Thursday, December 3, 2015
"Inspector Morse: The Last Enemy' DVD: More Classic British Murder Mysteries
These musing on the three feature-film length "Inspector Morse" episodes in the collection titled "The Last Enemy" from the "Inspector Morse 25th Anniversary Collection DVD," which itself is from uber-awesome Canada-based purveyor of British DVDs BFS Entertainment, resume the Year of Morse" reviews. This series began with well-earned general praise for the "25th" set.
In roughly 25 words or less, "Morse" is a very long-running British mystery series equally featuring the titular police detective and the Oxford region in which the episodes are set. John Thaw, whose other classic roles include leads in series such as "Sweeney" and "Kavanagh QC" (both of which are available through BFS), seems born to play Morse. The quirks of this character include as much love for an evening at the opera as for a night (or an afternoon) at the pub. His "Watson" is Sargent Lewis, who is much more of an everyman than his boss.
"Enemy" kicks off with "Last Bus to Woodstock." The action in this one begins with a 20-something woman on a mission hitchhiking in lieu of waiting for the titular transportation. The extent to which her demise soon after getting out of the car of the presumed good Samaritan who gives her ride is connected with that event propels a great deal of the plot.
The mission involves delivering a cryptic letter and an accompanying item to a woman who ain't talking. The ensuing investigation uncovers inter-connected extra-marital activity, a young man with a shady present, and other assorted nefarious activity.
In addition to the typical (but well above-standard) twists of a "Morse" episode, "Bus" has an exceptionally clever ending that is reminiscent of a classic Agatha Christie story. Like Christie, the masters behind "Morse" expertly pull off this trick.
The second of the three offerings in "Enemy," "Ghost in the Machine" does not involve the other famous Police of '80s England. This one centers around the death of a genuine aristocrat who is not a noble man. The "Morse" worthy elements this time include a theft of an erotic painting, academic politics regarding selecting someone for a high-ranking post, and inappropriate master-servant relations.
"Ghost" is as good as every other "Morse" entry but adheres more to traditional whodunit elements than the other episodes. Certain elements are very clear early on and motives for acts are just as transparent. At the same time, the twists keep it fresh.
"Ghost" further is notable for introducing a new coroner, whose relationship with Morse commences on a bad note. This conflict and their subsequent interactions provide wonderful humor. A scene involving the practice of Mores of not divulging his first name is a prime example of the nature of this entertainment.
The third offering that rounds out the group lends its name to the collection. "Last Enemy" commences with discovering a limbless and headless corpse, delves even deeper into inter-connected academic and governmental politics than the other two episodes, and offers a wonderfully cynical viewpoint of the hierarchy at an institution of higher education.
This "Enemy" additionally has a stronger element of psychological distress than other "Morse" episodes and the traditionally "whodunit" model that those shows follow. This diversion nicely enhances the story and helps put the crimes into proper perspective.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Enemy" or anything else "Morse" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.