Hello fellow Morsonians and welcome to this review of episode 26, Deadly Slumber. I have already reviewed episodes 1 to 25. To read those reviews click this link Morse episode reviews.
On Sunday the 22nd September 2019 I will live streaming this episode on Twitch. For that reason I thought I should write this review and hopefully will help in people’s enjoyment of the episode. However, to be honest this episode is easy to enjoy without my review.
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Morse, Series Seven, Episode one.
Chronologically this is episode 26
First broadcast 6th January. 1993.
Colin gets a speaking part.
Directed by Stuart Orme. Also directed the Lewis episode The Great and the Good (2008).
Written by Daniel Boyle. Also wrote the Morse episodes, The Day of the Devil (1993), Happy Families (1992), Dead on Time (1992) and Second Time Around (1991). He also wrote the Lewis episode Whom the Gods Would Destroy (2007).
Doctors Matthew and Claire Brewster are owners of a private clinic. Matthew Brewster is found dead in his garage with the car engine running. It appears a clear cut suicide but the pathologist discovers he was murdered. Morse and Lewis uncover a very possible subject in the shape Michael Steppings. He not only threatened the victim but Steppings’ daughter was declared brain dead while undergoing simple surgery at the clinic. Lewis discovers Wendy Hazlitt, a nurse at the clinic, had an affair with Matthew Brewster. Morse likes Steppings especially the man’s apparent humanity and his unfailing love for his daughter who will never recover from her brain injuries. Morse and Lewis turn their attentions to the Brewster’s son who never say eye to eye with his father and apparently was angry at his father for rejecting his mother in favour of Wendy Hazlitt.
(warning, this review will contain some spoilers)
Morse has just returned from two weeks in Italy. (He was only there three episodes ago, Death of the Self. He loves Italy. 🙂 ) We learn about Morse’s holiday from a conversation with Lewis.
Lewis – l’ve been on the go since eight this morning.
Morse – So have l, Sergeant.
Lewis – But l haven’t spent the last two weeks lying on a beach in Italy, have I?
Morse – l spent my holiday engaged in cultural pursuits, Lewis, not lying on a beach.
I will lay my figurative cards on the table and write that Deadly Slumber is one of my all time favourite Morse episodes. It is an episode that highlights obsession, a parent’s unwavering love for their child and the arrogance of the medical profession. One of the episode’s negative points is that the episode also has the stereotypical and over used theme of a woman scorned, Wendy Hazlitt.
This episode sees the start of series seven which only contains three episodes, Deadly Slumber, Day of the Devil and Twilight of the Gods. This would be the last proper series as the episodes from The Way Through the Woods to The Remorseful Day (five in total) would be one off specials. Graham a friend, related to me that during the filming of the episode Death of the Self, John Thaw and Kevin Whately discussed calling an end to the show. That end was in sight when this episode and seventh series was filmed.
Deadly Slumber is an excellent start to the seventh series as it oozes class, charm, emotion, humour and the colleges of Oxford return after their absence from the last episode of the sixth series, Cherubim and Seraphim. Talking of humour;
A lovely scene where Lewis and Morse share a joke.
Though Kevin Whately and John Thaw had done 25 two hour shows in six years and probably knew they were nearing the end of the show, they certainly did not phone in their performances. Both, as always in anything they did, gave 100% and because of that the show continues to entertain in a way that other shows can only dream of.
Morse in this and also in third episode of the seventh series, Twilight of the Gods, smiles a bit more and shows more compassion toward his fellow man. He even thanks two constables during the show for the work they have carried out which as most of us will know is a rarity in the Morse world. Lewis also comes in for a lot of praise from Morse.
Morse as we all know can be arrogant, grumpy, condescending and patronising but we know that he is a man who, when the opportunity arises, can show great compassion and emotion. This episode brings out that compassion in spades in regard to Michael Steppings and his daughter. Morse sending flowers to the comatose Avril Steppings gave us an insight to how Morse can be. As Michael Steppings says to Morse, “AII the time my girl’s been there, you’re the first person to treat her as though she’s still alive.”
