11 July 2004 | clab
Thaw brought greatness to a pretty good cop character
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.