Inspector Morse (TV Series 1987–2000) Poster


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The epitome of quality
matthew-5827 July 2004
I think most people would agree, whether British or not, that Inspector Morse represents everything that is good about British television. In January 1987, the first television episode of Colin Dexter's intelligent series of novels was broadcast. Inspector Morse was perfect - the beautiful scenery of Oxford, the classic red Jaguar, the classical music and a superb, and at times moving, central performance by the man his co-star Kevin Whately would later describe, after his untimely death in 2002, as Britain's finest screen actor.

Until it finished in 2000, Inspector Morse captivated large audiences, intrigued by its complex plots, the towering performance of John Thaw and its amazing roll call of quality guest actors. The series oozed class from every pore, and will always be the greatest jewel in the magnificent career of the late John Thaw. I really cannot find enough words to explain just how good I think Thaw was in so many of his television and film roles, but Morse was the character in which he proved to television viewers that he was not only versatile but had a rare depth.

The early episodes are certainly my favourites, as they were adapting the existing stories. Later, as they ran out of Dexter's stories, they began writing stories to keep the popular series going. But throughout, we learn more and more about the mysterious, emotionally repressed and rather sad Inspector. Without doubt, this is the greatest modern murder mystery franchise, and the series so many have tried, and failed, to emulate since.
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Overview of the Inspector Morse Series'
ian-14413 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Inspector Morse, which was produced by ITV , is one of the consistently highest quality TV series' ever produced in the UK. There is not a single dud episode and every one is totally gripping and thoroughly enjoyable. No other British police drama series even comes close

The cast included many fine British Actors including regular James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange - Morse's boss, Patricia Hodge , Anna Massey, Richard Griffiths and many, many others.

The programmes are two hours long when shown in the UK but this includes commercial breaks. They are being continually repeated on ITV and ITV2 and are immensly popular. They are based on the books by Colin Dexter who has appeared in every single episode as an uncredited extra.

Unfortunately, no more episodes will be filmed as Morse was killed off in the last episode which was based on the book by Dexter where Morse dies. One big mystery which flows through the series' is Morse's Christian name . When asked, he always says 'Just call me Morse'. The identity of his very unusual name is finally revealed in one of the very last episodes.

The programmes were mostly based around the city of Oxford and many of them involved Oxford University where Morse himself was a student.

The music in the programmes is of particularly high quality , having been composed by Barrington Phelong. Several soundtrack CD's are available and have sold in high numbers. The main theme which tends to vary slightly from programme to programme features a haunting musical play on morse code.Inspector Morse is particularly keen on opera and a fair bit of it features in the programmes.

The length of two hours for each self-contained story gives plenty of time for the plots to unfold in a leisurely but very gripping way. Phelong's excellent music and the supurb filming build the tension in the stories wonderfully. One story was filmed mostly on location in Italy and another in Australia but these are exceptions to the usual Oxford locations.

Although the great British TV actor, John Thaw as Morse, is the star of the show ,the role of Kevin Whateley - another fine actor ,as Sgt. Lewis should not be overlooked . His solid working class 'steady' British copper provides the perfect foil for the celebral middle class Morse who is very much a culture snob . Morse is forever correcting Lewis's grammar and trying to educate him regarding classical literature and music.

Another star of the programmes is Morse's bright red Mark 2 Jaguar of about 1962 vintage.

