Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Inspector Morse

John Thaw as Morse.
Premise:  Inspector Morse and Detective Sergeant Lewis investigate crimes for the Thames Valley Police in Oxford, England. Their cases often require them to navigate between the local townsfolk and the Oxford academia. Occasionally, though, their work sends them to more "exotic" locales such as Italy or Australia. Morse is a highly-intelligent, middle-aged bachelor who shares few interests with his colleagues. While they're passionate about soccer, he prefers opera, literature, crossword puzzles, and zipping around in his red Jaguar Mark 2. Granted, he does like his beer...but only the good stuff. Morse isn't above flirting with the opposite sex (including suspects), but he doesn't have much luck with enduring relationships. His partner, Detecive Sergeant Robbie Lewis, is his antithesis--public school-educated, a family man, and interested in sports. (In one episode, Morse has Lewis go undercover as a cricket team player.) Yet, while they share few common interests, the duo respect and remain loyal to each other--even when Morse belittles Lewis for not knowing the name of a Wagner opera.

Running Time: 45 minutes.

Status: Twelve seasons, comprising 33 episodes, aired between 1987-1993 and 1995-2000.

Production Notes:  Author Colin Dexter started writing his first Morse novel on a family vacation in 1972. Last Bus to Woodstock was published in 1975 and became the first of 13 novels featuring Inspector Morse. In his last Morse novel, 1999's The Remorseful Day, his detective dies from myocardial infarction. Dexter had cameo appearances in 30 of the Inspector Morse TV series episodes. He also appeared in the spin-offs Inspector Lewis and Endeavor. In the books and TV series, Morse remains evasive about his first name--revealing it only once in "Death Is Now My Neighbor" (his father named him Endeavor after Captain James Cook's ship).

Our Review: Our viewing of the first Inspector Morse episode did not make much of an impact. But after enjoying the spin-offs Inspector Lewis and Endeavor, we decided to try again--and that was a good thing. Morse is not an immediately likable character. He's typically grumpy, cynical, and gruff. However, John Thaw's nuanced performance subtly reveals a romantic buried behind the fa├žade. His relationship with Kevin Whately's DS Lewis is what makes the show work. Morse may criticize Lewis for his lack of culture, but the two detectives bring out the best in each other. We also like that Morse is one of the more realistic detectives; he sometimes jumps to conclusions and hones in on the wrong suspect until late in the case. It's also fair to say that the Inspector Morse TV series, along with Dalgliesh, influenced many of the later British detective shows. (All that said, we still prefer Inspector Lewis and Endeavor!)

Grade: B.

No comments:

Post a Comment