The episode is helped in it’s excellence by the wonderful Scottish actor Brian Cox. In any role he plays he brings gravitas. Brian is so charming in this episode that we, like Morse, find ourselves being drawn to him even though we think he may have killed Matthew Brewster. Does Michael Steppings deserve our sympathy even though we and Morse believe he killed Brewster? Because of what happened to his daughter at the hands of the Brewsters does this justify his killing of Matthew Brewster. As a parent I could never say with complete conviction that I wouldn’t want the ultimate revenge if someone killed one of my children and I am not a violent person.
Can one killing justify another? This is a question that the episode puts to us front and centre. At this moment in time my answer would be no. But if the circumstances arose as it did to Michael Steppings could I honestly say that my answer would be any different to his actions? I hope I am never tested in regard to that question.
I have wondered if Morse’s sympathy and empathy for Steppings and in particular his daughter may have something to do with the loss of his niece in the previous episode, Cherubim and Seraphim.
As you will see below I have given the episode eight. Why not nine or even ten. Firstly, it is as I mentioned above, the episode has that old chestnut of a woman scorned and looking for revenge; in this case Wendy Hazlitt on Matthew Brewster (they were lovers for a while). Secondly, the revenge plot of Michael Steppings is a little convoluted and relied on a little to many variables pointing the police in the correct direction: The female bar owner remembering Steppings, the police doing a TV appeal for the person (Wendy Hazlitt as it turned out) to come forward, John Brewster keeping quiet about him being set up by Steppings and going straight home after waiting for Steppings at his house. There are others which I am sure you will notice or have noticed.
But of course these negatives do not detract from a what is a great episode and sets us up nicely for another great episode in series seven, The Day of the Devil.
Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.
The times shown below are approximate and are based on the British DVDs.
Morse is in his flat trying to decipher the numbers on the sheet of paper. The music playing is the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110 by Beethoven
Morse is at home listening to Piano Concerto No.23 In A Major, K 488 Adagio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Mrs Brewster is sitting at home. She is listening to Piano Concerto No.23 In A Major, K 488 Adagio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Morse is listening to music in his office. This is The Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major, K. 382 by Mozart.
I noticed on my Morse Music excel sheet that I had made a mistake in regard to the time of the first piece and that I had not included the last piece. So, I have updated the Morse Music List excel sheet and PDF.
Click Morse Music to download the excel sheet.
Click Morse Music 20th sept 2019 to download the above as a PDF.
Thank you to one of my Twitch followers and member of my Sunday Night Morse Club who pointed out that the book Steppings reads to his daughter in the hospital is Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.
Thank you again to two of my members of the Sunday Night Morse Club they have pointed out that the title of the episode, Deadly Slumber is from a book titled, The Faithful Shepherdess (1609) by John Fletcher. The quote is;
The warm blood gusheth out afresh. She is an unpolluted maid; I must have this bleeding staid. From my banks I pluck this flower With holy hand, whose vertuous power Is at once to heal and draw. The blood returns. I never saw A fairer Mortal. Now doth break Her deadly slumber
Thank you to Nancy who has identified the following.
In the episode Deadly Slumber Nancy has identified an etching in Morse’s living room.
This etching is by Piranesi (Nancy has identified numerous Piranesi etchings in Morse episodes. (There must have been a job lot bought by the production team). The etching is called, Main Facade of the San Giovanni in Laterano.
Later in Morse’s office at the police station we see an opera poster on the wall;.
It is a Royal Opera House poster entitled The Royal Opera a Celebration of Mozart and is currently stored at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Thank you Nancy for all your hard work.
The opening scene looks across Oxford city.
- Radcliffe Camera.
- University Church of St Mary the Virgin.
- Sheldonian Theatre.
- Christ Church Cathedral.
- Wadham College.
The shot was either taken with a camera crane or the highest and nearest building that could be used for that shot is the Department of Earth Sciences on South Parks Road.
Update 08/06/2021. Thank you to TomK who sent me the following information; “The opening overview of the city was filmed from the Hans Krebs Tower, which housed the department of biochemistry, and was demolished in 2014. It was an exceptionally ugly eight story building, and was said to provide the best views of Oxford, because it was the only place from which you couldn’t see the building. I have a photo taken from the top floor which matches perfectly. Although it was ugly, there was amazing and important research done there.”
Above is a photo of the Hans Krebs Tower.
The second scene opens in a pub. (See Pub Locations below for more information).
The next scene sees Jane running after John. They are moving down Catte Street.
Catte Street has been used many times in all three series in the Morse Universe.