I enjoy watching the programmes again and again.
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Inspector Morse, a Synopsis
uuilson17 October 2001
Inspector Morse is television at its finest. Based around the Oxford-based characters created by Colin Dexter (some films are based on the novels; some on plot ideas by Dexter; and others, original scripts), the ITV series starring John Thaw and Kevin Whately has endured 33 high-quality episodes, each of which is approximately 104 minutes in length, and made with the same high standards usually reserved for a film with a theatrical release, ultimately resulting in a very arduous-yet-rewarding filming process. The premise of the series, to paraphrase John Thaw, is observing how two disparate men - one of which is a cerebral, Jaguar-driving, beer-drinking, crossword-solving, music-loving, well-educated, pedantic, arrogant, bachelor (Chief Inspector "Endeavour" Morse); the other of which is a northern, subservient, down-to-earth, prudish, humble and publicly-educated, family man (Sergeant "Robbie" Lewis) - proceed through an intricate whodunit and come to the conclusion which they inevitably reach. There is a noticeable father-son relationship between Morse & Lewis; and perhaps more of a brother-brother relationship between Morse & Strange, the Chief Superintendent. Aptly described as "a good detective but a poor policeman," Morse's modus operandi is very unconventional and parallels the way in which he solves his daily crossword puzzle (sometimes resulting in him getting things "arse about face"). His partnership with Lewis, however much as Morse would probably deny it, is vital to the investigation, just as Watson's was to Holmes; a lot of times mere innocent remarks from Lewis will lead Morse to deduce essential pieces of a puzzle, thereby solving the crime. Although Morse's melancholy is a rarely changing factor, Thaw is able to convey the gambit of emotions without having to resort to overacting. Their Christian names are rarely broadcast throughout the series; Morse tends to refer to Sgt. Lewis as just "Lewis," whereas Sgt. Lewis is inclined to address Morse as "Sir." The team who commissioned the Inspector Morse series seem to have elected not to use the same filming/writing crew on more that one episode, resulting in direction and writing styles which differ immensely from one another at different stages in the series. Contributing a lot to the show are the classically-trained backgrounds of many of the guest stars and the talent of the writers and directors, many of whom have gone on to have tremendously successful careers. Another important element of the show's success is the, at times hauntingly beautiful, strikingly apposite music composed by Barrington Pheloung. The characters evolve throughout the series, almost to the point where Lewis metamorphoses into an obtuse version of Morse. In Hitchcockian-style, Colin Dexter makes a cameo appearance in nearly every Inspector Morse film. The deterioration of Morse's health from a nasty combination of both drink and diabetes, and his apathy toward its maintenance were his ultimate downfall; indeed the re"morse"ful day occurred in the final episode (same name, same poem, same pun) wherein Morse succumbed to a heart attack, fittingly on the lawn of an Oxford college. Although it is hard for one to simultaneously predict the future and judge in a contemporary environment, it appears that the series has all the requisites to be regarded as "timeless."
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A Real Treasure
mafster4 August 2004
Well, where can one begin. Inspector Morse is remarkable in every way. The characterisation of Morse and Lewis is wonderful. By the end of the series we know so much about Morse. It kind of brings a bonding between the character of Morse and the viewer. The show gives an English cultural feel to the programs which is also reflected by the character of Morse.

I also like the way in which Morse CAN get it wrong. It makes him human. This element is wonderfully executed as it deceives the viewer into following the track of Morse and then slaps you back in the face much to the viewers shock. This adds a fabulous twist and an element of surprise which is hard to find in many detective programs.

There are not many detective programs that carry symbols to represent themselves either. The Jaguar, the pub, the opera, classical music and crosswords. All these objects made the program. I mean, if I saw a red Jaguar parked in town, the first thing that would come to my head would be Morse.

I also believe that John Thaw and Kevin Whatley should be given so much credit for the way in which they have brought these characters to life. They came across so convincingly and played so well off of each other. A truly wonderful experience.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that John Thaw was a fine and wonderful actor who will be missed greatly.
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Thaw brought greatness to a pretty good cop character
clab11 July 2004
This is one of the truly great British mystery series. Colin Dexter's novels for me are a bit like Shakespeare's plays - better to see them played out in a dramatic fashion than try to wade through all the details on the pages. Dexter obviously likes words, so naturally his famous detective will be a lover of crosswords and puzzles. A cultured, educated man who none the less loves fast cars (his trademark red Jaguar is as well-known an icon as Magnum's red Ferrari), whisky, women (although he doesn't seem very lucky with them), and of course, a good pint of REAL beer.

