‘Midsomer Murders’ review: Season 19 continues with ‘Crime and Punishment’

‘Crime and Punishment’ is set in Bleakridge which is, we’re told, “the most remote village in Midsomer.”

It also has a chronic shortage of ample parking – either that or, despite its remoteness, it is something of a Mecca for the tourist trade.  Whatever the reason, there seems to be no end of cars parked incorrectly, generating a great deal of work handing out parking tickets for the Bleakridge Watch.

This is a more-regimented, apparently full-time version of the normal Neighbourhood Watch scheme, boasting among its numbers Richard from Keeping Up Appearances and Nigel from Broadchurch (Clive Swift and Joe Sims) and commanded by a tweed-wearing Frances Barber as martinet Ingrid who, for no particular reason, lives in a castle.

Midsomer is the sort of county where a person can live in a castle without anybody batting an eyelid.  It’s also, of course, a county with a higher than average murder rate, and this episode is one of those where the theme is ‘the past comes back to haunt us.’

It’s a category that’s served the show well in the past (one of the very earliest and best examples being ‘Death’s Shadow’ guest-starring Richard Briers) and does so again here, with the key being the hit-and-run killing a couple of years earlier of Frank Lockston.  Depending on who you ask he was a saintly brother, a perfect father… or a bullying, abusive, drunk of a husband.  The confession-cum-dénouement when it arrives is pleasingly honest, with the killer not regretful for Frank’s death and the widow herself actually rather grateful.

There’s a slight loose end with the presence (or rather, the absence) of daughter Tara (Phoebe Campbell) who has a fair amount of screen time early on, getting angry with her mother and pally with her aunt, but who then disappears about halfway through.

There’s no kidnapping plotline to account for it, so maybe the character fell foul of the real world’s restrictions on the hours minors can work; but it’s unfortunate that she doesn’t reappear at the end, to learn the truth about her father and be reconciled with her mother.  It’s a subplot that, unlike the light-bondage moonlighting antics of the publican’s wife, doesn’t really get a satisfying conclusion.

Much more satisfying, it’s pleasing to see that the new chap is already so much a part of the team that it’s almost possible to forget his predecessor, as he delights young Betty and begs for sausages at yet another Barnaby barbecue.  No, no, not the new DS, I’m talking about Paddy the dog of course!

In the human camp, Nick Hendrix is doing very nicely as the new cop in town, uncovering a stolen hoard at the local DIY store and revealing that there may be more to his and Kam’s past meeting than we’d thought.  There’s also a reference to him tweeting, which in the curiously old-fashioned county of Midsomer, makes him dangerously modern.

More deaths next week!

Aired at 8pm on Wednesday 4 January 2017 on ITV.

Buy the complete Season 18 box set on Amazon here.

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