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Murder Most English

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					Murder Most English already at UK33 of 36 people found the following review helpful:
        A Men's Cozy Set in Midlands Flaxborough, May 27, 2009
By
Stephanie DePue


This review is from: Murder Most English (DVD)
"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.

				
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