Midsomer Murders: Red In Tooth And Claw. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7/10

Cast: Neil Dudgeon, Nick Hendrix, Fiona Dolman, Steve Pemberton, Aisling Loftus, Simon Nagra, Michael Obiora, Tom Price, Amit Shah, Glen Webster, Jo Wheatley, Sara Crow, Maxim De Villiers, Stirling Gallagher, Sean Gallagher, Susan Hampshire, Stephen Hawke, Vanessa Hehir, Raj Awasti, Navider Bhatti.

There are many ways to die in Midsomer, some so gruesome, so shocking that it is any wonder that people don’t move to the county just for the thrill of finding out what ingenious way they will perish at the hands of a potential murderer. Few though will expect to find themselves seeing their last visions of Earth, taking in the scenes of their final moments on Earth surrounded by rabbits.

Red in Tooth and Claw might not be Midsomer Murders finest moment but it is an episode that captures the complexity of the social order of village life, especially in the modern age when the structure of once peaceful means is tilted in the favour of money rather than tradition. It is money that is at heart of many murderers but when it is coupled for the possibility of love or sex, it becomes a double edged sword that puts the shading over even the simplest of village pastimes, the local breeders’ fair.

The imagination of the writers throughout the entire Midsomer history has never been one to allow a murder to anything but hair-raising, given free range to run riot and it would not be the same without a dead body making the day complete before the titles have even begun to disappear into the warren of the story. The only issue is that it requires the strength to not only a great lead in such a story but a Detective Sergeant who can be a match for Barnaby’s tenacious firm grip on the deductions. It was shown in the previous episode just how much someone like Jones is missed and it is not Nick Hendrix’s fault that the viewers miss that type of engagement; when you are thrust into the Midsomer limelight just when the average fan was getting used to Gwilym Lee’s performance as the stand in Sergeant, it is bound to feel in respect, hollow.

With Steve Pemberton making the most of his ability to make any scene feel creepy and unnerving, the work of a master who has finely tuned their ability to make a moment on screen verge on the sinister, Red in Tooth and Claw held on to its ideal with fingers grabbing the fur for all its might. It though seemed a huge drop in expectation from the previous week’s offering.

Ian D. Hall