Crime programmes broadly fall into two categories. There are those that are violent and sinister, where most of the action takes place somewhere with permanently overcast weather and everyone is forced to dress shabbily (unless they are the killer, who is sometimes allowed to be middle-class and shimmery, like some well-spoken Twilight vamp). Luther, Rebus and the ilk fill this role. I tend not to watch these. The motives and methods of killing are always too depressing and/or gruesome. Organs go missing and it turns out that some horrible paedophile ring is at the centre of it all. No, not my thing at all.

The other category is the crime programmes where there is an air of camp silliness about the whole thing. All the charcters are slightly batty, the setting is riduculously pleasant, and the main motive for murder is that one batty person has discovered that one of their relatives from centuries ago was killed by another batty persons relative, so they go on a massive killing spree for revenge. Midsomer Murders did this well for a long time. There was always a sense of tongue-in-cheek about the plot. Minor aristocracy flitted about big houses, villagers joined ever more elaborate social groups, people got murdered behing the WI tent at a fate. And it was sunny. All the time. Even at night there was nice weather.

Alas, it no longer feels the same. Recent episodes have drifted towards the sinister. People are being killed for reasons other than inheritance or some bizzare quirk of history. They don’t even have as many fates now. It gets worse. On a recent episode, a suspect lived on a (*gulp*) council estate. The problem is everyone involved in the show seems to be taking it seriously.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Perhaps the show is evolving because the auidence are asking it to. Maybe it’s because John Barnaby is a city cop who has moved to the country, whereas his predecessor Tom was always one the country sort. Or perhaps it’s always been more sinister then I thought it was. Besides, it still has the aristocrats flitting about in it. But if a peadophile ring shows up in the next episode, I’m gone.

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