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‘absorbing second mystery . . . stunning resolution.’ [Stage Fright]

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A Class Act

I am working my way through the entire box set of Inspector Morse DVDs, all thirty-three episodes, rationing myself strictly to one an evening. And how well they still stand up: well-plotted, well-scripted, excellent direction and photography, the glorious setting of Oxford, and above all the superb double act of the brilliant John Thaw with Kevin Whately as his sidekick. The supporting cast is excellent, too. Every episode is stuffed with familiar names – there’s even John Gielgud in one. The whole thing is such a class act. There is also the fun of spotting Colin Dexter appearing, Hitchcock-like, in every episode.

It is hard to believe that the the first one aired in 1987. These were the days before mobile phones and the internet made the work of the police – and the crime-writer – more complicated, and yet on the whole they have not dated very much. The most startling aspect is the women’s clothes: shoulder pads so enormous that they almost have to turn sideways to go through doorways. Did I once dress like that? I fear I must have, but memory has drawn a merciful veil over what I actually did wear. I was reminded of another way in which life has improved by an episode in which Morse is at a college dinner. At the end of it the woman sitting next to him lits up a cigarette while she is still sitting at the table: unthinkable these days! It is the little things that make you realise that, yes, this was thirty-two years ago.

PS Have just heard the sad news that Barrington Pheloung, who wrote the atmospheric score, has died.

 

10 Comments

  1. Margot Kinberg
    August 3, 2019

    That is a fine, fine series, Christine. I’m glad you’re taking the time to watch it. And, to me, John Thaw was Morse. Now I’m feeling the urge to do some watching myself…

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      August 3, 2019

      Yes, for me too, John Thaw was the perfect Morse. I am enjoying it so much.

      Reply
  2. Helen Townshend
    August 3, 2019

    So sorry to hear about Barrington Pheloung, much too young to die.

    I enjoyed the Morse at the time but I now much prefer Lewis, especially the relationship between Lewis and Hathaway. It’s more realistic, somehow. However, the great thing is, we don’t have to choose!

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      August 3, 2019

      Yes, it’s sad about Barrington Pheloung. As for Lewis, well, I have every intention to moving onto to that, when I have finished Morse! Endeavour is also excellent.

      Reply
  3. moira @ ClothesInBooks
    August 4, 2019

    That sounds like a very entertaining undertaking. You are not really binge-watching like a millenial if you are not watching episode after episode – but then they are quite long! It must be fun spotting all the guest stars, some on the way up and some I presume now gone from us.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      August 4, 2019

      Yes, about an hour and forty minutes. They are simply stuffed with well-known character actors – some of them looking terribly young and others no longer with us. I am not really one for binge viewing, but binge reading . . . that’s another matter.

      Reply
  4. Susan D
    August 6, 2019

    I never watched Morse (nor even Endevour) but I have absorbed every Lewis episode (and why hasn’t there been a Hathaway spinoff?)

    But PBS (it crosses Lake Ontario from Buffalo to Toronto) is now running Morse episodes, so it’s time to fire up the PVR and start a new habit.Something old, but new to me.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      August 11, 2019

      I’ll be really interested to hear what you think, Susan! I am moving on to Lewis next. Somehow I didn’t quite have the heart after the end of Morse to watch Lewis at the time it was broadcast. Happy viewing!

      Reply
      • Susan D
        August 20, 2019

        Okay, I’ve found time to watch the first episode. And I mean The First Episode. 1987. It’s amazing that shows made and aired in my adulthood are now period pieces in themselves. No mobiles, no desktop computers in sight, no DNA. And Lewis! What a sweet young guy he is. But he keeps on turning down Morse’s suggestion they go for a beer. I assume he gets over that, since I think most of the Lewis episodes contain lines something like, “Well, let’s do what Morse would do…” and then they’re in the pub.

        I”m going to enjoy these….

        Reply
        • Christine Poulson
          August 20, 2019

          I feel the same. I was in my thirties when I first watched these, and now, well . . .
          One of the joys of the series is the developing relationship between Morse and Lewis. It is nice to think that we are both watching them! Though given the time difference, it’s not likely to be quite at the same time. I am up to episode 10. You have some treats in store.

          Reply

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