Hello fellow Morsonians and welcome to my new post on the episode, Promised Land. Here we have Morse’s first episode which was not set in England, (the second time is in the episode Death of the Self where Morse and Lewis travel to Italy).
Chronologically this is episode 20. (Series 5 episode 5).
First broadcast in the UK on 27th March 1991.
This episode is not based on a Colin Dexter novel.
This is one of the few episodes when Colin did not make an appearance.
Directed by John Madden: also directed The Infernal Serpent, Dead on Time and The Way Through the Woods.
Written by Julian Mitchell: also wrote The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, Service of All the Dead, The Wolvercote Tongue, Ghost in the Machine, Masonic Mysteries, Cherubim and Seraphim, Twilight of the Gods, The Daughters of Cain and Death Is Now My Neighbour.
After the death of the convict and apparent bank robber Peter Matthews in jail from A.I.D.S. the veracity of his conviction is questioned. Morse, who was involved in the investigation of what became known as the Abingdon bank robbery, is told he will have to re-interview their ‘supergrass’ witness whose evidence helped put all those involved in the robbery behind bars. That supergrass, Kenny Stone, was set up with a new life… in Australia.
(warning, this review may contain some spoilers)
Whenever a TV series is flagging in the ratings the producers will usually create an episode which is set in a different country to its normal setting. This is certainly not the case in the Inspector Morse series. In fact the ratings for series five were very good averaging around 15 million.
I believe the main reason for this type of episode was to see Morse as the proverbial ‘fish out of water’. In the last episode, Greeks Bearing Gifts, he was a little out of his depth trying to tangle with a foreign culture but at least he was still on home-ground, Oxford. In this episode he is finding it difficult to breathe (to continue the fish metaphor) figuratively as well as literally at times due to the hot weather.
In Promised Land Morse is lost in a country that is totally alien to him. He is not only lost culturally but also at times emotionally and mentally. Morse tries to bring an Oxford mentality to the Australian landscape and it proves his undoing.
Meanwhile Lewis takes to the Australian cultural like Donald Trump to a pretty woman, he cannot get enough of it. Lewis unlike Morse is able to relate to the Australian way of life and embrace it tightly. Ironically his son will eventually emigrate to Australia as we have learnt via the Lewis series.
It is interesting to watch Morse struggling with the idea that he may have convicted the wrong man, Peter Matthews. Worse, that man died slowly and painfully from A.I.D.S. Morse’s conscience is always clear when it comes to who he has convicted as he is certain that all deserved to be in jail, all were guilty. But now Morse has to come to terms with the possibility that he may be responsible for the death of Peter Matthews. Morse not only feels responsible for the death of Peter Matthews but also the subsequent deaths that occur as a result of Peter Matthews’s demise. What makes matters worse for Morse is that he may have acted out of revenge and not justice.
Morse talks to Lewis about needing to face Paul Matthews alone and anyway he remarks “I’m old and unmarried. I don’t understand human nature.” Is Morse suicidal? Is he hoping to commit suicide at someone else’s hand namely Paul Matthews. Morse certainly tells Paul that he is to blame while Matthews is pointing a gun at him from only a few feet away. Morse is almost tacitly telling Matthews that he deserves to die for the events that have occurred.
Morse’s turmoil and inconsolable nature are brilliantly portrayed by John Thaw. After twenty episodes and forty hours of Morse, John Thaw was still able to illustrate new strata to the Morse character. As we watch the episode we can see Morse slowly begin to crumble like a long deserted building and this is due to the force of nature that was John Thaw.
What has helped enjoy this episode a little more is it’s recent connection to the Endeavour episode Coda.
Like many of the episodes of Morse this episode is not perfect. The depiction of Australia and some of it’s inhabitants is a little stereotypical. From the empty streets of a dusty town to the slow witted local policeman to the overuse of the word pommy. But I do believe that some things are stereotypical because they are based on so many actual examples. However, I do feel that a writer of Julian Mitchell’s calibre could have reined in the cliches. (Though Julian can be prone to including stereotypes as we will see when I review one of Julian’s other episodes, Twilight of the Gods in the near future).
Portentously, the next episode Dead on Time will see Morse crumble further and find it more difficult to grasp a reason to live.
Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.
The only piece of classical music in this episode is at the end of the episode, Hab’ mir’s gelobt from Der Rosenkavalier. This piece can be found on the Inspector Morse Soundtrack CD Volume 3.
The first literary reference is the obvious one, Promised Land. The promised land is also referred to as ‘the land of milk and honey’. I don’t believe there is an actual exact reference to the ‘promised land’ in the Bible. There is many references to Abraham and Moses being promised a land; the territory from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates river (Exodus 23:31). There are however many references to ‘the land of milk and honey’ in the Bible.
Morse doesn’t believe Kenny Stone is capable of taking his own life. His reasoning being that “When it comes to the great perhaps, Mike Harding will follow the Pascal”. Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist. Pascal’s Wager is an argument in philosophy that posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).
No art to speak of in this episode.
The location of the funeral of Peter Matthews is Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London.
The same location was used at the beginning of the Endeavour episode Coda in 2016. More on that episodes connection to Promised Land later.
Morse tells Lewis that they are going to Hereford, New South Wales. There is no Hereford district or town in New South Wales.