While a bit too old to do something along the lines of Regan in "The Sweeney", Thaw still brought enormous energy and presence to the Morse role.

His "sidekick", Sgt Lewis, is the perfect counterpart to Morse's sometimes-overly-intellectual approach to policing. In the books, Lewis comes off as rather thick, and at times a bit servile, and Morse seems to treat him accordingly; Kevin Whatley transformed Lewis into more of a sort of "everyman's genius", someone with whom Morse could actually collaborate. "Promised Land", in which the pair travel to Australia, is one of the better ones for seeing how the two relate to each other. The series sometimes amused the real-life police of the Thames Valley, for it raised Oxford's murder rate to ridiculously high levels. Some of the earlier shows moved at the pace of the books... a little sluggish, which when combined with odd camera angles - e.g. through distorting glass objects - sometimes made the viewer feel drowsy. Always a mistake to nod off, though. Morse is usually so overconfident in his suspicions that the real killer goes uncaught, and where Morse goes, murder almost certainly follows.

My favorite episode? "Masonic Mysteries", a real spine-tingler where a man Morse put away years ago comes back to haunt him, and lands the detective in jail for murder. Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars' Emperor) is simply... spooky.

A fantastic series. If you have doubts, watch that episode.
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Morse isn't grouchy--he's prickly--and witty--and brilliantly portrayed
tony-pierno4 February 2005
One of the things that has sustained my wife and I through half a century is our mutual love of mysteries. Our appetite for that fare has never been sated, but perhaps it came closest during a trip to England when fortunate circumstance led to our spending an afternoon at lunching and then strolling through Oxford in the company of Colin Dexter. The gracious nature and prickly wit of Morse seems a reflection of the author, whose tastes in the arts are expressed irreverently and inevitably through Morse. The intellect of the author is spelled out in the character, and though the books aren't autobiographical in plot,they seem to be in terms of the characterization of the central figure. Mr. Dexter uses his scholarship and his intellect in life in much the way Morse does--his wry comments on Oxford and its denizens during our visit seemed akin to Morse's views of them. John Thaw, Colin Dexter and Inspector Morse are to me the holy trinity of the mystery genre. Audiences have rarely been so fortunate in the bringing together of an author, a central character and a portrayer each of whom so brilliantly fulfilled his destiny in the same series of performances.
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Code Of Class
paul sloan28 February 2001
John Thaw will never have a better part than that of the crusty copper , Morse. Fans of the crime genre will love this as it usually is a great whodunnit every time with no car chases or fights and as such is always refreshingly different from the usual cop show. Just add in that Morse is a total loser with the ladies, likes a drink, enjoys listening to recordings of tragic operas. Great way to solve murders, sitting in the pub downing a beer in the middle of the day. It beats chasing armed assailants up back alleys or staking out clubs hiding in garbage cans any day.The only criticism of the show is that Oxford is portrayed as the murder capital of Europe when in real life it is probably one of the least criminal places in the world with parking offences probably being its most common crime.
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Quite simple the zenith of televisual entertainment
Sam_Spade4 March 2000
An all time classic; well acted, finely plotted and utterly addictive. In short outstanding. Not to put too fine a point on it, no series, in any genre, before or since, has managed to sustain such a high level of quality. It lays down the pillars adhered to by almost all t.v. detectives of today; a subservient side-kick, a lead character with a drinking problem but rather than establishing cliches, it creates archetypes. Without peers.
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Finest Television Series Ever
clotblaster23 January 2006
Based on average crime novels by Colin Dexter, this is truly one of the times that the television version actually surpasses the novels in quality and makes the stories come alive and touch the heart and the mind. What makes this series so compelling, like the Duchess of Duke Street, Rumpole and Foyle's War, is the main character and the actor who created this marvelous,complex and compelling character. John Thaw and the producers/writers who worked with him made this a timeless series in the only way possible: make the lead character charismatic and intriguing (and extraordinarily well acted). It is virtually impossible for a series to last beyond several episodes based only on plots (I know, many will argue with this, but I stand my ground). The series has to be character driven to maintain its brilliance, episode after episode--in this case 33 episodes. That is not to say that the plots are unimportant, but only that they are clearly secondary to Morse and his relationships with those around him--especially his sergeant and his superior. But most important are his relationship with life and his values and the way he chooses to live his life; these are especially enthralling for a t.v. series (or movie or play or novel for that matter). I highly recommend this show--even for those not normally inclined to watch mysteries. This transcends the genre spectacularly. By the way, I greatly enjoy the Midsomer Murder series, but they are merely entertaining. The Morse episodes not only entertain, but can considered to be art.
