Midsomer is one of those quasi-mythical areas in the heart of England that everyone would like to believe exists. Rolling green countryside, small villages with thatched cottages, rose gardens, well-tended farms, and a population with more than its fair share of quirkiness and a tendency to commit murder.
The local police seem to have plenty to do, the investigations ably led by Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby and his sidekick Sgt. Troy. Barnaby is somewhat unusual for a TV detective in that he doesn't seem to have any quirks - he's a straightforward, decent, happily married cop. He has a beaming smile and a pleasant manner. But his mind is sharp and let a suspect or witness push his or her luck with him and they soon get a glimpse of the steel beneath the surface.
The basic formula is that pioneered by Morse. Feature length episodes give plenty of time to set up the characters, let the viewer see something of what is going on around the place and admire the scenery, and allow several more inter-linked murders to take place before the initial case is solved.
At first I was not too taken with Midsomer. The set-up was a bit predictable and seemed engineered with an eye to the export market, and Barnaby somewhat bland after the dysfunctional Morse and the dyspeptic Dalziel (do you get "Dalziel and Pascoe" on American TV? If not, you're missing something - watch out for it). But the place and the man have grown on me and now I'm a fan and a regular watcher. Give them a chance....