The Brewster’s private clinic. Unidentified.
Morse and Lewis leave the police station. Unidentified.
Morse waits to talk to Jane Foley.
This is Oriel College.
We get our first proper look at the Brewster house. Unknown location.
Michael Steppings house. Unconfirmed location.
Someone told me they believed this is a place called Dodds Mill, Chenies, Buckinghamshire. I am not completely convinced so this I will put down as unconfirmed. However, this location is near the location where Lewis meets the crime prevention officer who had visited Steppings’ house.
Burnley Green Hospital. Burnley Green hospital is the Milton Keynes hospital. Thank you to Tassos Vassilakis for confirming this location.
29 minutes – John Brewster goes into Jane’s rooms.
This location is not Oriel College. Unfortunately, I can’t identify it. I can’t even be sure it’s an Oxford College. The only clues to it’s identity are what you see in the three pictures above. A subscriber, David, wrote to me to let me know they believe the above is Oriel College. David wrote, “I think this is Oriel College, but it has been altered a little since the episode was shot.
The doorway is in the third quad and is now the entrance to the Pantin Library. John Brewster descends the steps and walks to what is now the JCR entrance.
I think this was altered around ten years ago so it looks a little different now.”
Lewis and Morse enter the Forensic Science Laboratory.
This is the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory off South Parks Road, Oxford.
Morse visits the flat of Wendy Hazlitt.
This flat is on St Aldates in Oxford. In the first picture we can see Christ Church College in the background.
Wendy’s flat is on the left. Christ Church over to the right.
In case you can’t read clearly the words at the bottom of the picture; ‘This cafe was used as a location in the Lewis episode The Indelible Stain.’
The crime prevention officer meets Lewis.
This is Church Lane, Latimer, Bucks.
Morse and Lewis take Michael Stepping to the Black Swan Pub. See details below in Pub Location section.
Another pub where Lewis and Morse have a drink. See the Pub Location section below for more info.
Lewis and Morse are walking and talking about the case.
This is Magpie Lane that connects the High Street to Merton Street.
Morse and Lewis are searching for shops that sell aqualungs.
This is Turl Street, Oxford.
Morse and Lewis are walking in the directions of the arrows toward Broad Street.
They get into the jag and drive off down Broad Street.
Morse and Lewis visit where the diving club meet. Unidentified location.
Morse and Lewis go looking for John Brewster.
This is Worcester College. 1 Walton St, Oxford OX1 2HB.
Lewis and Morse talk to John Brewster in Worcester College Library. Colin Dexter is the porter.
We see Jane Foley walking from Merton Street into Oriel Square. Morse calls to her.
Lewis goes to visit Mark Felsham at the Radcliffe Infirmary.
The Radcliffe Infirmary was a hospital in central north Oxford, England, located at the southern end of Woodstock Road on the western side, backing onto Walton Street. The infirmary closed for medical use in 2007. Following refurbishment, the infirmary building was re-opened in October 2012 for use by the Faculty of Philosophy and both the Philosophy and Theology libraries of the University of Oxford.
The second scene of the episode opens in a pub. This is the King’s Arms at the corner of Holywell Street and Parks Road.
Morse and Lewis take Michael Steppings to the Black Swan pub to try and back up his alibi as having been there on the night of the murder.
The pub is actually called the Black Swan. The Black Swan, Old Ln, Ockham, Surrey KT11 1NG.
This pub was used in the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London and in the film was called The Slaughtered Lamb.
Lewis and Morse have a drink while awaiting the results of the TV appeal.
I’m not sure which pub this is. It may be the Black Swan.
Actors who appeared in Deadly Slumber and/or Endeavour and Lewis.
Jason Durr who played John Brewster.
He also appeared in two episodes of the Lewis series as DI Peterson: The Indelible Stain (2012) and Generation of Vipers (video below) (2012).
Ian McNiece who plays the Pathologist,
also appeared in the Lewis episode Life Born of Fire (2008) as the Rev King.
CONNECTIONS OTHER THAN ACTORS TO THE LEWIS AND ENDEAVOUR SERIES.
There are of course the overlap in regards to colleges and locations used though Worcester college is not used all that often. Off the top of my head I can only remember it being used in the Lewis episode Fearful Symmetry.