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Intelligent Whodunit with Fine Cast
John Bale3 October 2005
Not since the great team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce (in the early film Sherlock Holmes series) have there been such a happy combination as John Thaw and Kevin Whately as Morse and Lewis, in "Inspector Morse". Based on the rather academic crime novels of Colin Dexter this is surely one of the best TV whodunit series. Thaw is much at home playing the cantankerous, cultured, clever, and egocentric Police Inspector who enjoys a drink, while Whately does well as his obedient sidekick. Clever plots and intelligent scripting make this a thought provoking and interesting series. Which has lead to other quirky British Police Inspectors such as Barnaby in The Midsomers Murders, and Frost in A Touch of Frost. One might argue that Oxford, and for that matter in the other series small English country villages seem alive with serial killers, rather not conducive to tourism, but allowing for poetic license these stories capture the interest more than most.
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British TV at its best.
kikkapi2024 January 2015
Back in the year of 1987 Oxford started to get a bad reputation, a reputation they never asked for. And what was the reason that the highly acclaimed and known city of Oxford got this reputation? Because of a grumpy old detective by the name of Inspector Morse. This highly cultural, intelligent detective that fancied a good beer and classical music over anything else in life. Brilliantly casted by John Thaw, one of Britains best actors of all time, shows just what British Television is all about. Quality, through and through. The people behind the casting of this series has done a terrific job, the human interaction between the characters in this series is nothing short of brilliant. The relationship between Morse (John Thaw) and Lewis (Kevin Whately) is a relationship that one wonders how works. They seem to be from different planets, but yet they manage to interact in such a way that they always ends up sorting the beans. Morse, a man that always carries around large bills always leaves Lewis to pay the bar bill because the bartender has no change for twenties, and that always patronizes Lewis in such a way that you pity him. But in spite of this slightly awkward relationship, you do feel the compassion that is between the two. Even though they are highly different, they work so well together. Piecing together the pieces of the puzzle like the whole puzzle was nothing but a story book telling them exactly what happened. Morse being a loner, living on his own embracing what he loves the most, classic music he in many ways comes of as socially inapt seems and odd match to the family man Lewis. But as you watch this series, you come to understand that it could not have been in any other way. They are a perfect match, which makes the series move along so perfectly as it does. The way the series illustrates just how great detective work is done, and what personal sacrifices the ones doing such work has to endure just leaves you in awe. If you want good quality television, Inspectore Morse is a first choice by far. Many people get intimidated by the run time that a standard Inspector Morse episode has. But it's the best 100 minutes you can spend in front of the TV if you first are to spend time in front of it. Thank you John Thaw, for the work you and all the others put into Colin Dexter's works. You will always be remembered.
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John Thaw's best role
TheLittleSongbird9 February 2009
I have all 33 episodes and all the books, and I think this crime drama is without question the best show that ever came on our screens. Each episode has a reason for watching it. They did change the character of Morse completely, but I don't care. I prefer John Thaw's Morse, he is somewhat more likable. The late John Thaw was an outstanding actor, and Inspector Morse is his best role. He is just phenomenal, as is Kevin Whately as Lewis. Morse is a sensitive character here, when he is listening to his classical music with the camera looking into these mysterious blue eyes, it is just extraordinary. The music is just amazing with that clever haunting theme tune, and the recurring excerpts of Mozart and Wagner. Inspector Morse also benefits from consistently superb camera work and exceptionally written scripts. It has also boasted stars such as Clive Swift, Roger Lloyd Pack, Zoe Wannamaker and Paul Freeman. Favourite episode? Has to be Masonic Mysteries, the victim's scream actually made my heart go in my mouth. The final episode is heart-rending, and I couldn't bear to finish the book, because it was so sad. Great stuff! 10/10. Bethany Cox
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Excellent series - sorry it ended - great theme music
dblack-1430 July 2006
This series was distinguished by its consistent quality of acting and plausible plots. The sometimes acid interaction that graced the relationship between Morse and Lewis made their mutual respect more believable. Morse's steadfast refusal to reveal his given name added good continuity to the dialogue from episode to episode.

