"Coded messages, murder - right up my street. It's not a bad way to start the day."Inspector Morse was a British Detective Drama based on a series of novels by Colin Dexter, which ran from 1987 to 2000. Set among the dreaming spires of Oxford, it starred John Thaw as the grumpy, intellectual and beer loving Chief Inspector Morse, and Kevin Whately as his cheerful Geordie sidekick Sergeant Lewis. During the course of each episode, the pair would investigate a murder, which would often involve complex university politics, bright but emotional students and the opportunity for Morse to utilise his love of classical music, literature and cryptic crossword puzzles.The show was immensely popular in Britain, and John Thaw's portrayal of Morse is generally considered one of British television's most iconic characters. Still repeated fairly frequently on ITV3.Sergeant Lewis later received his own spin-off in Lewis. A prequel, Endeavour, set in 1965 and starring Shaun Evans as the young Detective Constable Morse, aired in 2012; it has been renewed for a series airing from April 2013.
This show provides examples of:
Afraid of Blood: Morse has quite a distaste for gore and won't look at fresh corpses unless he absolutely has to. Being a murder detective, he sometimes does have to.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A pretty literal example occurs in "Masonic Mysteries" when the Big Bad tries to murder Morse by setting his flat on fire while he sleeps. After surviving the attempt, Morse finds out that the device that started the fire was concealed in a tape of a notoriously bad version of The Magic Flute. Amusingly, Morse seems more annoyed at the notion of having that recording in his collection than he does the attempt on his life or the near-destruction of his flat.
Author Appeal: Colin Dexter's love of crosswords and opera are big parts of Morse's character and important to many of the plotlines. Later on, he got Dexter's type 2 diabetes as well.
Lewis' love of cricket is definite Author Appeal as well.
Bowdlerize: With the series often being broadcast during the day, this can happen quite heavily. In particular, the initial daytime edit of "Service of all the Dead" was severely chopped up to remove a subplot which involved a ten year old boy being murdered, rendering the end product barely coherent (fortunately, more recent versions of that episode just remove the reveal of the boy's corpse).
British Brevity: While each season is between 3 and 5 episodes long, each episode is an hour and forty minutes!
Distaff Counterpart: Dr. Grayling Russell is loosely this to Morse. While she has a different job and is significantly younger than Morse, she has a similar personality, a love of classical music and opera, and an Embarrassing First Name.
The Not-Love Interest: Morse is too ... Morse to be exactly paternal, but Lewis still manages to be his Most Important Person, to the point that he leaves a third of his estate to Lewis and Lewis finds that one of the few pictures in Morse's house is of himself and Morse in front of Morse's Jag.
The episode 'The Way Through The Woods' features Morse investigating a crime previously investigated by Lewis and Morse's rival DCI Johnson. A lot of the episode plays as if Lewis has returned to Morse after having an affair with Johnson.
Obviously Evil: Played with; characters who behave in an Obviously Evil manner are generally innocent, but characters who are played by actors well-known for playing villains almost always turn out to be murderers, or at least accomplices.
Put on a Bus: The series' original pathologist, Max was mentioned as having been forced to retire after suffering a stroke between the second and third seasons, while his replacement, Dr. Russell, vanishes without a trace after the third season.
Adele Cecil, who becomes Morse's girlfriend near the back end of the series, disappears in the final episode with only a brief comment that she had decided to move to Australia and break off their relationship. It turns out later in the episode that Morse very likely cheated on her with a woman who eventually became the final murder victim he ever investigated.
DCI Bell appeared in the first episode as a rival with Morse for the post of Superintendent. He appeared in one other episode supervising Morse's investigation and was not heard from since.
Ret Canon: Dexter has admitted he prefers the TV series portrayal of the young, Geordie Sergeant Lewis to the elderly Welshman he used in the novels.
Setting Update: The novel series began publication in 1975 with a book set in 1970. It was only to be expected that the TV adaptations from 1987 would update to the then-present day. The effect of the Setting Update only becomes pronounced with the prequel Endeavour, initially set in 1965 - it follows the TV chronology, so its setting is 20+ years before the original series, not five.
Significant Anagram: Constantly. Colin Dexter is a major crossword fan and often included anagrams of important character's names.
Television Geography: Morse was seemingly able to walk between Oxford landmarks which are in reality several miles apart in a matter of seconds.
The Coroner: There were three regular ones — Max in Series 1 and 2, Grayling Russell in Series 3, and Laura Hobson in the specials — and a variety of one-off ones in Series 4-7.
Wham Line: The penultimate line of the series, delivered to the just-apprehended murderer by Lewis: "Inspector Morse is DEAD!"
Women Are Wiser: Played straight with Dr. Russell, who is consciously depicted as being much more focused, knowledgeable and sensible compared to her predecessor, Max, and even Morse himself to a certain degree. Defied by the much quirkier Dr. Hobson.
Everything Is Online: In 'Masonic Mysteries', a villain manages to hack the police database, alter Morse's file and frame him... after having taken a single computing course while in prison. However, Lewis does point out that the internet is only one possible way he did it, and that as a notorious con-man he may have been able to trick someone into giving him physical access to the system.
My God, What Have I Done?: The murderer in "Happy Families" actually says this out loud after it turns out that Lady Balcombe, her main accomplice, disregarded the warning not to tell her supposed (and emotionally disturbed) long-lost daughter of their relationship, resulting in Balcombe being stabbed to death.