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Murder Most English

Anton Rodgers , Christopher Timothy , Ronald Wilson    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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A truly ingenious and sly murder mystery series, Murder Most English features the polite, thoughtful, and completely engaging Inspector Purbright, played with gracious wiliness by Anton Rodgers. This British series from the 1970s adapted four novels by Colin Watson, an unjustly neglected mystery writer whose excellent plotting, eccentric characters, and sneaky humor are in full display. Set in the mythical and typical English town of Flaxborough, Murder Most English features some atypical goings-on: A love triangle murder that turns out to involve a singularly indiscreet secret-service agent; a murderer who uses a matrimonial service to find his prey; a sexual predator who walks sideways, like a crab, and whose affliction may be related to a pharmaceutical cartel; and a clandestine pact of upstanding citizens that unravels through a series of murders. Each two-episode story is skillfully structured, always seeming to be solved only to reveal a completely different layer of mystery. Odd and intriguing characters (played by an outstanding plethora of clever British character actors) dot every turn, deft little psychological snapshots that make the plots not merely smart but surprisingly resonant--and wonderfully funny, such as when a cranky old woman unsettles a prim church matron with the rude names of country plants. Puffing his pipe, Purbright quietly but doggedly sorts out the tangled strands, aided by the impulsive Detective Sergeant Love (Christopher Timothy) and not particularly helped by the stodgy Chief Constable Chubb (Moray Watson). Appearing in two of the stories is the stealthy Lucilla Teatime (Brenda Bruce), a con woman whose bland, benign appearance belies a steely spirit and a foul mouth. Even viewers who aren’t usually drawn to murder mysteries may enjoy Murder Most English; Colin Watson’s imagination doesn’t follow the narrow clockwork efficiency of Agatha Christie and is all the more enjoyable for it. --Bret Fetzer

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Determined British Detective Nov. 17 2010
By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Murder Most English
In great shape for a series composed in 1977. The box states: Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio that were beyond our ability to correct." Audio and video far from perfect, but not as bad as some reviewers have stated. It's picture is clear and the sound is crisp. The important question to ask before you buy -- is do you like delectable, intricate British murder mysteries?

Three thin volumes containing 73 episodes in colour(approx 344 min. long)

D.I.Purbright(Anton Rogers, May to Deember) is a typical quiet British detective of the seventies, reserved and brilliant. People seem to misinterpret British reserve into "flat" -- there's the famous British wit and an entertaining script.

From the box: "... Purbright pursues the evildoers of Flaxborough with a doggedness that belies his polite conversative and mild manner. ... Armed with courtesy, respect and steely determination, he works to uncover the truth and restore order to this most English of English towns"

That's the point this series is English. As for wit, Pulbright is training his cheerful D.S. Love (Christopher Timothy, All Creatures Great and Small), who has just leaped over a fence into a suspect's property. Taking his pipe from his lips, Purbright says: "If there's one thing as embarresing as a syntimental lawyer or a muscular clergyman, it's a demonstrative copper." Subtle British diagogue and either you get it or you don't.

Each story stands alone offering intricate, fascinating scripts performed by suburb British actors.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lame English drama - by comparison Sept. 5 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
We were disappointed in the lame drama of Murder Most English. In fact, after watching one episode, we retired the video box to the shelf. I expected the level of performance from Agatha Christie Whodunits (Miss Marpole played by Joan Hickson or Hercule Poirot played by David Suchet), or The Last Detective (Peter Davison) or Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett). A 'wooden', too-obvious turning-toward-the-camera-when-speaking spoils many a scene, despite the fact that Murder Most English includes in its cast Christopher Timothy (the wonderful actor from All Creatures Great and Small). Action is too slow, drawing room scenes too drawn out - M.M.E. altogether smacks of a low-budget movie. Too bad!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Most Enjoyable Dec 12 2009
By Gweeny
I appreciate the warning of previous reviewers of "Murder Most English" who felt that the videos' qualities were low budget and dated. However, since these videos were made in 1977 for television, and quite likely recorded direct to tape, they have the particular visual and audio qualities that one would expect from such a process 32 years ago.