In this episode Steppings reads the children’s book Black Beauty to his daughter. Anne Kirby, the little who goes missing in the opening episode of the sixth series of Endeavour (Pylon), is reading Anna Sewell’s wonderful children’s book Black Beauty.
At around 32 minutes Morse and Lewis are discussing the transcript of the Brewster trial.
My question is, why does Morse have vinyl LPs in his office? Surely he doesn’t have a record player. We have never seen him play records in his office. The radio and cassette player but never a record player.
It’s been established that Morse has returned recently from holiday in Italy. We know that he had a little ‘fling’ with Nicole Burgess while in Italy during the episode Death of the Self. Is it a coincidence that Nicole sang from the opera Turandot in that episode and we see a poster in the picture above of said opera in his office.
At 49 minutes in the pub we learn a little more on Morse’s rather staid, old fashioned idea as to what passes as flirting between a woman alone in the pub and a single man.
Morse – Could be a thousand reasons for her not to come forward. What if she’s a married woman? She might not want her husband to know she spoke to a strange man in a pub.
Lewis – She asked him to move his jacket.
Morse – And went on to say the pub was crowded.
Lewis – lt was. The landlord said so.
Morse – But that’s not the point, is it? Her second comment was unnecessary, voluntary.
She was out on her own, Lewis. Good God, do I have to speII it out? Lewis – l am interested in hearing what you have to say, sir.
Morse – lt was obviously a flirtation, Lewis. lnnocent, l’m sure. But l doubt if her husband would see it that way.
Lewis tells a ‘dad’ joke. We get a little of the famous drawn out ‘Lewis’ reaction form Morse.
Morse and Lewis find John Brewster in a library.
Behind John you can see stained glass with the words, ‘Over Fork Over’.
The phrase belongs to the coat of arms of the Earls of Glencairn. One story behind the phrase, ‘Over Fork Over’ has a connection with the historical Macbeth. After killing Duncan (1st Historical King of Scotland), Macbeth sent his men to kill Duncan’s son, Malcolm Canmore. While being chased by Macbeth’s men, prince Canmore took refuge in the barn of a lowland farmer, Malcolm, son of Friskin. Understanding the danger the prince was in, the son of Friskin told Malcolm Canmore to hide under some straw in the barn. The farmer received help covering the prince and called out to his companion, “Over, fork over,” as they worked to heap layers of straw over the prince. Another version says the prince ordered the son of Friskin to quickly put straw over him, telling the farmer to “Over, fork over!” When Macbeth’s men approached the barn a few moments later, they asked if the farmer had seen the prince. Malcolm, son of Friskin replied he had not, saving the prince’s life.
In the mortuary the pathologist gives his opinion on how the first murder was carried out. He says, “Well, either you’re looking for someone with an exceptional pair of lungs – a Japanese pearl diver, say – or your kiIIer was a common or garden EngIishman using breathing apparatus, perhaps.” He was correct in regard to the killer using breathing apparatus but wrong in believing it was a ‘common or garden Englishman.’ It was a Scotsman.
On re watching the episode for this review I am convinced John Thaw had lost a lot of weight between series 6 and series 7.
Was he ill even back as far as 1993? Nine years before he passed away. Or did he simply go on a diet.
Oxford College Used as Locations.
THE MURDERED, THEIR MURDERER/S AND THEIR METHODS.
Dr. Mathew Brewster. Asphyxiation. Killed by Michael Steppings.
Michael Steppings. Bludgeoned to death. Killed by John Brewster.
Dr. Claire Brewster died of a heart attack.
Robert Swann who played Mark Felsham
Died: April 17, 2006 (age 61).
Carol Starks as Jane Folley
Jason Durr as John Brewster
Janet Suzman as Dr. Claire Brewster
Richard Owens as Dr. Mathew Brewster
Jestyn Phillips as Card Player. The man sitting on the right of the picture.
Adam Maxwell as Policeman
Ian McNeice as Pathologist
Robert Swann as Mark Felsham
David Goudge as Policeman
Lou Wakefield as Forensic Scientist
Brian Cox as Michael Steppings
Patrick Godfrey as Dr. Greer
Penny Downie as Nurse Wendy Hazlitt
Connor Byrne as Constable Willis
James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange
Timothy Morand as Mr. Hart – Pub Landlord
Su Elliot as Mrs. Hart
Kate Hillier as Nurse
John Bett as Thomas Neely