Thursday, October 24, 2019

Even though people tend to get murdered at a much higher rate than the national average, the villages in Midsomer county really get into the Christmas spirit in the charming Holiday Pop-Up episode A Christmas Haunting (originally shown in 2013).

DCI John Barnaby is having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.  His long-time partner Ben Jones has moved to Brighton to take up a position as a Detective Inspector.  This leaves Barnaby feeling somewhat adrift and not very enthusiastic about meeting Jones's replacement, DS Charlie Nelson.  Nelson has no time to settle in before he is called out to his first (although surely not his last!) murder.

Ghosts never take a day off in the village of Morton Shallows, given its status as the Most Haunted Village in all of England 2003 (I wonder what the ghostly inhabitants of the Tower of London have to say about that?).  Most of the paranormal activity in the area is centered around the legend of Rose Wilton.  The story goes that 127 years ago, the young girl Rose brought a holiday offering to the local manor house, but was tossed out into the cold.  Seeking refuge in a nearby cave, she froze to death.  Her spirit is said to haunt the manor house, the local pub (which was her father's blacksmith shop during her lifetime) and the cave where she died.  All three locations are hosting ghost hunting activities in the hopes of recording some proof of spirit activities.

The manor house is currently owned by Simon Fergus-Johnson, who recently inherited it after the death of his father.  He lives there with his alcoholic, unimpressed wife Tabby and somewhat neglected daughter Pippa.  Pippa and her boyfriend Dev are university students who are attempting to record the ghostly activities as part of Dev's Ph.D. coursework.  On the first Fright Night attempt to record the ghost, one of the villagers is stabbed to death in the manor house, by a sword made by the tragic Rose's blacksmith father.

In investigating the death, Barnaby and Nelson encounter the usual not-very-well-kept village secrets:  affairs, money problems, alcoholism, betrayals, etc.  How to sort out which of these motives was enough to kill for?  As the villagers of Morton Shallows are desperate for tourists, they don't let an unsolved murder stand in their way of trying to drum up publicity for the town.  They go on with further scheduled ghost hunts at the local pub and caves, with predictably unpleasant results.

Sarah Barnaby, John's wife, is getting into the Christmas spirit and decorating the house (and Sykes the dog) while expecting the couple's first child.  She is also taking a keen interest in DS Nelson and is perplexed that Barnaby is unable to answer the most basic questions on his new partner's background, appearance and housing situation!

It is always a joy to visit the villages of Midsomer and see what the Barnabys are up to.  This pop-up edition DVD contains only the one episode, but it does provide a cheerful 3D image of Barnaby and a festive Sykes.  An additional feature is an interview with Gwilym Lee, who plays newly arrived DS Nelson.  This is one of three holiday pop-up collectibles from Acorn which were released on October 15.  The other two are feature Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and The Brokenwood Mysteries.  They are designed to be displayed together for an attractive holiday scene that any Anglophile would be proud of!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Midsomer Murders: Holiday Pop-Up Collectible from Acorn in exchange for this review


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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