With the passing of John Thaw, I would like to see a follow-on series starring Kevin Whatley as an Inspector Lewis, with many of the previous regulars carried over.

The theme music by Barrington Phelong has one of those haunting melodies that just won't leave my head.
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My favourite detective series - outstanding in quality.
kabrorsen27 September 2008
I am sorry, I never had the chance to meet John Thaw. He gave so much to his part as Chief Inspector Morse, and I always admired him for this. By that, I mean, I read a couple of Colin Dexter's novels, and I absolutely found them good - but sorry, not outstanding. But with Thaw came the elegance, personality - not 100% the precise character from the novels, no luckily John Thaw's personal version of Morse. I agree with another comment on this site, the TV version clearly surpasses the original novels.

One of many fantastic things about this TV series is the fact, that the recipe was clear from day one. There is not one really bad episode among - impressive considering the many years, it took to shoot all the episodes. Actually the series almost starts with one of my favourite episodes "Silent World Of Nicholas Quinn" (1986) - and almost ends with one of them "Death Is Now My Neighbour" (1997). But in between we are treated with masterpieces such as "Who Killed Harry Field", "Driven To Distraction", "Decieved By Flight" - and my personal favourite "Death Of The Self". Each of the these episodes show how outstanding an actor John Thaw was - and how good the series really is.

It is my favourite detective series, and it is simply one masterpiece after another.
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John Thaw is terrific as Morse
Maddyclassicfilms10 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This series is one of the most beloved British Detective series and is a superb adaptation of Colin Dexter's novels.

Detective Chief Inspector Morse(John Thaw)is an Oxford Detective,he's a prickly,short tempered and shy man who loves classical music, women, beer and The Times crossword.

His assistant is Detective Sgt. Robbie Lewis(Kevin Whatley)who comes from the North and is a family man with a great sense of humour.They come to work well together and become friends with Lewis giving Morse a link to the middle class and working class world and family life something the Chief Inspector really knows nothing about.

The series features so many famous guest stars including Robert Hardy,Ian McDiarmid,Rachel Weisz,Patrick Troughton,Oliver Ford Davies and Sir John Gielgud.

The only major change here from the books is the character of Lewis,in the books he is middle aged with a wife and is closer to Morse in age, whereas in the series he is married with a family and is much younger than Morse.In the series they have a father son relationship that I think works very well on screen and is funny and touching at times.

