This episode of Midsomer Murders centers around the amateur theatrical group in Causton, of which Joyce Barnaby, wife of Inspector Tom Barnaby, is a member. The members of the group are a motley group, and seem to be very true to the types who take part in amateur theatricals. These individuals have known each other so well and so long that there are petty resentments and misunderstandings simmering. All of this builds up to murder while working on the current play, Amadeus. Barnaby has done volunteer work for this group over the years, so he knows all the suspects well.
I recently reread the book that this episode is based on and my review is here. I enjoyed it just as much this time around.
The episode is faithful to the book, for the most part. It includes the preparations for the play, the in-fighting among the various members of the theatrical group, the performance of the play itself. Some of the characters in the book have been cut and relationships changed. The adaptation also differs in that there is a murder that occurs at the beginning of the episode. Personally I did not find that this added anything to the story. Initially it is unclear what the link is between the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society and this death. Caroline Graham wrote the screen play, so she must have felt theses changes were needed or at least beneficial for adaptation as a TV episode.
The TV adaptations don't have the same depth of dissection of English village life as the books did, but I enjoy them all the same. I love the characters, even the boorish Sergeant Troy. The book spends much more time explaining why Joyce has given up her budding career as a singer to be the wife of a policeman. This is just one example of how the character development can have more depth in a book. But each entertains in its own way.
Only five of the seven books in the Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham were adapted for television. Death of a Hollow Man was the second book in the series and the fourth episode in the TV series. The episode first aired in 1998. It stars John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby and Daniel Casey as Sgt Troy. Joyce is played by Jane Wymark. Cully Barnaby (Laura Howard) plays a significant part in this episode, as she does in the book.
This TV adaptation is submitted for the 2014 Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey.