Midsomer Murders (1997– )
7.2/10
493
12 user

The Straw Woman 

Trailer
1:47 | Trailer
Midsomer comes closer and closer to its boiling point when a priest is burned to death inside the effigy of a straw woman and more people burst into flames spontaneously as though by witchcraft.

Director:

Sarah Hellings

Writers:

Jeff Dodds (screenplay), Caroline Graham (characters)
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Nettles ... DCI Tom Barnaby
John Hopkins John Hopkins ... Sergeant Dan Scott
Jane Wymark ... Joyce Barnaby
Laura Howard ... Cully Barnaby
Barry Jackson ... Dr Bullard
Keith Barron ... Alan Clifford
Maggie O'Neill ... Agnes Waterhouse
Kelly Hunter ... Kate Malpas
Susannah Wise ... Liz Francis
Richenda Carey ... Margaret Hopkins
Richard Cordery ... Dr. John Cole
Jemima Rooper ... Jo Clifford
Daniel Weyman ... Matthew Cole
Jonathan Hackett Jonathan Hackett ... Rev Jim Hale
Martin Herdman ... Jed Fox
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Storyline

When the curate of the local church in Midsomer Parva is burned alive in the effigy of the straw woman, DCI Tom Barnaby and DS Dan Scott find themselves investigating what must be a murder. Many of the villagers lay the blame on Alan Clifford who has made his fortune in the sex industry and has moved into the local manor house. There were others in the village however that objected to what they saw as a pagan festival. When the vicar is also killed - he too is burned to death in what some believe is the result of spontaneous combustion - the police have difficulty keeping some of the villagers from taking justice into their own hands. As the death toll keep mounting, Barnaby realizes that the solution is to be found in old parish records. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 February 2004 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bentley Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jonathan Hackett plays Rev Jim Hale in this episode. He previously played the role of Reverend Thorne in episode 4.4, Midsomer Murders: Who Killed Cock Robin? (2001). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Margaret Hopkins: Evening, Vicar. Encouraging turnout.
Rev Jim Hale: Indeed.
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Soundtracks

Midsomer Murders
(Theme Song)
Written by Jim Parker
Performed by Celia Sheen
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User Reviews

 
Burning with disappointment
22 January 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Quite easily the worst episode of Season 7 ("Sins of Commission" is also a seemingly controversial episode, personally thought it was very good until the contrived last 15 minutes with the killer's ridiculously lazy motive). Not only that, would even go far to say that it is to me the worst 'Midsomer Murders' episode since "The Electric Vendetta".

Starting with the good things, 'Midsomer Murders' has always been a great-looking show even in the worst episodes. "The Straw Woman" is no exception, as ever the production values are top notch, with to die for scenery, the idyllic look of it contrasting very well with the story's creepiness, and while there is a quaintness thematically "The Straw Woman" is one of the show's darkest and this is matched by a dark visual look when needed.

The music fits perfectly, whether quirky, lush or ominous, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre. The acting is strong all round, with the actors really doing the best they can with material beneath them. John Nettles is magnetic to watch as always, and a relaxed John Hopkins works perfectly with him. Their spirited chemistry is also a plus. "The Straw Woman" gets some credit for giving a creepy horror-like vibe (with some neat homages to the likes of 'The Wicker Man', 'Lord of the Flies' and 'The Crucible') that did give some creepiness and suspense.

For those good things, however, it was clear that the writers for "The Straw Woman" tried very hard with the atmosphere and the homages but forget to make the story itself engaging or even worse make sense. Some of the episode is a slog while a lot of it is convoluted, the second most convoluted of the Tom Barnaby-era after "The Electric Vendetta", and at times illogical. The killer's motives made no sense whatsoever, and even for the concept the murders were far too grisly ('Midsomer Murders' have had some brutal deaths, but these deaths belong in an 18-certificate horror film).

Anybody expecting fun and colourful supporting characters, often a large part of the show's appeal, will be deeply disappointed. All the supporting characters are either dull or made to look like idiots, and religious nuts will take big issue with how the religious characters are written here. The script is missing the quirky humour and is just too silly and confused to provoke thought or maintain consistent interest. Scott's unprofessionalism here was also a turn-off, don't think there's any other episode with him that has him doing things that would realistically put his job on the line.

Overall, a burning disappointment, the worst of the seventh season and one of the worst of the Tom Barnaby-era. 4/10 Bethany Cox


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