thief who seems to be in it more for the fun than the loot. However, the rich are not the only ones feeling the reach of the late night Creeper. The Chief Constable and Barnaby get their special own visits. Hey Joyce, who’s in your house?
We love the brashness of The Creeper, but first and foremost this episode makes the Top Ten because of comedian Rik Mayall. He brings such energy and bluster to his performance that you wish his character didn’t bite the dust so soon. The ending is satisfying with the right people getting together. However, there is a bit of an “ew” factor you have to get over based on an initial understanding of their relationship. Of course, it is Midsomer and nothing is truly ever as it seems which is why we love it so.
8. Hidden Depths (Series 8)
“Hidden Depths” falls under the boozy category for us. Most of the plot centers on wine drinking (voluntarily or not) and a long-lost stash of vintage wines. This episode has hands-down some of the most creative, time-consuming and eccentric ways to kill people. Some of the methods are quite cringe-worthy which is probably why we keep it in the rotation.
Also, it isn’t often you see Barnaby’s wife Joyce having a good time. Usually Joyce is all disappointment and frown central. This episode gives Joyce some quality “me time” while Barnaby and Scott sweat it out in a locked cellar. Another thumbs up for us.
7. Vixen’s Run (Series 9)
“Vixen’s Run” starts off with a scandalous flashback and a peeping Tom. It also ticks a lot of boxes in the classic elements of British mystery writing. There are disgruntled family members waiting for the patriarch to pop off, eccentric old people pottering about the estate, snobbery and passive aggressiveness over lunch, dubious parentage and a good old-fashioned treasure hunt.
Our first treat is watching actor Joss Acklund, as Sir Freddy Butler, indulge in a gluttonous binge-fest of venison and wine until our stomachs turn over. Venison in July? How dare he? It turns out that little breach of etiquette may have cost him his life.
Insert poor DS Jones among the really solid bitchiness of literally everyone who lives at Haddington and you get a great recipe for social awkwardness. While the higher ups treat him like the kitchen help, Jones treats himself to some flirtation with a local bookshop girl. Maybe she will end up inheriting the whole estate and Jones can have the last laugh…
6. The Dagger Club (Series 17)
“The Dagger Club” is the second best episode in Series 17. It has some clever dying, the plot revolves around a deceased crime fiction writer and Mrs. Hudson from Sherlock (Una Stubbs) is in it playing a greedy card shark.
The episode writers appear to have had good fun pointing out the eccentricity of the artistic set. More than a few of the authors at the crime festival seem just a touch narcissistic and blinded by their perceived self-importance. One even goes so far as to mention how many Twitter followers he has.
Nelson comes into his own in this episode, chasing down leads and proposing his own ideas about motive. There is even an actual chase scene. Unfortunately no dams, trees, bikes or mud are involved. Nelson also cleans up nicely for a gallery event by putting on a tie and a sport coat over his cardigan.
There are a few repeating themes evident in “The Dagger Club” which is practically unavoidable given the death count in Midsomer County. This isn’t the first book festival to kick-off with a murder and if Midsomer’s track record is anything to go by, it won’t be the last.
5. Murder on St. Malley’s Day (Series 5)
Because there are so many episodes of Midsomer it can be confusing to try and describe the episode you want to watch. Occasionally we rename episodes to capture the essence of what they mean to us. We call “Murder on St. Malley’s Day,” “the Pudding Club one.” Much simpler.
“Murder on St. Malley’s Day” has all of the things we love: entitled jerks, a posh boarding school, secret clubs and a wife who couldn’t roll her eyes further into her head if she tried. After watching this a few times we have gotten into the habit of banging our spoons for dessert. Oddly, a manservant does not appear and bring us our pudding. Hmm…
4. Orchis Fatalis (Series 8)
Being a collector of rare items is always a great way to get yourself murdered. The writers bypassed typical items like coins and stamps and went straight for rare orchid collecting. From a visual perspective, it is much more dramatic to chuck a potted plant than to throw a rare stamp, so this makes a lot of sense. Also, orchids are certainly more in keeping with the colorful Midsomer landscape.
This is one of the few episodes that doesn’t actually begin in Midsomer County which gives it a unique spin. We love this episode for DS Scott pure and simple. His utter confusion at how people could pay so much for an orchid is golden. We also like his cynicism and punnier moments when breaking into a safe with an axe. He is clearly out of his comfort zone in this episode which makes for great viewing.
3. A Vintage Murder (Series 17)
“A Vintage Murder” is one of our favorite fancy episodes. Fancy winery. Fancy hotel. Fancy people. Murder-by-chemistry is the weapon of choice this time around so look out you fancy wine snobs. Also, Kate gets to spout a lot of very science-y sounding words after each murder and wear a special mask. Yeah Kate! This is also one of our favorite Gwylim Lee (DS Nelson) episodes. There is some lovely wine-based banter between Nelson and Kate:
Kate: We opened five random bottles but found no trace in the wine itself.
Nelson: Five bottles? Just another weeknight for you then…
Kate: I’ll get the full report to you by end of day. I’ll put it on your desk if I can find it in my drunken stupor.
There are some interesting relationships and red herrings in “A Vintage Murder,” but we love it for one very specific reason. We ship Nelson and Kate pretty hard and love seeing them hunkered down, eating takeout and watching detective shows together. We also love watching Kate and Sarah plot to set up Nelson with someone else. Here is Nelson so accommodating with knowing what Kate likes to eat and willing to get it for her, but she pushes him towards someone else. Really Kate? Why oh why did it have to end?
2. Schooled in Murder (Series 15)
“Schooled in Murder” is a great title but we prefer to call it, “the one with the cheese.” Martine McCutcheon is so awesomely brazen from the moment she crashes into the Midsomer Pastures school gate until it is lights out with a cheese wheel. The only real crime here is that she didn’t get more screen time. The rest of the episode is pretty solid with twists and turns and some serious ocd-ness over the cheese cave humidity levels.
As you will notice from a previous entry we really do enjoy our prep school plots. When deciding which episode to watch again we always choose one with Gwylim, a boozy episode or a prep school centered plot. No brainer. Ideally there would be an episode with this ultimate trifecta but that chance has passed. On a side note, this is one of those episodes where the plot doesn’t lend itself well to a punny village name (i.e. Midsomer Vinae, Midsomer Market). Midsomer Cheese anyone?
1. Tainted Fruit (Series 5)
Why is this our top choice? Quite simply it is the character of Melissa Townsend and how wonderfully she is played by Lucy Punch. She is the best TV version of a British Regina George or Heather Chandler ever. Townsend is the absolute worst and we love her for it. We can watch her get doused in wine and complain all day. She is the girl you love to hate and her downfall is creatively simple and super cringe-worthy. Even though Lucy Punch is the main reason we have watched this episode multiple times, it is worth noting that the locations and plot are also well done. It is a win, win, win.
Want to read more about Midsomer Murders?
- Midsomer Murders Series 18 Review
- Midsomer Murders Series 19 Coming Soon
- Midsomer Murders Series 19 Review
What are your favorite Midsomer Murders episodes? Let me know in the comments below.