A very amusing collection, this one. The various tales are a mix of dark comedy and thriller, with occasional forays into horror or science fiction. Most of the episodes are so cleverly written that the plot twists and ending are completely unexpected. Dawn French is in great, protean shape, delivering one fine performance after another. Some of her more sinister and grotesque creations seem to belong in the oeuvre of a modern-day Dickens.
"Murder Most Horrid" is also pleasantly layered and sophisticated, poking fun at other genres and art forms. One of the best episodes contains a ferocious spoof on television programmes for children. Many of these children's programmes invite the public to send in suggestions about possible topics and challenges : a visit to a mining shaft, perhaps, or a boat trip on a new canal. Here you've got a middle-aged presenter feeling threatened by her new assistant, whose youth and good nature are turning him into a popular favorite. A deeply unpleasant woman, she delights in inventing ever more dangerous and outlandish challenges for him - on behalf of the kiddies, of course. She's in for a good dose of poetic justice, though not in the way you think... Another episode deals with a theatrical company. The viewer gets both a play-within-a-play and a black-hearted dissection of life on the stage, complete with feuds, love affairs and swollen egos. The air kisses alone are a joy to behold.
"Murder" also pokes fun at itself AND at its British viewing public, for instance by introducing a female character obsessed with making false confessions. When this unbalanced woman is not annoying the police somewhere, she sits wide-eyed in front of the television, watching various crime and thriller shows. Her closest companions are domestic cats, with names like "Morse" or "Inspector Frost"...
I get the impression that the quality began to sag during the later seasons, but overall this is a remarkable series. Do watch it. It will make you laugh, wince and shudder, often at the same time.