on 28 June 2003
One cold rainy night in England with nothing to do I turned on my television (only four channels available) and found a new show called Inspector Morse. I have always been a fan of the detective story in print and had read extensively in the genre. Similarly I was a great action buff, with one of my favorites being the Streets of San Francisco (I wonder why that is not available on tape or DVD?).
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. It is a story of a dreaming city, of intellectuals and academics, a story of the mundane, of passions and secrets. It is the story of a man of Oxford and at once against the rituals and spectacle that the University has to offer.
At the end of this show, I came quietly. I have had the pleasure to have enjoyed every minute of Morse - being entertained and perplexed until the final moment when the killer is revealed.
This is a great introduction to a marvellous run. One last thought - how measured and appropriate the incidental music and theme are.
Full marks all round!
on 30 January 2002
An interesting pair to put together on one tape.
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.
As devoted a fan of Inspector Morse, played by John Thaw, as I was. I had never seen the first episode in series one. I lived the series, and I was so sad to see it end. I had read several of the books by Colin Dexter in the series, and, now, after all these years, I have seen the first.
John Thaw was an actor of high acclaim. He starred as the melancholy and romantic Inspector Morse. And, as we find out, he never used his first name. He found pleasure in ale, classical music and difficult crossword puzzles. In this episode we meet Sergeant Lewis, played by Kevin Whately. Morse uses his intellect and lust for truth to investigate death and murder in the English university town of Oxford. He loved women, and as the series proceeds we meet many of them, however, he was unable to find a permanent relationship.
This first episode, 'The Dead of Jericho' was first seen in January 1987. Morse meets a young woman, Anne Stavely, played by a very young, Gemma Jones, at a classical chorale. Morse is taken with her, and they go out for drinks. He discovers as he sees her home, that she is involved with someone else. Hope makes plans, however, to pick her up for their big day when the chorale sings in public. He goes to pick her up, finds the door open but no one is home. He later learns she has been found dead, hanging. This is not his case, but he hones in. After a bit, the Inspector in charge of the case is promoted to Superintendent, and Morse is put in charge.
Thus begins the famous Morse/Lewis partnership.
Morse suspects foul play and sets out to discover the truth. The esteemed, Anthony Minghella wrote the episode, and it was directed by Alastair Reid. This episode still holds up today. It is fun to see these actors playing in the prime of their lives. You can go home again, in a way.
Recommended. prisrob 04-06-14
on 9 November 2000
This was the first programme, originally broadcast in January 1987, which set a standard for contemporary crime thrillers that most are still trying to emulate. The screenplay was written by Anthony Minghella, long before he was to find fame on the big screen, and is tantalizigly close to the original book without being a mere transcription. The quality of the cinematography, the atmosphere created, and the surperb casting of both Morse and Lewis (John Thaw and Kevin Whately respectively) lift a good book into a quite differnt league in the visual medium. If you have enjoyed the later Morse television programmes but missed this I strongly recommend this as the place where it all began.
on 21 May 2014
The Dead of Jericho
Originally aired in the UK on the 6th January 1987.
Book published in 1981
Colin Dexter Appearance - He walks through the college at 45m09s.
Directed by Alistair Reid.
Written by Anthony Minghella.
Anne Stavely is a music teacher, (she proves the theory of nominative determinism), and sings in a local Choral Society as does our hero, Inspector Morse. Morse is attracted to Anne but unfortunately for Morse she is in love with her former employer. When Anne is found hanged in her kitchen, Morse is determined to discover the truth of why she committed suicide and what drove her to it.
Here it is , the first episode of a series that would captivate me to this very day. With a great actor in the leading role and being ably supported by the British institution that is Kevin Whately. Throw in some great British character actors like Patrick Troughton and Gemma Jones and with hindsight it is difficult to imagine the show failing.
I have to admit that this particular episode doesn't feature in my top ten all time favourite episodes. However, when the episode is put into context, i.e. the first episode of the first series and taking on a new format of a two hour show, then it can be seen as a fabulous episode that sets up Morse's character for future episodes. Thankfully, Morse's leather jacket and hat combination never resurfaced in future episodes.
The episode starts off like an episode of The Sweeney (the section about the raid on the garage at least) and one wonders if this intentional by the writer Anthony Minghella. Is it possible he was trying to wrong-foot the audience? Before that scene we have the incongruous Vivaldi music playing from Morse's car as he drives to the garage and then of course the cut scenes of the Choral Society. The audience must have wondered what kind of detective show they were watching. I love the incongruity of the typical police show scene with a raid on a crooked garage and the sound of Vivaldi and Parry. How many of the audience were waiting for John Thaw to jump out of the car and shout, 'You're nicked'?
There are two small problems I have with the episode. Firstly, is the Agatha Christie style gathering of the suspects at Anne Stavely's house. This scene just doesn't work in relation to the rest of the episode. Thankfully, there was no such scenes in future episodes that I can remember. Secondly, the blackmail letter received by Alan Richards. Whose letter did he receive? George Jackson sent a blackmail letter as did Ned Murdoch. Was this a mistake in the script or am I missing something.
A great cast with a solid performance from all concerned. The interaction between Morse and Lewis is excellent and sets us up nicely for forthcoming episodes.
Memorable Line - "You're a clever sod but you don't say the right things to the right people." Spoken by Strange to Morse.
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn
Originally aired in the Uk on 13th January 1987
Book published on May 5th 1977
Directed by Brian Parker
Written by Julian Mitchell
Nicholas Quinn, a hard of hearing academic, 'overhears', via his ability to lip-read, an apparent attempt to sell the answers to the examinations set by the Foreign Examinations Syndicate for whom Nicholas Quinn worked. Subsequently, Nicholas Quinn is found dead having apparently committed suicide. But Morse is convinced it is a case of murder and with cryptic clues, crosswords and puzzles being part of the plot, Morse is in his element.
