Inspector Morse - Pack 1 - The Dead Of Jericho/The Silent World Of Nicholas Quinn


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Every now and again television knocks spots off cinema. The series known as Inspector Morse is a case in point. The plots are melodramatic, verging on the bizarre at times, with body counts that would have embarrassed Dame Agatha, but the writing is persistently excellent and the performances sublime.

John Thaw's portrayal of Morse stands amongst the truly great. The character is about as far from your stereotypical bobby-with-brains as it is possible to be. He looks like a man who never gets out of bed the right way, as if life constantly builds up hope, with the challenge of a crossword puzzle, the joy of classical music or the promise of real ale, only to be dashed by the brutality of violent death and the sight of blood.

The Dead Of Jericho is the opener, scripted by Anthony Minghella and directed by Alastair Reid. Morse has put his name forward for the top job, something you know he won't get, because of his maverick style and reputation as a boozer.

Minghella is said to have created Sergeant Lewis (beautifully played by Kevin Whately), who will become the sane and sensible voice of reason in their future professional partnership. If so, he deserves a medal. As a double act, Morse and Lewis are incomparable, with Morse nagging at Lewis for being too pedestrian and Lewis exhibiting admirable common sense in the face of barely suppressed ridicule.

In the first story, a music teacher is murdered and, as always, dark secrets emerge, involving a select group of suspects, none of whom are less than interesting. It would be true to say that the structure of the series is classic whodunit, with the added bonus of a detective inspector who has the sensitivity of an artist, the patience of a wildebeest and the sex appeal of a matinee idol.

The second story, The Silent World Of Nicholas Quinn, involves bodies at a smart crammer, where foreign students are coached to pass exams. The plot is deliciously devious and Morse surpasses himself in making mistaken deductions. "My method," he informs Lewis. "It's inspirational, but sometimes I get things arse about face."

There is another side to his mercurial character, an empathy with damsels in distress. He's never married, due to obsessive passions - music, beer, his MK II burgundy Jag - but the desire is there. When he flirts with murder suspects, you begin to wonder - Lewis does, too - whether he's reading from the same hymn sheet. Or, in this case, exam paper.

Reviewed on: 23 May 2002
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The Oxford tec solves two more murders.
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Director: Alastair Reid, Brian Parker

Writer: Anthony Minghella, Julian Mitchell, based on the novels by Colin Dexter

Starring: John Thaw, Kevin Whately, Gemma Jones, Patrick Troughton, Barbara Flynn, Michael Gough, Roger Lloyd Pack

Year: 1987

Runtime: 205 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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