Saturday, May 16, 2015
'Inspector Morse: The Dead of Jericho' DVD: Commencement of Timeless British Procedural
This review of the BFS Entertainment DVD release "Inspector Morse: The Dead of Jericho" is a follow-up to the recent post that provides a broad overview of the epic 25th Anniversary Morse set of which "Jericho" is a part. The three feature-length episodes of this classic style whodunit in the aptly named "Jericho" comprise the first series (my people call them seasons) of "Morse." U.S. airings of these episodes include runs on "PBS Mystery!" and the A&E network during the better days of the latter.
The titular police detective is the wonderfully quirky unmarried middle-aged heterosexual who enjoys his beer as much as his three Bs of classical music and who has the deductive and observational skills that solving his cases require. In many respects, this makes him a more socialized Sherlock Holmes.
The titular region of Oxford is where the three cases around which the episodes revolve occur.
The first episode, which shares the name of this subset of the 25th Anniversary Collection, revolves around the apparent suicide of a music teacher to whom fellow choir member Morse is attracted. The multiple flies in the ointment that contribute to the typical very manageable intricacy of a "Morse" episode include the victim being involved in romance, giving up a child at birth several years ago, trying to be supportive of a very troubled college-aged man, and having a creepy and intrusive neighbor. As always, Morse expertly sorts this all this out and gets his man (or woman) after an initially rough start. This episode is notable as well for being the first pairing of Morse and longtime (and long suffering) professional partner Sgt. Lewis.
Nice elements of this one are that it starts with wonderful humor that provides insight into the challenges that Morse faces, balances the need of any new show for exposition and the desire of the audience to get right to the action, and provides Americans with both a sense of the past of Oxford and a look at this historic locale.
"The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn" requires that Morse solve the mystery related to poisoning the titular academic in the wake of the latter uncovering a scandal related to selling exam secrets. This one nicely involves even more elements of classic British mysteries than the first episode.
The (cynical) insider look at the world of academia contributes brilliant humor in this one.
The third episode, "Service of All the Dead" arguably is the best of the three. The reported murder of a church warden during a service begins with simple assumptions that nicely escalate into great intrigue that involves several forms of family drama, adulterous affairs, church scandals, gambling, apparent blackmail, and bodies piling up like firewood. Directly borrowing from Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie only makes this better.
There is no doubt that these "Morse" episodes (and the 30 others in the "Collection") are an important part of a well-balanced video-viewing diet. Merely being an entertaining program that provides a very doable mental workout sets this series apart from most other fare from any television era. These elements further make "Morse" episodes ones to savor, rather than gorge upon as if you are competing in a hot-dog eating contest that is most likely to end in extreme distress.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Morse" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,