"Inspector Morse" Driven to Distraction (TV Episode 1990) Poster

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Very intriguing episode, with a thoughtful tribute to the late Kenny McBain!
TheLittleSongbird4 July 2009
Driven To Distraction is a somewhat haunting episode. What makes it so is the song playing before a murder happens, the song itself is quite haunting, and I always think it as the murderer's motif. The plot consists of a murdered woman in her flat, and the connection seems to be with a car dealer. It is certainly an intriguing entry into the wonderful series of Inspector Morse, and has so much to recommend it. When Morse tells Lewis of a dying friend and his car, this is a tribute to the original producer Kenny McBain, who sadly died in 1989, and may I say it was a very thoughtful one. The writing is unusually reflective here, and it works to an advantage. As usual Thaw and Whately shine as Morse and Lewis, as does James Grout as Strange, I loved the scene when Strange finds Morse lying on the bed and starts questioning his judgement. The supporting actors are also impressive, with Patrick Malahide deliciously seedy as Jeremy Boynton, and Mary Jo Randle nicely restrained yet humorous at times as Sergeant Maitland. In this episode, Morse and Lewis differentiate in opinion once again, and I liked the fact that Lewis solves the crime instead of Morse, it shows different sides to the characters, and the climax was what I'd call tyre-screeching. All in all, a thoughtful and well done episode, with a 10/10. Bethany Cox
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A great episode, who'd have thought Cole Porter could add a bit of terror.
Paul Evans11 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Morse and Lewis are called in to investigate the murders of two beautiful women. The killer seems to choose his victims very purposefully, following them, whilst listening to Cole Porter's 'Why can't you behave.' Morse calls in some additional help in the form of D.S. Maitland, a specialist in crimes against women. Initial leads take Morse to Boynton's garage, it's owner Jeremy Boynton a Jaguar enthusiast with links to both women. The discovery of a third, surviving victim opens up a new line of enquiry.

I'd have to say this is perhaps one of my top three Morse episodes, I love the conflict between Morse and Lewis, Lewis was more charged, more willing to challenge Morse. Mary Jo Randle's character DS Maitland was a very interesting character, she had a deeper side story then was sometimes the norm.

Incredibly well acted, Patrick Malahyde is so good as Boynton, he's always a good guy, it's nice to see him play someone more villainous, he really makes Boynton very dis-likable. I've mentioned my hugely positive view on Mary Jo Randle, but I must also comment on how brilliant David Ryall was, boy he was good.

This Morse felt very different somehow, the ending is a huge high point, not often Morse has action scenes. It really is a chilling scene, Ryall is excellent. Brilliant. 10/10
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Location remembered
nort26525 January 2014
As a Driving Instructor in and around the London area, this episode has always had a special place in my memory from way back when. As a Morse 'piece' it probably ranks just below the series very best episodes, but is enthralling nonetheless. Great acting as always, a seedy killer, a clever twist to the Morse know all attitude and spotting nearby locations remains a good quiz amongst those in the know.

Just one correction though, the website has an error in claiming the location for the Oxford Driving Centre is the Government's TRRL. This was actually filmed at the Harrow Driving Centre in North London(now long gone), as anyone who has worked there can readily testify. Many times i have walked that small pathway trodden by Morse and Lewis and also sat around within the 'simulator' room. Funny anecdotes from colleagues who were present during the filming are also remembered with affection, as can be seen from the odd glimpses of actual working cars in the background shots.

It is entirely possible that the later scenes set on the skid-pan were filmed at the TRRL but the earlier Driving Centre sequences were based in Harrow.

A highly recommended episode; search it out and enjoy.
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Like Morse's Jaguar, a fancy series breaks down in smoke
El Cine19 August 2009
Inspector Morse (IM) can usually be relied on for 105 minutes of entertaining suspense and appealing Oxford scenery. At times, it also doubles as compelling drama, in such a way that supports the mystery instead of subtracting from it. Nonetheless, as with "Prime Suspect" and "Cracker", underneath IM's literary, respectable trappings and reputation there's a good deal of crime melodrama -- rather amusing in this setting of universities and culture. Still, the series usually aims beyond the alternately lame and ludicrous approach of "Driven to Distraction" (DtD) -- nor does it usually make troubling contentions about ethics and civil liberties. It's one thing to make your lead a flawed character who makes bad mistakes. It's another to turn him into an outright lawbreaker in Season 4.

The mystery is about a serial killer who ties up women with tape, then stabs them with a butcher knife. This is a premise that might tempt filmmakers to stay in psycho-monster horror movie territory, and sadly DtD obliges. It resorts to the most clichéd, cheap, and fear-mongering sort of film-making, led by a boatload of stalking scenes. They sound all the usual scary-movie notes -- sinister gloved figure follows young single women in a car at night and spies on them in their homes, while the lyrics "Why won't you behave" playing on jazz tapes supposedly raise the creepiness and ironic insight.

It ties into the most asinine scene I've yet to see in IM, truly just the stuff of second-rate slasher cheapies that has no place in this series. A character's calm companion suddenly morphs into a misogynist monster, ranting about "whores", "tarts" and more obscene female references before reaching for the Psycho knife and attacking the other person! How it ends looks like a spoof.

Funny to think this was written by Anthony Minghella, best known for making "serious" films like "The English Patient," "Cold Mountain," and "Iris."

If the stalking scenes recall "Dirty Harry," they're not the only ones that do. What's also dismaying about DtD is the broadside it launches against due process and the rule of law. That's what it does, try as it may to entertain a voice of protest in Sgt. Lewis.

