Reviews & Ratings for
"Inspector Morse" The Wolvercote Tongue (1987)

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

The Wolvercote Tongue

Author: Ed Hadley from England
27 January 2006

A first class episode from Morse's earlier years on television. A great intricate story well acted and directed. This story was based on an idea by Morse creator Colin Dexter before he turned it into a book a few years later entitled 'The Jewel That Was Ours'. Stand out performances by Kenneth Cranham and of course John Thaw and Kevin Whately make this one to watch out for. Though the story begins slowly (as always with Morse) it then moves quickly to an unforeseen and very exciting conclusion.

As one might expect with Morse, this is well worth your time with the beautiful views of Oxford matched with a calibre of drama which they simply don't produce anymore.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Well Played.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
4 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the fourth episode I've watched since seeing most of them twenty or so years ago and, well, I'm tickled pink. I could actually follow the story -- most of the time. The previous three episodes reminded me of the Humphrey Bogart version of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep." The plot of the movie was so complicated that at one point the director, Howard Hawks, realized that the screenplay couldn't account for one of the murders. Neither could the screenwriters, who included William Faulkner. So Hawks called the novelist, Chandler, and asked him -- and he didn't know who killed the chauffeur either.

In this episode, though, I kvelled when Morse explains everything at the end -- who killed whom, who stole what, and why -- except for the explanation for one murder, during which I must have blinked or had a second's microsleep. I still don't know why the paraplegic wife was found dead of an overdose.

But, look, I at least know why Theodore Kemp was found with his head bashed in. And I know how Mrs. Pointdexter died and what happened to her fabulous artifact, the eponymous tongue, and -- umm -- no, wait. I don't know why the luscious blond wife of Cedric Downes died in that phone booth either, or how or why she was killed. Caught napping once again. Still, I suppose understanding two deaths out of four isn't a bad average. Actually it's pretty good compared to my grasp of the crimes in the previous three episodes, which gave me a batting average of zero.

I don't think I'll give away the ending. I'm not sure I COULD give away the ending. Except, I hope it doesn't take me beyond the bounds of medical confidentiality if I say that one death is unrelated in any way to the other three, which constitute in themselves what logicians call a "set." I'd like to be able to give the episode a higher grade because I enjoy the characters as much as I do and I love the location. But, man, these plots are complicated, made up of narrative threads that have nothing to do with one another. Not that it's immoral to bootleg in a random subplot or even two, or to run a herring across the trail, but the anfractuous explanations of these plots and subplots and (here, at least) the subplot OF a subplot, are handled so casually that if you're not taking notes -- well, good luck.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A jewel episode to possibly the best crime drama series ever!

10/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
2 July 2009

The Wolvercote Tongue is based on an idea by author of the Inspector Morse books Colin Dexter, and a few years after this episode first aired, a book was published entitled The Jewel That Was Ours. The book is certainly very good, though there is one chapter that is written as a letter, and because of the small print you can't read most of it. The episode The Wolvercote Tongue has a superb idea of an American woman dying suddenly whilst on a tour to Oxford, and the Wolvercote Tongue goes missing. The episode also has intriguing subplots like the murder of the museum owner, who is having an affair with the wife of one of the tour guides. It is carefully constructed, and while simply told, is held together by some strong acting, lovely camera-work showing the beauty of Oxford and a well-written script. As always, John Thaw is perfect as Morse, and I can't imagine anyone else playing the character. I loved the line "Lewis, never interrupt me when I am booking the opera", and I loved the exchange between the doctor and Morse when they're examining the victim in the hotel. Kevin Whately is his usual charming self, and there is some stellar support from Kenneth Cranham as Downes(though he looked exhausted), Roberta Taylor as Shiela and Simon Callow as Kemp. Not to mention a wonderful performance from Peter Woodthorpe as the pathologist Max, who brings a sense of humour to the proceedings. All in all, an excellent episode, with a 10/10. Bethany Cox.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Morse at its best.

9/10
Author: bethwilliam from Port Stephens, Australia
24 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A group of wealthy American tourists are on a cultural tour of Britain when one of them meets with a mysterious death. Morse is called to investigate the apparent murder of Laura Poindexter who is found dead in her motel room.

She had come to Oxford to donate a precious jewel to the Ashmolean Museum - The Wolvercote Tongue. Laura had inherited the priceless stone but it is now missing from the scene of the crime. Morse follows several leads including the beneficiary of the insurance policy - her husband. Only he is now missing.

More murders follow, including the curator of the museum, in a case that becomes totally fascinating.

This episode of Morse is one of the best. The opening tirade by Morse against the doctor, who tends Laura Poindexter is absolutely priceless. Kenneth Cranham as Cedric Downes is brilliant.

There are some wonderful lines. Including "Lewis! Never interrupt me when I am booking the opera. You never know what I might end up with."

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Very Hitchcockian

10/10
Author: jcgailb from Parker, Colorado
23 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am sure I have seen this episode before, but with the airings of Endeavor, my husband and I are watching all the Inspector Morse's again. I was amazed at how this episode was shot/directed. Very different from others in my view. The exchanges between Morse and Lewis are usually shot through a window or from some odd perspective (the cool couch scene for example) and there is all this other stuff going on in the background or foreground, maids, cleaners, barmaids...it is priceless. So of course I had to dig deeper into who the director was and my he seems like a gem. His idol was Hitchcock! I was not even surprised. I can't wait to tell my husband! It seems Alastair Reid directed one other episode and I look forward to seeing it again, although I do remember it better than this one and don't recall the uniqueness in it that this one has. A touch of Rear Window and North by Northwest.

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