First on this tape, Inspector Morse and an episode called Deadly Slumber. It’s written by Daniel Boyle – no, not Danny Boyle, who did actually direct a couple of episodes of the show, but another writer who also wrote for Hamish Macbeth, and whose first credit was for the odd Subutteo-themed miniseries Playing for Real which I remember watching, but which doesn’t seem to appear in my tape database, so I can’t have kept it.
This one’s got a good cast. Here’s Janet Suzman as Dr Brewster, whose husband is found dead in his garage with the car engine running as the show opens.
Something doesn’t sit right about the apparent suicide, a suspicion confirmed by pathologist Ian McNeice.
He was bound and gagged in his car. Murdered in his own car. Whoever killed him must have used breathing apparatus in order to remove the ropes and gag once he was dead.
Suzman thinks murder is preposterous. But her son tells Morse about Michael Steppings, who blamed his father for his daughter getting brain damage after a minor operation. The son tells Morse he’s been sending threatening notes.
Steppings is played by Brian Cox.
Steppings appears to live in a converted TIE Fighter.
The threatening notes have the impression of some numbers on them, which turn out to be the combination to Steppings’ safe, putting him in the frame for the murder. He even has diving equipment. Seems like a slam dunk, except this is only 40 minutes in. And the victim’s son is getting suspicious closeups with foreboding music.
Steppings has to prove his alibi that he was at a pub when the murder took place, and after a bit of legwork, Morse and Lewis confirm it, letting Steppings off the hook.
There’s a lovely scene where, after Morse has sent flowers to the room of Steppings’ daughter, Steppings offers Morse a large cheque – not for confirming his alibi, as Morse says “That’s my job” – but for treating his daughter as if she’s still alive. He’s the first person to do so according to Steppings.
So suspicion passes to the victim’s son. He knew that his father was going to leave his mother for a nurse at the clinic they run, and he knew someone with access to diving equipment. And when they find a roll of tape in a locker with the scuba gear, it looks like another open and shut case.
But there’s a whole other part to go, as Janet Suzman denies that her son could be guilty, then has a massive heart attack. And things don’t add up with the son’s confession.
Could it be the mother? The victim’s lover, the nurse? The mother’s doctor?
Lewis discovers a discrepancy in Suzman’s medical records – she was shown to be in hospital on a day when she was supposed to have been acting as anaesthetist for an operation like the one in which Steppings’ daughter was crippled.
And in a twist, Steppings’ alibi for the pub is revealed to be none other than the nurse at the clinic. Suddenly it all comes back to Steppings, but before they can arrest him, they find him dead, head bashed in with a wrench. That crime definitely was the son’s.
Very twisty turny.
Next, another episode entitled Day of the Devil. It starts with a creepy looking Keith Allen escaping from a secure hospital.
He’s a bit of a master of disguise. Morse gives a statement to the press in a car park, about 100 yards away from him.
He’s interested in priest Richard Griffith
and he manipulated doctor Harriet Walter to help him escape.
This is a bit of an atypical Morse episode. It’s a manhunt rather than a mystery, the show appears to be trying to head into Cracker territory. At one point, Allen lures Griffith over to his church by playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue on the organ very loudly, so that Griffith will discover a released kidnap victim. It’s almost a bad parody.
Allen is supposed to be some sort of devil worshipper, which leads Lewis to an occult bookshop owned by Kevin Stoney.
Oh God, Allen’s got another disguise now.
And now there’s a bunch of old men doing a satanic ritual in a wood, when suddenly a ring of fire surrounds them, and this figure walks towards them. Another disguise?
I confess I’m slowly losing the will to live with this one. And now here’s Allen in yet another amazing disguise.
Gilly Coman, who was the woman he abducted, manages to shoot him, then she chooses to drive to the police station to tell them, during which time, of course, Allen escapes.
But he’s tracked down to a house where Harriet Walter finds him – she’s been manipulating him all along as revenge for him raping her years earlier. And she goads him into trying to shoot Morse, but she’s ensured there’s no bullets in the gun, and Allen is shot dead by police.
This is a very silly story, not helped by the fact that I can rarely take Allen seriously in this kind of role.
After this, there’s a trailer for Real Men, and then the tape ends.