Morse finds a chance to pore through suspect Jeremy Boynton's private belongings, and thinks it may give him some actual evidence on Boynton beyond his own personal certainty. This would be illegal since he has no warrant. Morse's sidekick Lewis recognizes this as illegal, a violation of someone's rights; he refuses to help. A vacillating cop follows him out, but Sgt. Maitland, whom DtD has established as smart, honest, and nice, enthusiastically supports Morse, citing concern that the rule of law helps people like Boynton but not the murder victims (as if it's either/or!).

"Dirty Harry" may go further by depicting civil rights fans as naive elitists, but DtD never takes its "hero" characters Morse & Maitland to task for what they do. It acts as if the real problem is more like an honest judgment error, not their abuse of police power and violation of people's rights. It puts a cozy touch on the violation by making it a bonding moment for M&M as they pull an all-nighter and share their interest in classical music. Despite Lewis's objection, he doesn't report the transgression, and keeps working with them, inviting us to assume we've only experienced a difference in opinion, not detectives committing abuses that really ought to get them thrown off the force. M&M face no consequences, and the series moves on as if this was just a minor mistake for its title character.

An ongoing series shouldn't compromise its "hero" to this degree if it wants to keep him someone to root for. What we at least needed was M&M fully owning up to their offenses. Most of all we needed an affirmation of the rule of law. That DtD's police heroes trash it to pursue their self-righteous agenda, and that the film's POV essentially acquiesces, is a sad low for IM.

It's easy for a thriller film to complain about the rule of law protecting obnoxious, offensive, possibly guilty people like Boynton. But the rule of law protects *you* too. Not least of all because, someday, a corrupt or lazy authority might think *you're* no better than Boynton, on account of what your politics are, where you go to worship, what you do in your bedroom, or maybe just because the authority doesn't like you. The rule of law stands between such people and your privacy. If they do commit abuses, the rule of law is a key tool in helping you establish the justice you are due.

DtD and its two M detectives cater to authoritarianism, a path made easier by the fear-mongering melodrama about a misogynist serial killer. Some people are only too glad to invoke such fears so that they may violate innocents' civil liberties. Before you know it, "violate rights, and come up with a rationale later" becomes a disturbing norm.

DtD was especially ironic for me, because I watched it after the episode "Second Time Around," an excellent drama that's quite honest about how a self-righteous authority's turn to illegality can create grave injustice. If you've seen it, recall the Morse line that goes like, "It's his certainty that troubles me," and contrast with what Morse does in DtD.
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One of the better episodes
ctyankee13 March 2013
I don't usually like Morse very much but this one episode was one of the better ones.

The plot is about 2 woman who get killed in the same way. Their mouths are taped and they are stabbed to death. The victims knew their killer. They had let the person into their apartment, there was no breakin.

Patrick Malahide who played Chief Inspector Alleyn in the Alleyn Mysteries Series is a bad guy in this. He is Jeremy Boynton. He cheats on his wife and one of the woman that is killed was his girlfriend.

He also is the main suspect because 2 of the women bought a car from his auto sales business.

There is a lot of mystery in this and Morse cannot get anywhere a female detective and him work together and they both feel the same about a suspect.

In this episode Morse is more direct with what he wants to do. Lewis is opposing him because he feels Morse is breaking the law without a search warrant and also accusing someone without evidence

Makes for a very interesting episode.
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Why Can't He Behave?
Robert J. Maxwell18 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This episode, even more than most, is unexpectedly disjointed. There are comic interludes involving Morse's splendid Jaguar. It gives him nothing but trouble and is in and out of the garage. It's something he shares with Lieutenant Columbo -- a failing car and no first name -- but that's about all.

Morse has always been a little casual about the law, but here he not only breaks it. He wrenches off its head and violates its neck cavity. With the chief suspect out of the way for the rest of the day and night, Morse proposes to press his staff into a thorough search of the man's offices, admitting that he's not trying to get a warrant because he knows he wouldn't get one. Lewis is outraged, balks, and leaves, followed by another sergeant, but the search proceeds with Morse and his female assistant. Shortly afterward Lewis dresses Morse down in mighty tones, which Morse accepts with aplomb.

The female sergeant is attached to Morse's team because two women have been savagely attacked and murdered and the sergeant is an expert on crimes against women. This -- so far -- is about as close as the series has become to dealing with a stereotypical problem: a serial murderer. The team, as is usual in these cases, just sit down and figure out what the two dead girls had in common. Understand that clichés are not necessarily bad. They wouldn't be clichés unless they got the job done. Moreover, they're often comforting, fixed rituals in a changing and disappointing universe. What is a church service but one long cliché?

A third girl is uncovered, one who is on record as having bought a car from the same dealer and had been attacked in the same manner some years earlier but had survived. Morse has been harassing the dealer who sold cars to the victims. He seems the only link. And the dealer winds up in the hospital because of the suspicion cast on him.

But the surviving victim sheds new light on the case and -- get this -- Morse has a terrific struggle with the murderer while their car is skidding all over the place. Morse winds up with defensive knife wounds. The serial murderer, a Cole Porter freak, who has carried on in the familiar fashion of serial murderers during the Big Reveal, growling about what "half naked tarts" the victims were, winds up dead by his own knife. Morse is the killer.

I kind of liked it. The story has the usual number of red herrings and meanders but the pace is quicker than most, there is some action in addition to the usual scowling and slouching around and, most important, I could follow the story.

I should add that the clichés, while real enough, aren't so obvious as to debase the story. It WOULD have been over the top if, instead of being merely reamed by his sergeant and his boss, and suspended from the case, Morse had been forced to turn over his shield and his gun. Well -- his ID card in any case.
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