The plotting is successful and the acting is creditable. I enjoyed them a great deal, and I recommend them to true fans of the mystery story.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unwatchable Aug. 13 2009
I purchased this product based on the regular Amazon "Customer who purchased...also purchased recommendation"

I received the DVD, tore open the packaging and popped the DVD into my player. The first sign of doom was the locked menu - you have to watch the ads etc before you get to the content. The second sign of doom was the (paraphrase) "this dvd was converted from film and has lower quality other DVDs"

True enough, the audio/video quality is lower than expected. Sufficiently low that I have not finished watching the episode to comment on the storyline. Knowing the A/V was sub-standard would have been good to know BEFORE purchasing the set.

This has been my only disappointment in Amazon purchases.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
By Harold Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
DI Purbright (Anton Rodgers of "Lillie" also recommended by this reviewer) works his way through crime in the fictional rural village of Flaxborough. His drone monologue way of sorting through the clues and elements of a mystery take place either through interrogations over a cup of tea or a pipe of tobacco. His intellectual approach to crime is never flustered.

His Det. Sgt. assistant, Sid Love (Christopher Timothy), is a bit more animated. His speech is more typically British and fast-paced making the Acorn Media addition of the SDH subtitles advantageous.

The stated seven episodes is a bit of a misnomer in that the first 3 take in two crime stories "Hopjoy Was Here" and "Lonelyheart 4122". One story turns into the other just as the first crime is solved. Episodes 4 & 5 are two parts of the story "The Flaxborough Crab" about neighborhood sex-maniac activity by a man who walks sideways. The final story, "Coffin, Scarcely Used", is another two-part, making up the final episodes 6 & 7. I'll say no more about the final story to refrain from spoiling your viewing. Each episode is 50 minutes. The stories to have a connection one with the other, through the town characters, more than just the two lead coppers.

The first story seemed a bit slow. After one hour I was considering this set less than a 5-star value. But then the stories picked up in interest and plot lifting the set to where I was glad to have purchased.

The DVD's themselves warn in the beginning that there is a less than 21st century level with the visual and audio aspects of the TV series. This is due to the quality of the original, dated from 1977. Because of age, although the resolution is improved, not all can be elevated to perfection. Very fair of Acorn Media to acknowledge that right on the box & discs.
These British mysteries are in 4:3 full screen, and full color.
Based on detective novels by Colin Watson.
Extra features limited to 4 actor filmographies and a bit on the writer.

Regardless, this is a fun 5-star revisiting of retro BBC TV. More outdoor rural English scenery was expected which proved a bit disappointing in the beginning. Much of the story takes place in obvious theatrical sets. But, hang on and keep watching, because like the stories, even the filmed scenery improves in quality and quantity through the final 5 episodes.

I'm glad I watched; I think you will be too.
And there is a fun final-scene finale for the entire Flaxborough Chronicle series that you WILL enjoy.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Men's Cozy Set in Midlands Flaxborough May 27 2009
By Stephanie De Pue - Published on Amazon.com
"Murder Most English," a classic British mystery series that dates from 1977, was produced by the British Broadcasting Company Birmingham, rather an unusual genealogy. The television series, which aired in the United States on Public Broadcasting System stations, is, not too surprisingly, set in the Midlands, Birmingham area. Thankfully for us, Acorn Media has provided subtitles, as Birmingham accent and usage are surely unfamiliar to us on this side of the pond: not sure how familiar they'd be on the other side of the pond, either, where, I believe, Birmingham's native speakers refer to their patois as "brum."The boxed set release consists of three DVD's and four mysteries in seven episodes, approximately 344 minutes.

The series stars Anton Rodgers (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Lillie) as Detective Inspector Purbright: outfitted in tweed and puffing a pipe, he does his best to stamp out serious crime in the fictional, sleepy country town of Flaxborough. (This town was apparently modeled after Lincoln, a Midlands town where Colin Watson, the author upon whose series of detective novels this TV series was based, worked as a journalist.) Purbright is assisted in his crime-solving efforts by Detective Sergeant Love, (Christopher Timothy,All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Collection); and, occasionally, by his boss, Chief Constable Chubb (Moray Watson (The Darling Buds of May Collection). The mysteries are ingenious and offbeat, with surprising twists and a light comic touch, and are well-acted by a distinguished company of supporting players that would have been more familiar faces in the 1970's. The current release itself warns us that, due to the age of the underlying programs, there will be occasional flaws in picture and sound. The series also shows its age in some other ways: I was stunned to see a Detective Inspector puffing away at crime scenes, but then, this D.I., and seemingly other cops, puff away in people's homes and offices, too, without seeking permission. And none of these actors, who presumably smoked in real life as well, could be described as having white teeth.