The actual town they visit is Canowindra, New South Wales, Australia.
Above is the hotel in the background of the picture above with Lewis and Morse. The address is 74 Gaskill Street CANOWINDRA NSW 2804.
The site of the scene where Morse meets up with Peter Matthews brother near the end of the episode,
is Canowindra Railway Station, New South Wales, Australia.
The final location is Sydney Opera House – 2 Macquarie Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Morse is circled.
Some memorable lines in the episodes:
Strange: “You know what they say about funerals. Someone always catches their death.”
Morse: “You have too many relatives Lewis. A police man ought to be free.”
Lewis: “What do you want me there for anyway? You’re only going to interview him.
Morse: “I can’t carry my own bags can I. I’m a Chief Inspector.”
Lewis: “Matter of fact. I’ve got cousins in New South Wales.”
Lewis: “Garden of Eden this.”
Morse: “Then watch out for snakes.”
Lewis: (Looking out over a field) “In the supergrass.”
Morse: “Do Australians take siestas or what?”
Lewis: “There’s a lot of Italians over here I know that.”
Lewis: “Orange juice? What’s the matter with you?”
Morse: “They don’t spell Australian beer with four X’s out of ignorance.They mean what they say. And lite beer is the invention of the Prince of Darkness.”
Dave Harding: “It’s a big country. There’s a lot to explore. It’s wilderness. Unmapped. I like that.”
Morse: “But its so…empty.”
Morse walks up to where Lewis is cooking a steak on a BBQ.
Morse: “My doctor says I can’t eat them anymore.”
Lewis: “And you a cattleman.”
Morse: “I suppose I’ll have to have chicken. I hate chicken. What do I have to do?”
Lewis: “Go over and see that girl over there. She’ll give you a portion to cook.”
Morse: “Cook? I have to cook myself.”
Lewis: “Afraid so.”
Lewis: “How old are you?”
Morse: “I forget Robbie.”
The more times I watch this episode the more I am convinced that Morse and Anne Harding had an affair.
I have no definitive proof that such an affair occurred. It’s a just a hunch, a feeling and the way Morse says to Anne that they made a good team in reference to getting Kenny Stone (Mike Harding) to grass on the bank robbers.
Lewis investigates a burglary at the beginning of the episode. The burglary was at the offices of the newspaper, The Tilehurst Gazette.
No actual paper does or ever has existed. There is a Tilehurst, a suburb of the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire.
So, let us get to the elephant in the room, the connection between this episode and the Endeavour episode Coda.
The bank robbery in the Endeavour episode took place in 1967. The Morse episode was broadcast in 1991 but probably filmed in 1990. Inspector Morse mentions in the Promised Land episode that the Abingdon bank raid happened 10 years earlier. So that would mean that the Abingdon bank raid happened either in 1980 or 1981. We have two different bank raids. We have to assume that those that were convicted of the first bank raid shown in the Endeavour episode were released in the late seventies.
Tom Mothersdale as Peter Matthews in the episode Coda.
Promised Land began with a funeral, but it was that of Peter Matthews. Peter had died of AIDS in prison. Morse states in Promised Land that Peter Matthews was driving the car during the Abingdon bank raid but not necessarily the one who pulled the trigger on the gun that killed the officer. But in the Coda episode Peter Matthews is INSIDE the bank and not the getaway driver.
The character of Kenny Stone (Mike Harding) is also mentioned in this episode but only seen in a film shot by the police.
In the Promised Land episode Tommy Thomson is mentioned and shown.
Tommy Thomson is in the Coda episode as one of the villains inside the bank.
Jimmy Walker as Tommy Thompson in Coda.
Also in the Promised Land episode we see Bernie Waters at the funeral.
Bronson Webb as Bernie Waters in Coda.
At the funeral in Coda we see some young children so one has to assume that one of those children is Peter Matthews’ brother Paul Matthews who goes to Australia in the Promised Land episode to kill Kenny Stone.
Con O’Neill as Paul Matthews in the Morse episode, Promised Land.
Actors who appeared in Promised Land and/or Lewis and Endeavour.
First up is the above mentioned Bronson Webb as Bernie Waters.
Bronson Webb as Silas Whittaker in the Lewis episode, Fearful Symmetry. (Series 6, Episode 3)
Coincidentally, Con O’Neill who played Paul Matthews in the Morse episode, Promised Land, also turns up in the Lewis episode, Fearful Symmetry.
Con O’Neill as Dr. Bob Massey in the Lewis episode, Fearful Symmetry.
James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange (Born: 1926 Died: 2012)
Philip Anthony as Tilehurst Gazette Newspaper Editor
Kevin Leslie as Barman
Bill Young as Farmer in Ute (Born: 1 June 1950 (age 67).
Vanessa Patterson as Karen Harding
Rhondda Findleton as Anne Harding
Marie Armstrong as Sash – Nursing Home Matron
John Jarratt as Sergeant Scott Humphries. (Born: 5 August 1951 (age 65).
Maureen Green as Sal – Nurse
Noah Taylor as Dave Harding
Max Phipps as Detective Inspector Glenn McAllister
Peter Browne as Detective Gary Warrender
I hope you enjoyed this post. I am going on holiday next week so there will not be a new post until around Sunday 16th July. Take care.