Monday, February 16, 2009

Mendocino Murders

So on Valentine’s Day I was informed by my friend Clare of some sad and shocking news: John Nettles – who plays the shrewdly dapper Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murders – is leaving the show at the end of this season. For those of you who haven’t seen it but are fans of cozy British mysteries, Midsomer is simply the most guiltily delectable. For the past 12 years, Nettles and a delightfully incompetent, fish-out-of-water, city-savvy sidekick have been sweating it out in Midsomer – a quaint but inexplicably deadly county in which no less than 200 people have been murdered. As they plunder the depths of the county, they uncover wrongdoings – infidelity, blackmail, incest, you name it – as incongruous with the picturesque countryside as they are evil. Mixing cozy, granny-esque elements like book clubs and high tea with improbable and oft ridiculous murder is simply a divine combination and this show should truly not be missed.

So as the intelligent reader may have already concluded, I was crushed by the news that Nettles is planning on leaving. This is really pretty huge news to a diehard fan like me and while I wish him the best in his career, I spent the better part of V-day thinking that there was no way the show could go on without him. But now I’ve hatched a plan that, if followed out, will not only turn the lemons that blossomed when John told us this grievous news into lemonade but will perpetuate the brilliance of the show and give me a job as well!

So here’s the deal: As dedicated fans already know (yawn, old news), while DCI Barnaby has remained a constant character throughout the series, his sidekick has changed three times. The show started with the adorably inept Sergeant Troy – a cute, slightly wet behind the ears, darling who gave the show a sort of comic softness that Barnaby alone could not provide. While I was distraught when I learned that Troy left the show, I was surprised to discover that the show didn’t suck without him.

Phase 2 (Post Troy) featured a new sidekick – Sergeant Dan Scott – who, while not as bumbling as his predecessor, was equally loveable and even better looking. Phase two was a success!

While I haven’t progressed this far in my viewing of the show, I do know that in 2005, the tides again turned when Scott left the show and was replaced by DS Ben Jones. While I haven’t seen any of these episodes, I’m going to venture a guess that Phase 3 (Post Scott) still has had some of the glory of its two former phases.

Now, for Phase Four (Post Barnaby), I have an ingenious solution for what to do with the loss of Nettles. He should be replaced by me and Clare and the name of the show should be changed to Mendocino Murders.

This will successfully bring new life and scope to the enterprise, and provide me with a job amidst this abysmal economy. Mendocino Murders is something Clare and I have been discussing for ages, and once years ago we commissioned and starred in a highly controversial detective play in which Clare played the inspector and I the suspect. Thus, we have plenty of experience. I suggest Clare should be the main inspector (she’s British, so it will be a fitting homage to Midsomer even though the show will now be set in California), and I the sidekick, but we can work all of that out in pre-production.

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