Reviews & Ratings for
"Inspector Morse" The Sins of the Fathers (1990)

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

While this is my least favourite from the 4th series, it is definitely well worth watching!

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
4 July 2009

I have said a lot of times, that Inspector Morse is just a gem of a drama series, with superb performances, not only from the leads John Thaw and Kevin Whately but also from the supporting actors, wonderful music and excellent scripting. As I have already said, I really like Sins of the Fathers, but it is my least favourite out of the episodes from the 4th series. While not as haunting as Driven To Distraction, as exciting as Masonic Mysteries or as outstanding as the Infernal Serpent, there is so much that redeems it. The performances are wonderful, particularly Thaw and Whately who never disappoint, and some standout performances from the likes of Lionel Jeffries, Alex Jennings, Isabel Dean and of course Lisa Harrow. The music is excellent as always, and the plot while sometimes unexciting is still very clever and well explained. The dialogue is also inspired, especially the line "Don't worry sir, by the time he's out you'll be long gone." The camera-work as usual is beautiful, so overall, a very good episode, not the best, but well worth the watch. 9/10 Bethany Cox.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Good plot, dreadful direction

Author: scrivens from Australia
22 September 2012

Quite a decent episode as far as plot goes, and the acting is good as usual. The last screen appearance of the well known Isabel Dean, playing a suitably nasty matriarch, and a nice bit of work by the great Lionel Jeffries. Morse seems a bit unconnected in this one compared to his normal character.

The real problem with this one is as another reviewer has mentioned, the terrible direction. What is it with the continual close-ups, window, curtain, reflections, mirror and angled shots? After 20 minutes it becomes increasingly irritating, and it fails utterly as a mood setter. The frequent extreme facial closeups and the failure to do much in the line of locale setting is very distracting. I've seen a few Morse episodes with dreadful camera direction, but this is the worst by far. 1st year art school level.

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Murder Brewing

Author: Troll_Dahl from United States
8 February 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you're a fan of the Morse character, you'll appreciate that it's fitting that he should investigate murder at a brewery. I think this particular episode is sometimes underrated by fans. We have the solid foundation of a murder mystery,providing the detective story aspects necessary for any good Morse: Trevor Radford, in charge of managing the affairs at his family's brewery business, turns up dead in a mixing vat. In fact, two people are eventually killed in this manner. This can be looked at as a key symbol for "Sins of the Fathers", as we are plunged into a simmering stew of of subplots. There are extramarital affairs being carried on while the family businesses crumbles. Various members of the family are pursuing their own lines of action to either save the business or cut the losses. There's a solicitor who has some connection to the family, but what that is remains unclear for sometime. And there's a train- loving brewery employee, his mother, and co-worker girlfriend. We don't even know why they're here for most of the story, and if there's any fault in the storytelling, it's that their presence thus calls attention to itself and possibly gives some of the game away.

These are flawed people, but any family in which two brothers are murdered in the space of one week is bound to have a few kinks, and flawed characters are frustrating but ultimately more compelling, and more real. They also allow the opportunity for interesting storytelling. And that brings me to the other thing that some people might not care for about this episode, but I quite like it.

Peter Hammond directed this and a couple of other episodes and some people find his visual style distracting and disorienting, but I find it to mainly enhance the storytelling. This story is being told in a visual medium after all, and it's nice to see use being made of that sometimes, instead of having the camera always remain a neutral narrator. As others have mentioned, Hammond has many shots through mirrors, windows, and other reflective surfaces. There's clever use of color and usually at least one or two left-field visual ideas in his episodes. This episode opens with a very effective titled/slanted camera angle, which immediately puts us on edge without, in my opinion, overselling the point.

One thing Hammond does throughout is to give the space, or environment in which the story is taking place, a lot of presence. Whether it's in the Radfords' mansion or the rundown home of Victor Preece and his mother--or the brewery itself--we are given plenty of wider shots that set the characters within the space, rather than framing everything from their point of view, quite true to life in that the people enter space, not the other way around. This one is pretty low on POV shots in general: we're always seeing from outside the characters' vantages and seeing things they don't see, or aren't paying attention to. For instance, during a tension-filled but cryptic scene between the two Radford brothers' wives, during which we're beginning to learn that one of the women is having an adulterous relationship with her brother-in-law, we see his photograph on a nearby table juxtaposed with their conversation. This cutting away to photographs, or placing them in the foreground of a shot to comment on the action, occurs at least twice. That whole scene between the Radford wives is worth looking at for photography and editing, as there are shots through windows and other reflective surfaces, giving us the feeling of outsiders who are listening in on bits and pieces of these women's private lives--as indeed we are, and they don't go out of their way to spell out what their conversation really means. The performances are also skillful, showing the tensions in their interactions. It is only one example throughout of a combination of strong acting, clever photography, and piecemeal editing (which can be a good thing inasmuch as it's cryptic and quick) to maintain tension and draw us into the story.

