"Midsomer Murders" The Dark Rider (TV Episode 2012) Poster

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And behold a pale horse…
Tweekums2 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As the near series begins it is time for more murder and mayhem is the most dangerous corner of rural England. The episode opens with an elderly man going onto the roof of his house to fix the flag; he is startled by what appears to be a headless horseman on a grey horse and falls to his death. This isn't any old house it the hall belonging to the DeQuetteville family and one of their ancestors, Geoffrey DeQuetteville, lost his head in the Civil War; could his ghost have returned… or was the horseman all too human? It doesn't take long before there is another death and this one is clearly murder. As is usually the case in Midsomer there are plenty of suspects including just about every member of the DeQuetteville family and their neighbours, whose family, the Fleetwoods, clashed with the DeQuettevilles centuries ago at the battle of Naseby. We don't just have ancient bad blood between the families; there is also a bet on how a forthcoming battle re-enactment will go.

This episode was as bonkers as I've come to expect from 'Midsomer Murders', which is why it was so enjoyable! The idea that anybody would believe that there was really somebody riding around without a head is of course preposterous but in Midsomer people will believe that. It is almost as unlikely that the re-enactment would be allowed to take place after a murder but it was… which provided some laughs at Sarah Barnaby's expense. The regular actors were able supported by a good cast of guest stars, including James Callis who did a great job playing identical twins with very different personalities, Natalie Mendoza who played the delightfully obnoxious Sasha Fleetwood. If you are a regular Midsomer fan you'll know what to expect and probably enjoy this outing; if you haven't seen previous stories you'll probably be a little confused; not by the mystery but by the surreal nature of much of what happens!
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"If there is such a thing as no guts no glory, then "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a true story."
Sleepin_Dragon15 May 2017
I have always loved the idea of a headless horseman, there is something so wonderfully dark and magical about the concept. So it comes as no surprise that the opening sequences are among my favourite in Midsomer's history, that image of a man in a Stormy Castle visited by a headless Horseman is so powerful. This is one dysfunctional family, you'd not want to be living next door to the deQuettevilles.

It boasts a fantastic cast, William Gaunt, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Cassidy, Paul Ritter, they really did pull out all the stops to assemble such a gathering. They all combine to make some fantastic characters, especially the pairing of Izzy and Ludo (Bron and Gaunt,) they are wonderfully eccentric.

Series fifteen truly did open up in style, the usual idyllic locations, a story which couldn't be more imaginative and Middle England if it tried, The Houses used are incredible, the battle scenes and costumes look fantastic, and the killings are wonderfully Gothic and macabre.

A brilliant episode 9/10
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The masterpiece of the 15th season.
dsmoscowrent1 April 2013
A really good classical MM episode! Aitkens did again a terrific job! The scripts written by him are always unique and unexpectedly twisted. Though this episode reminds of the first Aitkens' script "The vixen's run" (family secrets and so on), still it remains genuine and fresh. The idea of a horseman without a head is just brilliant and was fulfilled in a very convincing, unobtrusive way. Twin-brothers, one of whom gets killed and another one is doomed by the Headless Horsemen - another good idea of Aitkens. The allusions to the English Civil War are also to be mentioned here. And of course - the family feud between the DeQuettevilled and the Fleetwoods - the favourite artifice of Aitkens who presented us once again a real masterpiece that is certainly worth seeing twice. Aitkens managed to create the atmosphere of suspense and mystery evolving around an ancient family ghost, at the same time it all doesn't seem to be the raving of a madman, the plot is built very logically, no loose end or unexplained tricks, you fully enjoy an intellectual battle with the suspense master like Aitkens. And of course the biggest surprise awaits you in the end since the identity of the culprit is absolutely unexpected, though the motives are quite understandable and comprehensible. In one word, Aitkens did it again. It seems that he is the only script writer who saves the series nowadays.
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the headless horseman
blanche-25 April 2016
Written by one of MM's better scriptwriters, Michael Aitkins, "The Dark Rider," the opening of the 15th season, concerns a yearly re- enactment battle.

As the DeQuetteville family readies itself for the Civil war battle, Bentham De Qutteville falls from a roof after he spots a headless horseman. This follows the family legend that states this will happen during a Civil War reenactment. The headless horseman is the ghost of Sir Geoffrey De Quetteville, and his appearance means death to anyone who see him. Then Toby De Q's twin brother dies after seeing the horseman.

Barnaby is having a problem buying any of it - the horseman is on a gray horse, and no one seems to have one. But the death toll mounts.

Good episode, intriguing, and atmospheric. I'm still not nuts about John Barnaby. His wife was involved in the re-enactment, so it looks like they're trying to do what they did with Tom and Joyce, where she was often somehow involved with his case. Rather than doing that, they should have tried another direction - these two are not Tom and Joyce.
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'Midsomer Murders' and The Headless Horseman
TheLittleSongbird4 March 2017
When in its prime (a vast majority of Seasons 1-9), 'Midsomer Murders' was a great show and one that is watched and re-watched frequently. Seasons 10-13 became more uneven, with three of the show's worst episodes coming from Seasons 11 and 13, but there were a few solid episodes and "Blood Wedding" and especially "Master Class" were gems.

After John Nettles retired and Neil Dudgeon and the new character of John Barnaby took over, 'Midsomer Murders' just hasn't been the same, if anybody's read my reviews for the Season 14 episodes the reasons are detailed in those. After a mostly disappointing Season 14, apart from two good episodes and a decent one, Season 15 gets off to a very good if not quite classic start.

Still not crazy about the characters of Sarah and Kate. Sarah has very little charm and warmth and her chemistry with John is not really one of two people in love let alone husband and wife. Kate is just bland with little personality.

Otherwise, for a John Barnaby-era episode "The Dark Rider" was very satisfying. As always, the production values cannot be faulted as usual, it's beautifully and atmospherically shot with suitably picturesque scenery. The music fits perfectly, with some lush jauntiness and sometimes an ominous quality, and the haunting theme tune is one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre.

The story itself is fun with a creepy atmosphere, wisely on the most part not taking itself too seriously while rarely descending into over-silliness even with the odd preposterous idea (then again even classic 'Midsomer Murders' had silly parts). It is easy to follow without being simplistic and has enough twists and turns and eccentric characters without being confusing. The script likewise doesn't feel as heavy as the later seasons tended to be.

Don't have as much a problem with Barnaby, who is not as smug or as disdainful as he can be, the writing for Jones which is not quite as dumbed down or their chemistry which is not as mean-spirited as often are. Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hughes do what they can, James Callis and Natalie Mendoza have the juiciest supporting characters and do wonders with them and adorable and comedically gifted Sykes steals every scene he's in.

In conclusion, very good and promising start to Season 15. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Pure Excellence
kermithh25 August 2019
There's nothing better on a Sunday night at 9 PM than a juicy episode of MM. Just tuck yourself under a warm cover and enjoy.
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A great mysterious episode
lbowdls30 May 2019
When I first saw this episode not sure what I thought maybe I was distracted. But I've just watched it now and realised what a great unpredictable mystery it is, the old headless horseman gets a great new workout. And in the mix is one of those episodes involving and old family in an ancient castle like mansion. Yes it's been done thousands of time and Midsomer continues the Agatha Christie tradition in the brilliant whodunnit till the final reveal!
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Sexiest episode yet
parkkelp4 January 2020
If you fantasize about English maidens? Then this episode has it all for you. Fiona as gorgeous as ever and words fail me as to Natalia Mendoza!
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