Hello Morsonians and welcome to my review of the FIRST episode of the new FIRST series, The Dead of Jericho. .
I hope this post finds you all well.
So boring bits out of the way first.
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Originally aired in the UK on the 6th January 1987.
Book published in 1981
Directed by Alistair Reid.
Written by Anthony Minghella.
Anne Stavely is a music teacher, (she proves the theory of nominative determinism), and sings in a local Choral Society as does our hero, Inspector Morse. Morse is attracted to Anne but unfortunately for Morse she is in love with her former employer. When Anne is found hanged in her kitchen, Morse is determined to discover the truth of why she committed suicide and what drove her to it.
This is at around 45 minutes.
(warning, this review will contain some spoilers)
Here it is , the first episode of a series that would captivate me to this very day. With a great actor in the leading role and being ably supported by the British institution that is Kevin Whately. Throw in some great British character actors like Patrick Troughton and Gemma Jones and with hindsight it is difficult to imagine the show failing.
I have to admit that this particular episode doesn’t feature in my top ten all time favourite episodes. However, when the episode is put into context, i.e. the first episode of the first series and taking on a new format of a two hour show, then it can be seen as a fabulous episode that sets up Morse’s character for future episodes. Thankfully, Morse’s leather jacket and hat combination never resurfaced in future episodes.
The episode starts off like an episode of The Sweeney (the section about the raid on the garage at least) and one wonders if this intentional by the writer Anthony Minghella. Is it possible he was trying to wrong-foot the audience? Before that scene we have the incongruous Vivaldi music playing from Morse’s car as he drives to the garage and then of course the cut scenes of the Choral Society. The audience must have wondered what kind of detective show they were watching. I love the incongruity of the typical police show scene with a raid on a crooked garage and the sound of Vivaldi and Parry. How many of the audience were waiting for John Thaw to jump out of the car and shout, ‘You’re nicked’?
There are two small problems I have with the episode. Firstly, is the Agatha Christie style gathering of the suspects at Anne Stavely’s house. This scene just doesn’t work in relation to the rest of the episode. Thankfully, there was no such scenes in future episodes that I can remember. Secondly, the blackmail letter received by Alan Richards. Whose letter did he receive? George Jackson sent a blackmail letter as did Ned Murdoch. Was this a mistake in the script or am I missing something.
A great cast with a solid performance from all concerned. The interaction between Morse and Lewis is excellent and sets us up nicely for forthcoming episodes.
Memorable Line – “You’re a clever sod but you don’t say the right things to the right people.” Spoken by Strange to Morse.
Jag Rating (out of ten):
Anne Stavely – Gemma Jones (B. Dec. 4th 1942 – D. -)
George Jackson – Patrick Troughton (B. march 25th, 1920 – D. March 28th 1987)
Tony Richards – James Laurenson (B. Feb. 17th 1940 – D. – )
Max – Peter Woodthorpe (B. Sep. 25th 1931 – D. Aug. 12th 2004)
Chief Inspector Bell – Norman Jones (B. June 16th, 1932 – D.April 23rd 2013)
Ned Murdock – Spencer Leigh (B. 1963 – D. )
Adele Richards – Annie Lambert (B. Jan. 3rd 1946 – D. – )
Alan Richards – Richard Durden (B. Feb 8th 1944 – D. – )
Chief Superintendent Strange – James Grout (B. Oct, 22nd 1927 – D. June 24th 2012)
Pete (Ned’s room-mate) – David Michaels ( born in 1964 ) Best known to fans of the excellent TV sitcom ‘As Time Goes By’. He played the policeman, sport loving boyfriend of Sandy.
Charlotte Mitchell played Anne Staveley’s mother (Born: July 23, 1926 – Died: May 2, 2012)
(The times are set as hh/mm/ss, i.e. hours, minutes and seconds).
Music by Hubert Parry (1848-1918) and lyrics by Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) ‘My Soul there is a Country‘. Sung by the choir at the very beginning of the episode. The lyrics were actually a poem by the Englishman Henry Vaughan titled ‘Peace’ and put to music by the Englishman Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry.
BY HENRY VAUGHAN
My Soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars;
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And (O my Soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
Music by the Italian Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
The piece is ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ and is played over the scene when Morse is visiting the dodgy garage while in his Jag.