Another great episode and one that moved the series along nicely. The Morse and Lewis relationship is beginning to form into an recognizable partnership of the acolyte and the master. I love the scene where Morse forces Lewis to pour sherry for both of them to prove his theory of why Nicholas Quinn's apparent suicide was murder. It is such a good scene because it begins with Lewis sneering like an errant schoolboy when told he has to drink sherry to him then looking incredulous when Morse tells him he is dead. Then Lewis becomes impressed by Morse's reasoning as to how Quinn was murdered.
Like episode one this episode is full of great British character actors and it also includes the lovely Barbara Flynn whom I had a huge crush on..................................sorry drifted off into a pleasant reverie there. Moving swiftly on. Amusingly, the episode includes a rather prudish impression about the the film Last Tango in Paris and in particular categorizing it as a pornographic film. It isn't a great film but is certainly not pornographic.
Again as in the first episode we had an Agatha Christie type setting when Morse calls for a meeting of all the Syndics and during that meeting he questions Monica Height and arrests Dr. Bartlett. Personally, I found the scene superfluous and I can only assume that the episode writer, Julian Mitchell, was alluding to the previous book/TV detectives either ironically or as a nod in admiration to their work.
I liked the character of Ogleby, played by Michael Gough, and it is easy to imagine that he and Morse would have become friends. One can see those two confirmed bachelors sitting around on an evening, drinking the best whisky, solving crosswords and putting the world to rights.
I wasn't convinced by the ending when Morse is attacked by the murderer, (I won't say who for those who may not have seen the episode) it just didn't ring true though of course the murderer may have simply lost all sense of right and wrong by this time. However, I do like Lewis standing over Morse as he is being strangled and asking, "Need a hand sir"? Morse's reply is wonderful, "Get the ####### off me."
Memorable Line - Morse says "The trouble with my method Lewis is that its inspirational and as a result I sometimes, sometimes, get things #### about face."
The Dead of Jericho, the first episode of the video series of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse, gets the series off to a roaring start! Filled with local color, an atmosphere of intimacy, wonderful photography, and the best music ever for a mystery series (choral, piano, and opera selections), it completely involves the reader in the action and stimulates interest in the lives of Inspector Morse and Sgt. Lewis. The talented John Thaw, as Inspector Morse, is a man who is passionately interested in music, crossword puzzles, and beer at the pub, but he is also interested in finding a woman who shares his interests. In this episode, he has made the acquaintance of Anne Stavely, a woman who sings in his chorale and whom he would like to get to know better.
Anne, however, has a painful past history, and she is reluctant to begin a relationship with Morse. Before Morse finds our more about this, however, Anne Stavely is found hanging in her apartment. Several plots unwind simultaneously as Morse investigates Anne's death and tries to find who might have wanted to kill her. A neighbor has been peeping through the window at her; her boss's wife suspects he has been having an affair with Anne; a young druggie with money problems steals money from Anne. The producers, however, let the threads develop on their own, leaving the action unclear at first and forcing the viewer to become involved and draw conclusions about how or whether these plot lines may be connected.
This series changes the character of Morse and Sgt. Lewis from the book, where Morse is actually younger than Lewis, and Lewis is more adept at police procedure. Here Lewis (Kevin Whately) is the perfect foil to Thaw's Morse, less educated and proud of it and willing to do the leg work for Morse. In this episode, Morse is actually a candidate for police superintendent, with Inspector Bell as his rival. Max, the coroner, makes an appearance and highlights Morse's queasy stomach in the face of bloodshed and death. Elegantly produced, with wonderful on-location shots of London neighborhoods and homes, the series starts with a terrific mystery, involving a woman Morse cares for and develops in surprising, dramatic ways. A worthy debut for a terrific series! n Mary Whipple
on 9 April 2009
Twilight of the Gods is a classic Morse and my personal favorite.
It was originally billed as the last ever episode (i know, there's been a few of those!)and you can tell they pulled out all the stops for this one.
It's filmed beautifully, in and around the Sheldonian Theatre, Christ Church College and Broad Street and features excellent performances from Robert Hardy and Rachel Weiz amongst others and of course a triumphant cameo form Sir John Gelguid as the Chancellor of the University.
The plot is good solid Morse fayre with a murdered journalist spoiling Morse's unacustomed good mood which has been brought on by seeing his favouite opera singer, Gladys Probert perform.
Suddenly Probert is shot during a procession to the University where she and the controversial business tycoon Andrew Bayden are to be made Honorary Doctors and a shocked Morse insists on taking charge of both cases. When he discovers the dead man was investigating Bayden's business dealings and war time past in Lithuania Morse is, it has to be said a little slow to connect the facts, but of course he (or rather Lewis) gets there in the end.
The highlight for me is the closing scene when a sadly disillutioned Morse contemplates the meaning of Art and Life and is consoled by a sympathetic Lewis. Thaw and Wateley are at there brilliant best here, convaying a depth of emotion and sincerity rarley seen and all the more moving for it's understated simplicity - Wonderful!
on 12 February 2009
Another DVD given as a gift to my partner, she again thoroughly enjoyed it.
Would recommend to all John Thaw fans.
on 13 January 2014
A book for all TV Buffs with an interesting insight into Masoinic lodges on the island. Highly recommended reading for one and all.
on 10 December 2000
As usual with Inspector Morse, it's an enjoyable story. Strong performances by regulars John Thaw and Kevin Whately of course, but this is really brought to life by guest actors Robert Hardy and the late John Gielgud. If you're a fan of other Morse stories but you haven't seen this, you won't be disappointed.