Aspect ratio: 4:3
Audio: English Stereo
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When Inspector Morse
first appeared on television in 1987, nobody could have predicted that it would run into the next century, maintaining throughout a quality of scripts and storylines that raised the genre of the detective series to a new level. Much of its success can be attributed to John Thaw's total immersion in the role. Morse is a prickly character and not obviously easy to like. As a detective in Oxford with unfulfilled academic propensities, he is permanently excluded from a world of which he would dearly love to be a part. He is at odds with that world--and with his colleagues in the police force--most of the time. Passionate about opera and "proper beer", he is a cultural snob for whom vulgarity causes almost physical pain. As a result, he lives from one disillusionment to another. And he is scarred--more deeply than he would ever admit--by past relationships. But he also has a naïve streak and, deep down, sensitivity, which makes him a fascinating challenge for women.
At the heart of Morse's professional life is his awkward partnership with Detective Sergeant Lewis, the resolutely ordinary, worldly sidekick who manages to keep his boss in an almost permanent state of exasperation while retaining his grudging respect. It's a testament to Kevin Whately's consistently excellent performance that from such unpromising material, Lewis becomes as indispensable to the series as Barrington Pheloung's hypnotic, classic theme music. Morse's investigations do occasionally take him abroad to more exotic locations, but throughout 14 successful years of often gruesome murders, the city of Oxford itself became a central character in these brooding two-hour dramas: creator Colin Dexter said he finally had to kill Morse off because he was giving Oxford a bad reputation as a dangerous place! --Piers Ford