A boy, Tommy Cork, is reported missing from a broken home. Meanwhile, the body of a journalist is found on a railway line in mysterious circumstances.
Establishing interior shots of a prison and rosary beads with a soundtrack of a church choir which was eventually revealed to be one Morse was a member of. The “Amens” were juxtaposed with the “Ahhs” of Detective Inspector Thursday at his medical, someone being given a rather large cheque for a Widows and Orphans charity, lot of shots of burlesque, a dummy winking at the camera, a grey estate with everything being bought on tick (neverneverland), a runner running off into a field in early morning mist and the title sequence took us right into the story with all the elements that would prove to be important. It was a clever way of giving us multifaceted information in a short space of time. Within three minutes we had everything we needed to settle into the story, even if we were first time viewers.
A time of voluntary streamlining was mooted to Thursday by his obsequious boss who had already taken Morse’s ideas and passed them off as his own in an important speech. He categorically refused to go into training of new cadets and said it was being on the front line or nothing for him.
A death by misadventure on the railway lines of Eric Paterson proved to be death by “Mr Blunt-object-to-the-skull” and he had missed at least one appointment. It was unlikely to be coincidental that he had been asking questions about the charity event on the Saturday and had arranged to meet the local journalist before he died.
The whodoneit element of these programmes is only part of the appeal. A sense of time and place, a nod to a quaint version of England that is fast disappearing and actors good enough to make us overlook that Morse proper has been off our screens for more than a decade.
Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Jack Laskey, Sean Rigby, James Bradshaw, Shvorne Marks, Abigail Thaw and Sara Vickers are all believable in their roles – although I would have expected more to have been made of a black/white relationship by others at that time even if the growing love between Morse and his girlfriend was all that was important to the characters themselves.
The “cherchez l’argent” rule doesn’t always apply to the motivations of the baddies in such dramas. In this case it was a red herring but to say more would give too much away. All I will say is that the ending was the kind that makes you chuck a cushion at the TV.