Making Sweden 5% nerdier than it has to be.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

With a bow

In my life I've seen the ending of quite a few television series, by which I mean a proper ending when the people making the show got to tie up all the plot points and whatnot and not an unexpected cancellation of the series.

Just of the top of my head I've seen the ending of Friends (predictable and overly mushy), Fresh Prince in Bel-Air (well-written and fairly smart), The Nanny (ok and smile worthy), Kim Possible (funny and awesome), Angel (a bit rushed but still real good), Scrubs (somewhat mushy but also nice), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (good but could've been better) and Frasier (dignified and genuinely touching).

A few days ago I saw the end of another one of my favourite tv-shows. ...ok it wasn't actually the end of the show per se but it felt like it since it was the final episode of the shows main character.

I am talking about the british crime drama Midsomer Murders and more specifically about John Nettles last episode as DCI Tom Barnaby. If you don't live in sweden you probably don't know that this was a really big thing. Bit of a tv-event I'd say.

You see for one reason or another Midsomer Murders is very popular here in sweden. And by very popular I mean that A LOT of swedes can't really imagine a summer going by without gluing their eyes to Midsomer Murders four to eight Tuesdays in a row. It's become an honest to god tradition with us and it's one that I'm very happy to keep going.

Many are the times that I've joked with my family and friends about the obscene number of deaths in Midsomer county and that joining even the most harmless looking community club will almost certainly lead to a cruel and/or unusual death for you.

The stories are hit and miss with the worst being convoluted messes and the best being entertaining and interesting mysteries. Character development was borderline non-existent. And in most episodes you could find about 101 flaws to Barnaby's methods of investigations.

Despite these flaws the swedish people love the show and happily welcome it into their homes each and every summer.

I'd say that it's the dry british wit and style that draw us in, swedes love that stuff, and then it's the familiarity of both the characters and the proceedings in the show that keeps us tuned in every year. John Nettles as Tom Barnaby is a household name around here and I know that I for one was very interested in seeing how he was going leave the series.

The episode in itself is one of the better in the series. The story was well-told and it was very much possible for the audience to solve the mystery thanks to the clues given to them. At the same time there was a twist or two in it that weren't entirely expected, in a good way. Not to mention that we got some further insight into Barnaby himself which came along with some subtle and artsy moment of peace and reflection for both the character and the audience.

In the final scene Barnaby announces his retirement and handles the torch over to his cousin John, who appears very abruptly at Tom's birthday party but whatever. Then a call comes for DCI Barnaby and only Tom realises that it's John the call is meant for. After saying their goodbyes Tom's former colleagues rushed off without him for once. Tom is left with his wife and daughter in a bit of an awkward moment before both they and the audience sort of realise that life goes on.

So yeah. Tom Barnaby leaves us not with a bang or a whimper. But with a solem bow fitting the character and the audience's love for him.

I wish John Nettles good luck in the future and look forward to whenever the next batch of Misomer mysteries arrive. Until next time.

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