The mysteries are:

Hopjoy Was Here, (Parts 1 and 2). Hopjoy had an eye for the ladies, and hated paying his bills: he was apparently a spy, and has disappeared.

Lonelyheart 4122, (Parts 1 and 2). Local women of means sign up with a matchmaking agency and disappear. There may be a dangerous predator at work. Enter the fearless Miss Teatime....

The Flaxborough Crab, (Parts 1 and 2). The old men of the community are suddenly acting out, and the women of the town aren't safe anywhere, in church, on the street, in their own homes. Does Ms. Teatime, who makes an herbal tonic, have anything to do with it?

Coffin, Scarcely Used (Parts 1 and 2). The funeral of Councilor Carobleat is attended by his wife, to be sure, and four local notables, newspaper owner, doctor, undertaker and lawyer. Two of the gang of four are soon killed.

More than anything else, this series struck me as belonging to a mystery category I didn't know existed: a men's cozy. Most of us are familiar with women's cozies of course: think Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, in St. Mary Mead. They're meant to be not too threatening: a crime must be committed, of course; that upsets the community. But as the crime is solved, things are put back to rights. Well, "Murder Most English" seems to follow these rules, and to have been made largely by men, for men: women don't have much part in these stories. However, we can enjoy them, for their humor and lightness of touch.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Most English is the DVD debut of a British murder mystery series laced with scathing dark humor and shocking twists May 10 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Murder Most English is the DVD debut of a British murder mystery series laced with scathing dark humor and shocking twists. Based on a series of detective novels by author Colin Watson, Murder Most English: A Flaxborough Chronicle features star talent Anton Rodgers (known for his work in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" among other films), Christopher Timothy ("All Creatures Great and Small"), John Comer ("I Didn't Know You Cared") and Moray Watson ("The Darling Buds of May"). Featuring an unquestionably English hero who embodies British culture in every aspect of his attitude, down to wearing tweed and puffing on pipes, Murder Most English is an enthralling drama of the effort to unravel duplicity and bring order back to a most English town. 3 DVDs, 7 episodes, 344 minutes, subtitles.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to see it back but mind the language July 13 2009
By Minerva - Published on Amazon.com
I was delighted to find this made available again, having watched it on BBC when it first aired. It's lovely to find that people in the US have also warmed to its charms. As some reviewers have already suggested, this is NOT low-concentration span tv, the pace is leisurely (slow) and it has neither the visceral thrills of a CSI nor the chocolate box Englishness of a Miss Marple plus its 1977 shoestring budget shows. That said the charm, as with the Colin Watson novels the tales are based on, is in the dry, sly subversive wit and the steady unravelling of social pretension. However I was amused by all the talk of subtitles. No offence intended but is the accent of Lincolnshire (not Birmingham - that's where the tv studios were located) really that impenetrable to Americans when English audiences have had to deal with New York gangsters, Detroit rappers, Southern belles and Texas Cowboys without ever resorting to subtitles? Maybe some of the phrases are unfamiliar but listening and applying some context is the best way to learn a language - even if it is English.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder Most Pleasant June 27 2009
By drkhimxz - Published on Amazon.com
Neither Souchet's Hercule Poirot nor Rutherford's Miss Marple, Murder Most English is most definitely not one of the hard edged contemporary British mysteries with hard-nosed exteriors and complex interiors. It is a venture in folksy village crime solving by ordinary police who get the job done with a touch of humor. Clearly, a set-bound series with no goal of realism to drive it deep and dirty, it still creates its own ambiance which some of us find soothing and entertaining even though murder may be the initiating factor for the plot. It is unlikely to please those for whom the cutting edge-dramatic police procedural derived series is intended. The lead characters are well-cast, the speech for Americans not overly incomprehensible but requiring patient bewilderment as do many British shows, the plots interesting but not intense.
Best to give it a try if you can before buying the series.
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