Later on, after Helen Radford goes to find her brother-in-law and lover at the brewery, she instead discovers him murdered like his brother. The circumstances of the discovery force her to confess the affair to Morse. Throughout the short interview, he is photographed from below while standing, she from above while seated. So we have Morse looming over Helen, visually demonstrating his higher status and her lower, more vulnerable status. This visual language is regularly employed during the interviews.

As for Helen, played well by Kim Thomson, she actually remains a relatively sympathetic character throughout despite her carnal sins. At one point, while her in-laws are plotting on how to save their business, we see Helen, whose husband has just been murdered, separated from then and decrying their self-absorption while she plays with a big shaggy dog. Her character makes a good contrast with her sister-in-law, a real bitter piece of work, and her venal but fatally insecure mother-in-law, all well-played.

Without giving away too much, I'll also mention that the murderer is actually one of the more interesting characterizations of the series. David Bishop, in his "Complete Morse" episode guide found him unlikely and unbelievable but I think I can see what they were going for: he may seem a counterintuitive character at first, but there's a lot boiling beneath his repressed external self.

The acting is always strong in Morse. In this episode's cast, special mention goes to Lionel Jeffries, Grandpa from"Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang". His performance here as another grandfather is very affecting.

This episode has gotten some what of a bad rap from Morse fans but I believe it has plenty to redeem it and some of the reviews criticize too much. It's a highly solid murder story told with great visual flair.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Once More Into The Beer.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
17 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It begins promisingly enough. The Radford Brewery empties one of those huge caissons of beer and it reveals a body that was thrown in the night before. (Q: What did they do with the beer?) It's the body of one of the owner's two sons.

The board of directors has been arguing about whether the brewery should be sold off to a rival and, if it is, who might be appointed the manager, so this may be an instance in which one Radford brother has offed the other in order to run the business. But no. Brother Number Two suffers the same fate a few weeks later: coshed and thrown into the beer. There's a third murder, non-alcoholic.

Morse and Lewis discover that one of the brothers was having an affair with the wife of another. The wife is the wispy Kim Thompson, who is worth having an affair with. The wife being ignored is semi-loathed by the Radford family because she used to be a secretary and apparently slept her way into marriage with one of the sons. She pretty bitter about the snooty family's resentment of her but apparently unruffled by her husband's adultery. Still -- hell hath no fury and -- could she have bashed both brothers? Great performance by Lionel Jeffries, who is a doddering old deaf man here, having grown out of his early roles as authoritarian cops and sergeants and drill instructors. He's rather good.

Morse and Lewis play their usual games with their suspects and with each other. I'm getting to like Lewis better than the Inspector. Morse seems always to be suffering from some digestive disorder. His default expression is one of pain. And I'm not sure how far he can be trusted. Everyone seems to talk about his drinking but we never see him with much more than an occasional pint, and he's never drunk or hung over. Or maybe he IS hung over and that accounts for the fact that he treats Lewis the way a dog treats a fire plug. Lewis, on the other hand, shows some quick wit, though he's unsophisticated. And he must have the hide of a rhinoceros to put up with Morse's disdain.

The villain turns out to be one of those minor characters you rarely meet, and the motive seems to me to be terribly weak. I can't imagine what happened to the director in this episode. Was he on mushrooms or what? Too many scenes are shot through windows, crystal paper weights, or into mirrors on the other side of windows. At one point the images seem to have been lifted from a kaleidoscope.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Lots of Mirrors and Windows.

Author: galaxywest from Nagoya, Japan
9 April 2010

A good story with lots of surprises though the director, Peter Hammond, just couldn't stop himself from shooting the character's reflections off of as many mirrors and any other reflect-able items that might be around as possible. But that was not enough, as any pane of glass about also had to be shot through. And one more thing. The back's of John Thaw's ears get top billing in that half of the the back of Morse's head was shot so often during police interviews. Peter Hammond's three "Morses" were definitely the darkest shot episodes in the series -- especially "Service of All the Dead."

I didn't see Colin Dexter's mug in this episode.

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