The Queen and I probably don’t have a lot in common, but one area in which we do is that we are both fans of the British series (regularly repeated on PBS) Midsomer Murders.
The title refers to an excruciatingly quaint candybox village of half timbered and thatched dwellings situated ‘somewhere’, though I’m opting for Hampshire because it looks a bit like the scenery around there, but Wiltshire or even Dorset might do if you’re going to be picky.
Anyway, for all its esthetic and cultural appeals, Midsomer is also a hotbed of homicides, brutality, clandestine screwing (almost literally everybody is having an affair, and the penalty for forbidden nookie often means getting bumped off, sometimes in flagrante, and not uncommonly by a wronged spouse).
If the per capita murder rate in a bigger centre, like London for example, were the same as Midsomer’s, it would be a bloody horror-show of wanton carnage.
Now, we watch Midsomer as purely escapist fare. While the acting is reasonable, the plotlines are veneer-thin and so predictable that they make Agatha Christie seem like Tolstoy. There are two series, one, the original, starring John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby is lamer than the later one starring Neil Dudgeon as CI John Barnaby (the two Barnaby boys are cousins, OK). We prefer the Dudgeon one. More realistically written and I am madly in love with Barnaby’s wife, played by Fiona Doleman, not to mention charming Jack Russell, Sykes. On the other hand, Tom Barnaby’s wife in the first series is a boring waste of space, and his lame-ass daughter is a vacuous, snotty waste of education.
What I mostly watch Midsomer for, however, is as a metaphor. Although the homicidal mayhem quotient is lower in most other communities, including my own, a great deal of the other problems can be found.
Sleazy property developer comes in to exploit an iconic spot in the community for his profits. He offers stuff like poorly-paying jobs for folks who try to labor in an underemployed community. And he wants to put in something alluring in the jerkwater town, like a big box store of some ilk.
Meanwhile, he co-opts assorted town fathers and mothers to his cause, and successfully divides the community. And with that division, “thou shalt conquer”, or so he believes. In the case of Midsomer they also throw a little gratuitous sex into the mix and the interloper starts banging either a society matron who is hitched to the developer’s leading opponent, or the matron’s comely and endowed daughter, or both Mom and Daughter.
In my metaphor I am not sure this is exactly how such things unfold, but sometimes I wouldn’t be surprised.
But, in the Midsomer twist in the tale that opponent gets wind of the liaison and he bumps the interloper off. Usually in the forest. A forest punctuated by the sounds of screeching foxes.
Not saying such stuff happens here. At least nobody has developed a TV series around it yet, so we shall never know for sure.