John Thaw gives one of his very best performances as Morse and Kevin Whatley and James Grout provide strong support as Lewis and Superintendent Strange.
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An essential Inspector Morse information source
jeremy-tipton24 April 2008
After following Inspector Morse as a teen and even now after watching episodes again again, I still find myself taken with how well the programme was devised, written, produced, and acted - every time I watch an episode I take a fresh view on how good it was and is. I've come across a website which is the 'Official' site for all fans of this incredible drama - - it really is a site all those who want to find out that little bit more about the programme and man 'Morse'. There is loads of information with interesting video clip insights from John Thaw, Kevin Whately, Colin Dexter and Ted Childs about the characters from their own personal perspective - this is a great site, highly recommended.
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Sublime Morse
sjp-328 August 2000
"Morse" is without doubt in the top ten TV serials ever made, ever, and the best detective show. The acting, script, humour, tension, characterisation make two hours spent watching it, PERFECT.
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The World's First Contemporary-Set Costume Drama!
combatreview11 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is kind of a spoiler, I suppose... because basically every episode goes like this:

Morse: "Shut up Lewis, you're from Liverpool and don't understand about clever things, like musical snobbery."

Lewis: "That's right sir, I'm just a poor scouser, but can I point out something completely obvious so that you can look pained and then realise I've got a point, in my simple working class way?"

Morse: "If you must Lewis, but I have a large collection of old recordings of Maria Callas going la la la in French, singing about cigarette factories and traditional Spanish cruelty to animals, so naturally I'm not going to listen."

Lewis: "But surely sir, the murderer is the famous guest actor with a role in the story inversely proportional to their position on the cast list?"

Morse: "Shut up Lewis. Oh, hello Inspector Strange. I'm a detective with a 100% clear-up rate (better than Sherlock Holmes, in fact) and yet you're still always grumpy with me, and behave like I'm an amateur in need of your advice. And that name's a bit dodgy, this isn't a Dickens novel you know."

Strange: "You're Getting Too Involved Morse"

Morose: "Don't I always. After all, I've just met an attractive middle-aged woman that I'm going to make a slightly charmless and old-fashioned move on, without realizing that naturally this means she will either be a murderer, or be murdered, within the next 35 minutes, or just tell me to clear off for being such an abrasive old meany. Fortunately Oxford has an unlimited supply of middle-aged opera-loving attractive single women. Or is it Cambridge? I can never remember. Oh well, whatever. Inspector Morse, Thames Valley CID. Shut up Lewis. Let's go down the pub so that we can get more sponsorship from the Brewers."

It's Bergerac with Middle-Class Pretensions, basically.
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inspector morse equals class and thrills together.
mikedobcol13 October 2005
"Inspector Morse" was without a doubt the late actor john thaw's (1942-2002) greatest character that he portrayed during his distinguished career. The show was made with a lot of intelligence and quality. I would agree that there isn't one bad episode of this series. the show is best watched on DVD which really brings out the oxford scenery where the show is featured. The morse character himself is unlike any other detective on TV too. He is antisocial and likable at the same time, he cares but is very irritating to those he must work with. The show is well worth watching or owning on DVD. the only bad thing is that sadly there can be no more "inspector morse" episodes (regardless of the remorseful day episode) as no one else could properly play the character!.
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Smart television
kerrylynnskiles24 July 2013
This is smart, thoughtful television. The stories unravel soul motives and desires that remind me of P.D. James novels. The relationship between Inspector and Sargent Lewis is great to watch unfold. Then to watch Lewis as Inspector and Sargent Hathaway ... it just gets better. It adds to the story that they are currently making the prequel series of Morse as a young man. Developing what we see as the mature Morse, it's the best yet. The new series set in the 1960's Oxford are visually beautiful to watch. The filming has also significantly improved over the early Morse shows. For Americans who just can't watch one more predictable episode of Law & Order, you should check this out.
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Fantastic but not an accurate portrayal.
Sulla-21 August 2005
Before I make my criticism I have to state Morse is easily the best crime series ever and I cannot think of a better drama series. John Thaw, who surely should have been knighted, was one the UK's best ever actors. We have here 33 separate full length top quality films. My only problem,which really is a bit of a nit pick, is that Police Officers like Morse do not exist. I am not talking about his drinking and love of music etc. A Detective Chief inspector at Oxford would be in charge of all CID Officers in the City and the surrounding villages. We never see these other officers who would be at his disposal, just Lewis.In this day and age, no Police Officers above the rank Sergeant interview witnesses and suspects. Their job is to see that the job gets done. They are just administrators.
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keith-moyes-656-48149113 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I never really followed Morse on TV, but was aware of how highly it was regarded, so I recently purchased the whole series on DVD to check it out for myself. Having watched half-a-dozen episodes it is time a few preliminary observations.

