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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 Whateley'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 stating he finally had to kill Morse off because he was giving Oxford a bad reputation as a dangerous place! -- Piers Ford
At first, the pace of the drama was slow and a little bit irritating but I recognised John Thaw from that superb action show, the "Sweeney" and Patrick Troughton as the irrepressible second Doctor Who. It did not take long before I was hooked by the simple device of trying to figure out whodunnit. Usually in these things, especially Columbo, it does not take that long to figure out but in this case it was clear that there were red herrings and little cul-de-sacs aplenty to intrigue the viewer.
The main character was often morose and grumpy, with no time for the trivia of life and did not bear fools gladly. Unlike most other shows, this Morse did not pander to popular culture, utilizing it to sell the show. Instead it was clearly aimed at a more highbrow audience yet through a medium that was often the subject of disdain in those circles.
Pretty soon the two hours of leisurely paced drama was over and that was IT. As I lived near Oxford I sought out the locations on my next visit. It took some time to digest the content of the drama over and above the story itself, the insider's view of the contradictions of the city of Oxford, the juxtaposition of town and gown etc.
But getting back to the story itself. This is more of a movie than a TV show. It is a gripping, compelling piece of police drama set against a backdrop of relative opulence and wealth as well as against a working class city background.Read more ›
One shows the darker side of Morse the other a traditional Morse/Oxford feast for the eyes.
The book "The Dead of Jericho" is one of the finest Colin Dexter outings - and it moved well onto the small screen. Once again the possibility of a relationship for the romantically inept Morse is the central theme of The Dead of Jericho. This is when you see the complexity and the sadness at the core of the Morse character. This is one of my favorites.
The "Silent World of Nicholas Quinn" is a more traditional Morse romp through the murderous colleges of Oxford - with frustrated, (in all possible ways) ambitious dons all trying to knock each other off. Great fun - and with the background of Oxford, luducrously posh Dons with the glint of murder in their eyes, and those wonderful college quads this is also a visual feast.
What a way to spend 4 hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon.