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Friday, June 23

Popcorn & Coffee: Murder 101 Collection DVD Review


Mill Creek Entertainment; 174 minutes; $9.98

Now available on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment is the Murder 101 Collection, featuring the made-for-television movies Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses and Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery. There are no special features or extras on the single-disc.

The Murder 101 was a series of made-for-television movies that aired on the Hallmark Channel between 2006 - 2008. The movies starred Dick Van Dyke and his son Barry Van Dyke, who both also played together in the long-running mystery series Diagnosis Murder. Instead of playing father and son again, Dick Van Dyke stars as Dr. Jonathan Maxwell, a criminology professor, who teams up with an old friend's private detective son, Mike Bryant (played by Barry Van Dyke), to solve murder cases. A total of four films were made - Murder 101, College Can Be Murder, If Wishes Were Horses, and The Locked Room Mystery.

Directed by David S. Cass Sr., Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses centers on the Barwley family's prize racehorse being kidnapped. Being a friend of the family, Professor Maxwell takes up it upon himself to investigate the kidnapping. Unfortunately, what starts out as a simple ransom, quickly turns to murder. Maxwell teams up with Mike Bryant to solve the mystery.

Once again directed by David S. Cass Sr., Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery (also known as Murder 101: New Age) centers on a spiritual "healer" named Samuel (played by Charles Shauchnessy) being murdered in a locked room with four students. The twists is that all the students were will in a deep trance while Samuel was murdered. Professor Maxwell, Mike Brant, and Mike's nephew Ben (played by Barry Van Dyke's son, Shane Van Dyke) team up to solve the mystery.

Final Thoughts: To me completely honest, I thought this collection contained the Diagnosis Murder movies that were made after the series was cancelled. I wasn't even aware Dick & Barry Van Dyke played in a series of movies called Murder 101 until I received the DVD to review.

From my understanding, this release marks the very first-time the Murder 101 films have been released to DVD. I'm not for sure why Mill Creek Entertainment only released the third and fourth films instead of the first two movies. Or they could have just released all four films together.

Anyhow, both movies were clearly filmed on an extremely low-budget. Besides from Dick & Barry Van Dyke, the acting from the rest of the cast in both films are horrible. The bad dialogue and predictable plots doesn't help either.

Overall, I still enjoyed watching the Murder 101 Collection, despite the all cheesiness. I would only recommend the title to fans of made-for-Hallmark movies.


*Note : I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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