The series was given top production values. Each episode was treated as a near-cinema quality stand-alone TV movie. They were all shot on film, with a lot of location shooting and multiple camera set-ups for each scene. The shows are also a role call of top-notch British actors (including several that later became much better known). Leading the way are John Thaw and Kevin Whately, who are both excellent. The first season only had three episodes. I see this increased to four episodes for several subsequent seasons before settling down to just one show a season. Morse certainly wanted to be taken seriously as a prestige production.

Personally, I am still waiting to be impressed.

For one thing, I am having trouble with the overall tone of the stories. Stylistically, they are located at the gritty, 'police procedural' end of the 'whodunit' spectrum, but this is belied by Morse's complete disregard for any procedure, or even the law itself. Moreover, the convoluted and sometimes implausible plots, often strewn with corpses, place it right in the middle of Agatha Christie territory. In 'Service of all the Dead' we are asked to believe that the Vicar, the church warden, his wife and the church organist, all conspired to kill the vicar's brother and that one of them turned out to be a psychopath intent on killing all his co-conspirators: that is a big 'ask'.

I am finding this clash between the general approach and the actual subject matter a bit uncomfortable.

Nor am I convinced by the character of Morse himself. This grumpy snob is disillusioned and world-weary, but for no obvious reason. He trails from pub to pub, constantly soaking up alcohol and jumping into his car with no fear of ever being breathalysed. It is implied that he has a real problem with drink, verging on alcoholism (one character actually says: "aren't you the policemen that drinks?") but we never actually see him drunk or hung-over. In several of these early stories he becomes romantically involved with one of the people in the case without regard to how this could compromise the investigation or any legal proceedings that might follow. He is also meant to be more fallible than the classic detectives were: he is often wrong in his reading of the situation. However, this fallibility seems ladled on to the stories rather than being integral to them. Morse jumps to conclusions on minimal evidence and is constantly blurting out his unfounded suspicions, making the Police liable for legal action. In one episode he actually arrests the wrong man.

The stories themselves are told in an arch, elliptical and somewhat pretentious way that makes them more difficult to follow than is strictly necessary. For example, in The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn the crucial final revelation fell flat and left me puzzled, so I had to go back to re-view the initial scene (which was interspersed with credits) in order to fully make sense of it. The stories tend to jump from one cryptic interrogation to another without rhyme of reason. For example, a character reveals something important which demands an immediate follow-up, but instead Morse abruptly terminates the interrogation and moves randomly on to something else.

This choppiness carries over into the way individual scenes are written and staged. They are often broken into tiny slivers, dispersed over different locations. Morse and Lewis start a discussion in a pub. We then cut to an exterior of the car park where Morse asks Lewis a question. He then walks away as Lewis shouts his answer at his retreating back. Morse then gets into his car, winds down the window and delivers his comeback. This sort of fragmented structure is typical of the whole series and seems to be a deliberate house style, imposed on all the different writers and directors that worked on the series.

The stories themselves obviously vary in quality, but none has yet really grabbed and baffled me and the eventual resolution of the mysteries has generally left me underwhelmed. They are as convoluted as the artificial puzzles of the Golden Age of crime writing, but not as clever or intriguing as, for example, the best of the Christies. I am reluctant to judge Colin Dexter on the basis of TV adaptations of his work, but I seriously doubt that he is in the same class as one of the modern 'greats' like Ruth Rendell.

These are only my first impressions, based on a handful of early episodes, and they may yet change as the series evolves over the years and I become more accustomed to its distinctive style and tone. If this happens, I will happily acknowledge it in a subscript to this review.

