Crime, Drama, Mystery | TV Series (1987–2000)

Inspector Morse – intellectual, cynical, and more than a little snobbish – tackles the most devious crimes found in the diverse community of Oxford. —Netflix 

In this older but excellent British television mystery series based on books by Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse (John Thaw) and his second, Detective Sergeant Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) seek to solve convoluted murder crimes without the aid of cell phones, forensics teams, or DNA evidence. With Morse, it’s all clues and details. The viewer must watch not only the foreground, but also what goes on in the back to get the full effect of the story. 

Equally as important as the inventive storylines is the Morse character, himself. Prickly, well-read, alcoholic, and naïve when it comes to attractive women, Morse can never be happy. The closest he gets is when he listens to his music. The series uses that music well, punctuating it with canyons of dramatic silence. 

Lewis plays perfectly against Morse, the young family policeman comfortable and assured in his normality. He bows to Morse as his superior but often with the rolling of eyes. Lewis has his own powers of detection and helps Morse see through the muddle of a confusing case. 

The scenery is lovely, both in city and country, and sometimes the sets saying more than the dialog. The innovative cinematography plays a big part in conveying the lush tapestry that is the series’ hallmark. No reflective surface is safe, whether window glass, rain-wet asphalt, or the polished paint of Morse’s vintage Jaguar. The camera slips seamlessly from mirror to scene or layers through the hazy reflection in a window, much like the convoluted twists and turns of the crimes that must be solved. 

This is my third run-through of the series and I am enjoying it as much as the first time, though I miss sitting with my parents, sipping tea, and watching real-time like we did back in 1987.



About Mollie Hunt

Loves cats. Writes books.
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