Midsomer Murders: The Dogleg Murders

Rating 2½

Created and produced by Brian True-May, based on the books by Caroline Graham

Episode directed by Richard Holthouse

Episode written by Andrew Payne

Starring John Nettles (DCI Tom Barnaby), Jason Hughes (DS Ben Jones), Jane Wymark (Joyce Barnaby), Barry Jackson (Dr George Bullard), Nicholas Day (Martin Crisp), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Eileen Fountain), Jamie Belman (Darren Fountain), Luke Neal (Colin Fountain), John Standing (Will Tunstall), Holly Gilbert (Becky Tunstall), Nicholas Le Prevost (Jerry Drinkwater), Graham Seed (Miles Tully), Hugh Ross (Ed Monkberry), Geoffrey Hutchings (Harry Claypole), Peter-Hugo Daly (Archie Kemp), Lin Blakley (Jane Painter), Michael Keating (Derek Painter), Robert Perkins (Clyde Patchett), Kirsty Dillon (WPC Gail Stephens), Nick Fletcher (CS John Cotton), Alison Skilbeck (Sarah Kingslake) and Rupert Vansittart (Alastair Kingslake)

When Alastair Kingslake is bludgeoned to death with a golf club on the dogleg of the notorious “Crisp’s Folly” 13th hole at the Whiteoaks golf club, suspicion points at one of his playing partners, Jerry Drinkwater, with whom he had a £1,000 bet who would win the hole. Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby is faced with entrenched class snobbery when he begins his investigation and after a second murder is committed he uncovers evidence of rife illegal gambling taking place at the club.

‘Midsomer Murders’ is a British television institution. It began with the pilot episode ‘The Killings at Badger’s Drift’, based on the 1987 novel of the same name by the author Caroline Graham and first broadcast on ITV on 23 March 1997. ‘The Dogleg Murders’ is the sixty-sixth episode and the first of the twelfth season. This season will consist of four two-hour episodes. John Nettles, who has played the lead role of the sleepy police detective Tom Barnaby since the beginning, has announced that he will leave the show following completion of the thirteenth season. Whether it will continue after that is not known, although the genial and deceptively charismatic Nettles would certainly be a hard act to follow.

In his pocket preview of ‘The Dogleg Murders’ in The Guardian newspaper, Will Dean said of ‘Midsomer Murders’ that, “It trundles along like a TV version of Xanax, two hours of murder mystery with a tranquilising effect to take the edge off. Now in its 12th season, it’s proved an enduringly popular sedative.” This sums up the series rather well. Hard hitting it is not, but that is a big part of its appeal. As time has gone by it has settled comfortably into increasingly ludicrous plots, with a knowing twinkle in its eye.

‘The Dogleg Murders’ offers nothing new and there really isn’t a lot to be said about it, but it is all reassuringly familiar. It might leave no powerful lasting impression, but Tom Barnaby is going to be missed when John Nettles says goodbye to the role.

Review posted 23 July 2009

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