However, at this stage, Inspector Morse seems to me to be a classic example of the triumph of style over content.

PS: One footnote to that last assessment is that the sumptuous look of the series is undermined by a poor DVD transcription, which gives the cinematography an unpleasant, grainy look.

PPS: I did get used to it, and I don't regret watching all the episodes. The series became less quirky and less jumpy as it went on, but also more formulaic (see the devastatingly accurate account by 'combatreview').
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in 33 episodes, a hero without glory loses to no one but himself
PoliteP11 August 2005
Save for a trip to Australia, all episodes deal with murders in and around Oxford. For each of his character traits, ways of behaving and addictions one can either admire Morse or frown on him. But even if you don't like a Jaguar MK II, drinking beer or whiskey, Wagner and other classical composers, letting someone else pay for the drinks and falling in love with the wrong women, you will not be able to deny that the intellect, love, loyalty, courage, stamina, wit, tenacity and sometimes blunt hum-our, brought about by Morse and Sergeant Lewis and quite a few others (Strange and sometimes very beautiful coroners) has seldom been combined in this manner. (A Touch of)Frost is more human, Barnaby (Midsomer Murders) kinder and Dalziel (and Pascoe) grouchier than the late great John Thaw, but no one adds up like Inspector Morse.
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high brow intellectual British cop procedural TV show
HelenMary20 May 2013
John Thaw played Inspector Morse for thirteen years and evolved with the times, and did it well, with conviction and continuity. Based on the novels of Colin Dexter, which I haven't read, Morse was a grouchy, bachelor, a sucker for a pretty face, interested in the finer things including opera and the classics, with a penchant for a "liquid lunch." He's an interesting character, and with a great relationship with his exasperated partner Robbie Lewis (later with his own series) played by Kevin Whately, and doesn't always toe the party line with authority.

Set in Oxford, many of the cases are involved with academic matters, and many of the cases are inspired by classical stories, iconography and symbolism, with the upper classes, which makes them very interesting and different to your normal city cop story lines, and some inside views of University life and some beautiful stately homes in Oxfordshire. Not a fast-paced action show, little running around, or bells and whistles, it's very cerebral and good for a lazy evening when you don't want too much distraction but something intelligent. It doesn't shy away from difficult stories but does it without resorting to bad language, nudity, or anything gratuitous, and each episode bears more than one watch given the complexity of the cases. Look out for a lot of familiar faces; Sean Bean, Elizabeth Hurley, Rachel Weisz, Richard Briers to name a few. Morse is known for it's opera and classical music and theme tune that features Morse's name in a musical version of Morse-code and the beautiful Jaguar that Morse drives. Two spin off series are Lewis and Endeavour (Morse when he was young).
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"Buy me a drink, Lewis"
marqymarqy15 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Possibly the most stunning TV series ever produced, Inspector Morse stands head and shoulders above everything else. Buy the DVD set and don't rely on mid afternoon re-runs which are edited by up to 7 minutes from their original runtime and will have any of the remotely violent or unpleasant bits also edited out to be consistent with a tea time slot. Hard to believe John Thaw could improve on his portrayal of Jack Regan in The Sweeney - but he does so - if an actor ever created two works of unparallelled fineness surely it is he. Ably assisted in all but one of the 33 stories by Kevin Whately who also equals his other masterful portrayal in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, this series features a countless stream of the best of British character actors and complex, original yarns from writer Colin Dexter. Thaw's face off with Barry Foster in The Last Enemy is a filmic masterpiece - who is the taller ? - but this moment is surpassed by the reaction of one of his witness's little sister when Thaw asks her if she would like an ice cream. Perry Fenwick of Eastenders fame began his hanging around in pubs screen life here - memorably addressing a defeated snooker adversary as "tosser" in Last Bus To Woodstock. This box set should be snapped up at your earliest opportunity.
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