Written by: Peter Nichols, based upon the novel by Colin Dexter
Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: John Thaw, Kevin Whately, Martin Jarvis, Jan Harvey, Eve Adam
- Dexter bibliography
Released by: BFS.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Mystery fans and classicists should own it.
[ad#longpost]Greeks Bearing Gifts brings Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis (Thaw and Whately) back to solve not only a murder mystery, but the disappearance of a baby. It seems that there has been a murder within the Greek community of Oxford city, but Morse gets little cooperation, or language help, from the close-knit community. What’s more, Oxford’s usually helpful classical scholars are also closing ranks and leaving Morse out. The only clues Morse really has is a set of photos showing a baby, a reconstructed trireme, a young girl, and some random people. Soon, however, Nicos the chef isn’t the only stiff Morse finds himself confronted with.
As mysteries go, the Inspector Morse series is very good. They’re clever enough to be challenging and avoid the mistake that more irritating mysteries make in making key facts unavailable to the reader and only to the sleuth. This one takes on such issues as bareness and bad marriages, cultural disputes over artifacts, and the way ethnic communities are said to close ranks against the police when one of their own is either harmed or suspected. Even Morse himself almost doesn’t solve this case, as much of what he needs to know to find the murderer is hidden from public knowledge, and there are too many suspects who seem suspicious and make themselves unlikable. What’s more, this is one mystery that’s actually believable, even if the murderer’s sanity is rather in question.
The acting quality is as good as the previous Morse mysteries. Eve Adam, as our temporary translator Jocasta Georgiadis, is particularly good, caught between the mystery and the truth–and a member of two conflicting ethnic groups while not wholly a member of either. Jan Harvey is excellent as the TV personality, as well, and of course Thaw and Whately are always good, truly understanding their roles. Keep an eye out for the usual Colin Dexter cameo; this time, he’s leaving Porter’s Lodge with a lovely woman, just as Morse is leaving the college after a dinner with Jerome Hogg.
The video quality is very good, considering it was made for TV and several years old. You won’t have any trouble viewing it, and the print is clean and dirt-free. The beauty of the city of Oxford is there for all to see. In an interesting twist, there is a film within the film, as Morse watches a documentary about the reconstruction of a Greek trireme on the Aegean, done by a British-Greek group of scholars. This film, an important clue for Morse, is also done in grainier film to set it off from the main movie–a nice touch. The sound is also very good, especially considering that the Greek dialogue parts must be crystal clear, or non-native speakers won’t be able to follow the dialogue. All in all, it’s a great print.
The features list is nice, indeed: we get a keen set of trivia notes that will please any Dexter or Morse fan. We also get biographies and filmographies for the principle actors, and a bibliography for Colin Dexter. This may not be the most stacked DVD of all time, but the choices are well-done and things fans will actually want, not just throwaways.
Classical scholars of course will love this episode particularly, as will anyone interesting in academia or Oxford University. Anglophiles, as always, will love Inspector Morse as well. He’s not as deductive as our beloved Holmes, but he’s a good choice for people who prefer police procedurals or gritty, realistic dramas. Once again, Morse has to be reminded not to antagonize the rich and the famous just for the heck of it; I guess that’s part of why we love him. Just remember, when a classicist makes a joke, laugh, darn you, laugh. It’s the least you can do. And try not to drool too much over Hogg’s office. Even though it’s filled with gorgeous shelves of books. And ornate medieval windows. And classical tidbits.