So I have been marathoning a LOT of Midsomer Murders recently (it’s good when you have insomnia), so here are some of my miscellaneous observations/opinions:
1. As a negative: it’s all very very white. The later seasons seem to be making a sincere effort in improving diversity and representation, but they’ve still got a ways to go. They’ve also never had a woman as either the lead detective or as one of the Detective Sergeants, which I nickname “the Robins” because they’re all dark haired, vaguely interchangeable young male sidekicks.
1b. There are some differences: Troy is an earnest idiot, Scott is kind of a dick, Jones is competent, Nelson’s kind of like a terrier, and I don’t have a good read on Winter yet. He seems a little uptight. I suppose if you think about it, that does track pretty hilariously with Dick, Jason, Tim, Stephanie and Damian. I don’t think Winter is either Barnaby’s literal son though.
1c. Really though, the next Robin really should be a woman. Ideally, a woman of color.
2. They do seem to have made an effort to include LGBT+ representation. However, the execution is a bit spotty, especially in early episodes. And they seem to be a little over reliant on the promiscuous bisexual trope.
3. I do like when they have Tom Barnaby explicitly call out Troy’s (Robin #1) homophobia though. “You are less politically correct than a Nuremburg rally” is still a great line.
4. It is remarkably refreshing to see a detective/mystery show in which the main character(s) have healthy marriages, good relationships with their children (to be fair, Betty is a baby), and generally are nice, competent, functional people.
4b. They even seem to like their wives and enjoy their company.
5. Even the Robins, despite being single young men with no immediate families until they’re spiritually adopted by the Barnabys, seem to be remarkably well adjusted.
6. At no point do the Barnabys or their Robins ever Take This Case Personal. Even when the case involves their friends, they still do their damn jobs.
6b. There was one episode where Jones (Robin #3) seemed close to Taking This Case Personally, out of guilt because he gave the murder victim the brush off pre-murder, but Tom Barnaby has this lovely little exchange with him that goes something like “What is this case about?” “The murderer.” “What is it not about?” “Us.”
7. Both Barnabys are a little too happy to forgo search warrants, but I don’t know enough about British law to know exactly how close to the line they’re skirting.
8. Many other people have made this same joke, but it is AMAZING that Midsomer has any people left alive. Real estate must be remarkably cheap.
9. There also seems to be a LOT of incest on this show. To the point where I side-eye any sibling set as soon as they’re introduced.
10. There don’t seem to be any rape/sexual assault plots. Or at least not in the episodes I’ve seen. There is, of course, the incest, but it’s presented as consensual (at least as consensual as incest can be given power dynamics) and/or unwitting.
11. There is however a murder that involves a wheel of cheese. And at one point, there’s a chase scene involving a tractor.
12. It is pretty hilarious that every time poor Joyce Barnaby gets a hobby someone dies. And since this is Midsomer, that woman has a crazy amount of hobbies.
13. Ben Jones (Robin #3) comes close to having a similarly insane amount of hobbies. His tend to be more tangential to the plot though. Like Joyce will join a club and someone will die. Whereas Jones tends to just come up with some relevant hobby related info or use a relevant skill at some useful time in the investigation.
13b. It’s still equally contrived though, as there is a string of episodes in a row, where it’s like: this murder is on a golf course and relates to golf…Jones plays golf and explains the terminology to Barnaby. This next murder involves a couple of paintings, in which key clues are found in the pigs and the way one of the figures casts his line to fish. Jones happens to be a fisherman who recognizes the cast. (He also recognizes the pigs.). The NEXT episode involves a cricket game. And of course Jones plays cricket.
The dude also salsa dances, sings operatic tenor, vaults fences like a gymnast, and is a former Mason.
I mean, I appreciate that the writers have finally figured out that Barnaby’s sidekick doesn’t need to be an idiot in order to showcase how smart Barnaby is, but there’s a such thing as overcompensation. It’s a little ridiculous.
I haven’t seen all the Jones episodes, so I’m predicting an episode involving murder by hot air balloon and Jones reveals that he has been an aeronaut for years.
13c. Tangentially, it’s during Jones’s run that the show writers apparently learned about the concept of “fan service” and went, okay, we’re going to try this for one episode. They do this by having Jones grow a beard and wear hipster glasses (which, to be fair, really worked for him), infiltrate a cult which has free love as one of their tenets so the poor guy is propositioned constantly, and top it off there was a gratuitous naked shower scene.
I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s just really funny.
13d. I may be on a lowkey hunt for any and all John Barnaby (Barnaby 2.0)/Sarah Barnaby/Ben Jones threesome fic. I don’t feel remotely guilty about this, since this Barnaby is only about nine years older than Jones. Also, the power dynamic elements are mostly mitigated since Jones has Nightwinged up and flown the bat cave. I may be mixing my metaphors even as I mix up my Robins. That said, Jones is totally the sort to insist on saying “sir” in bed.
14. There is a lot of tawdry sex everywhere in this series. On the novel side, quite a bit of the tawdry sex involves actual old people. As it turns out, scandalous behavior doesn’t just fizzle when you turn fifty-five or so.
15. I want to write a crossover where Jessica Fletcher is Tom Barnaby’s mom.
16. Winter does seem to break the trend where to be a sidekick of the Barnabys you have to be either an idiot or Welsh.
17. If you live in the British Countryside, avoid any festivals, folk music concerts, historical reenactments, fundraisers, or development projects, or you will die.
18. Also, try not to be a vicar. Because you are likely to be evil or die.
19. Try not to have any secrets, because you will be blackmailed, and either you or the blackmailer will die.
20. Also, if you have an illegitimate child with your brother, and go off on the run, you should probably tell your son about his extended family before he goes off and accidentally bangs his aunt.