17 October 2001 | uuilson
Inspector Morse, a Synopsis
Inspector Morse is television at its finest. Based around the Oxford-based characters created by Colin Dexter (some films are based on the novels; some on plot ideas by Dexter; and others, original scripts), the ITV series starring John Thaw and Kevin Whately has endured 33 high-quality episodes, each of which is approximately 104 minutes in length, and made with the same high standards usually reserved for a film with a theatrical release, ultimately resulting in a very arduous-yet-rewarding filming process. The premise of the series, to paraphrase John Thaw, is observing how two disparate men - one of which is a cerebral, Jaguar-driving, beer-drinking, crossword-solving, music-loving, well-educated, pedantic, arrogant, bachelor (Chief Inspector "Endeavour" Morse); the other of which is a northern, subservient, down-to-earth, prudish, humble and publicly-educated, family man (Sergeant "Robbie" Lewis) - proceed through an intricate whodunit and come to the conclusion which they inevitably reach. There is a noticeable father-son relationship between Morse & Lewis; and perhaps more of a brother-brother relationship between Morse & Strange, the Chief Superintendent. Aptly described as "a good detective but a poor policeman," Morse's modus operandi is very unconventional and parallels the way in which he solves his daily crossword puzzle (sometimes resulting in him getting things "arse about face"). His partnership with Lewis, however much as Morse would probably deny it, is vital to the investigation, just as Watson's was to Holmes; a lot of times mere innocent remarks from Lewis will lead Morse to deduce essential pieces of a puzzle, thereby solving the crime. Although Morse's melancholy is a rarely changing factor, Thaw is able to convey the gambit of emotions without having to resort to overacting. Their Christian names are rarely broadcast throughout the series; Morse tends to refer to Sgt. Lewis as just "Lewis," whereas Sgt. Lewis is inclined to address Morse as "Sir." The team who commissioned the Inspector Morse series seem to have elected not to use the same filming/writing crew on more that one episode, resulting in direction and writing styles which differ immensely from one another at different stages in the series. Contributing a lot to the show are the classically-trained backgrounds of many of the guest stars and the talent of the writers and directors, many of whom have gone on to have tremendously successful careers. Another important element of the show's success is the, at times hauntingly beautiful, strikingly apposite music composed by Barrington Pheloung. The characters evolve throughout the series, almost to the point where Lewis metamorphoses into an obtuse version of Morse. In Hitchcockian-style, Colin Dexter makes a cameo appearance in nearly every Inspector Morse film. The deterioration of Morse's health from a nasty combination of both drink and diabetes, and his apathy toward its maintenance were his ultimate downfall; indeed the re"morse"ful day occurred in the final episode (same name, same poem, same pun) wherein Morse succumbed to a heart attack, fittingly on the lawn of an Oxford college. Although it is hard for one to simultaneously predict the future and judge in a contemporary environment, it appears that the series has all the requisites to be regarded as "timeless."