Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Based on the novels by Caroline Graham, the British mystery program Midsomer Murders starred John Nettles as Tom Barnaby, veteran detective chief inspector of the deceptively pastoral county of Midsomer. For reasons best known to Ms. Graham, Barnaby's jurisdiction seemed to be populated exclusively by oddballs and eccentrics, with virtually every household harboring at least one closetful of skeletons. No matter where the good inspector turned, he was certain to come nose to nose with a baffling murder mystery. In the course of his investigations, Barnaby would frequently bring to light such diverse elements as homosexuality, drug addiction, infidelity, incest, sorcery and even a spot or two of S&M. Through it all, he remained cool, unflappable, and thoroughly professional, adhering strictly to the book and never overstepping his bounds (though admittedly, he did step on a few sensitive toes). Barnaby also possessed a dry wit and contagious sense of humor, which considerably lightened up the grimmer aspects of each story. A devoted family man, Barnaby was occasionally aided and abetted by his wife Joyce (Jane Wymark), whom he loved dearly despite her less than stellar cooking skills, and by his perky young daughter Cully (Laura Howard) an aspiring actress. Also on hand was Midsomer's sure-handed pathologist Dr. George Bullard (Barry Jackson). For the first 29 episodes, Barnaby's assistant was young, hardworking Sgt. Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), who after being promoted to Inspector and transferred to another county was replaced by streetwise Sgt. Dan Scott (John Hopkins)--who in turned was succeeded by Detective Constable Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). Introduced with a TV-movie adaptation of Caroline Graham's The Killings at Badger's Field on March 23, 1997, the Midsomer Murders series proper made its ITV network bow on July 22, 1998, offering four to eight feature-length episodes each year. The program was picked up for American consumption by the A&E network beginning July 5, 1998.