The next piece is being played by Anne Stavely’s pupil (badly) in her house.
The piece is by the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849); ‘Prelude in E-Minor (op.28 no. 4)’.
Here we return to the Hubert Parry (1848-1918) and Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) piece ‘My Soul there is a Country’. Again being sung by the Choir.
The next piece of music is heard while Morse is driving to collect Anne Stavely. It’s by the Austrian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The piece is ‘Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major, K. 449’. (Köchel catalogue. … The Köchel-Verzeichnis or Köchelverzeichnis is an inclusive, chronological catalogue of compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which was originally created by Ludwig von Köchel. It is abbreviated K. or KV).
We return to the Hubert Parry (1848-1918) composition ‘My Soul there is a Country’ This time the piece is played with the choir now singing during their concert for which they were previously rehearsing for.
We now find Morse at home listening to Mozart’s, ‘Le Nozze di Figaro K492 act 2, Porgi Amor (The Marriage of Figaro)’.
I am unable to identify the next piece. It is being played in Ned’s room when Morse visits him and is assumed to be Ned’s uncle by Ned’s roommate. I think it is possibly one of the American minimalist modern composers Philip Glass or Steve Reich.
We are back in Morse’s house when Chief Inspector Strange arrives unexpectedly. The piece is by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and is ‘Don Giovanni, K.527, Act 1: Ah, Chi Mi Dice Mai.’
I’m afraid I couldn’t identify this piece which is playing on the radio in Morse’s office at the Police Station. I think it is Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) but damned if I can recognise it, sorry.
Update: Thanks to A.B. one of my blog readers who sent me an identification for the above piece. It is from ‘Mozart’s Quartet No. 12 in B flat major, K. 172‘
The next piece is again when Morse is at home and Lewis arrives. The piece is by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) and is ‘Fantasie Impromptu Opus 66 in C sharp minor‘. An interesting factoid about this piece is that it was adapted by Harry Carroll for his song ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’ the lyrics were written by Joseph McCarthy. Both versions are below and the lyrical version is sung by the wonderful Judy Garland.
Up next this piece is heard in Morse’s car when he is going to talk to Ned’s tutor. The piece is by the German composer George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759): ‘Concerto grosso Op.3 No.1‘
Another unknown piece for me i’m afraid. The piece is playing on Morse’s radio at the Police Station.
Again a huge thank you to A.B. who sent me an identification for the this piece on the radio as ‘Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony‘
A.B. also pointed out that the piece Morse plays while tinkering on Anne’s piano is Morse plays the opening of the ‘Prelude to Wagner’s _Tristan und Isolde‘ on Anne’s piano in a couple of scenes.
The scenes with the choir that Morse is a part of rehearsing for their concert was filmed at the Royal Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, Surrey. The paintings on the walls are by James Imrie and other unknown people.
The next piece of art in the episode can be seen on Anne Stavely’s living room wall;
Behind Morse is ‘Nighthawks‘ (1942) by the wonderful American painter Edward Hopper (1882- 1967). Below is the painting in all its glory;
We now have two pieces of art to look at and again we are in Anne’s house but this time in the kitchen.
On the left we can see Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s (1828-1882) ‘Proserpine‘ (1874).
And on the right or on Anne’s left we have a poster advertising an exhibition of 1986 at the Ashmolean. The painting being used to advertise the exhibition is by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). The painting is ‘Peasant Women Planting Stakes‘, (1891).
The main and probably only literary reference if you discount Henry Vaughan’s poem is Sophocles’s ‘Oedipus and the King’.
The book is seen lying on Anne’s bedside table and Morse is reading it later in the episode. All information on this play can be found by clicking here.
Jericho, Oxford as it is today:
Canal Street © Julian Walker
Canal in Jericho © Julian Walker
Canal Street with St Barnabus Church in the background. © Julian Walker
Here is a perfect view of where the episode was filmed. Anne Stavely’s house is on the left and George Jackson’s is on the right. © Julian Walker.
The episode was filmed on Combe Road above in the picture but they renamed it Canal Street for the episode. You can see The Old Bookbinder pub in the background where Morse lays out his theory to Lewis on why Sophocles did it.
Julian Walkers’s photographs and others can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wirewiping/
During filming of The Dead of Jericho.