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""Cherubim & Seraphim", the second Inspector Morse episode to be directed by Danny Boyle (the other was "Masonic Mysteries"; an episode which literally hits Morse close to home!), who's the well-renowned director behind such feature-films as Trainspotting and The Beach, and features his trademark directorial style, deviates from the norm in terms of the way in which the plot unfolds: unlike other Morse episodes, instead of being a conventional - or not-so, in some cases - whodunit, all along the audience knows who the guilty party is, à la Columbo. The culprit in this case is the procurer of ecstasy-like drugs, played by Jason Isaacs [The Patriot], in yet another evil role. The script centers around the fact three youths have died by suicidal means and, as we find out, had all been partaking, days anterior to their deaths, in the aforementioned drug. The youths' walls were adorned posters in their rooms containing computer-generated patterns which represent the "Chaos Theory" (e.g. if a butterfly is beating its wings somewhere, there will be a hurricane somewhere else, and these two seemingly unrelated events are in fact interrelate), which Sgt. Lewis is more that happy to explain to Morse; and they were all in the same type of eclectic dance music. It's one of the more personal Inspector Morse episodes, as one of the deceased youths happens to be Morse's step-niece; it also shows how out of touch Morse is with contemporary youth culture (drugs/sex/music) and children in general. For instance, when Morse stops by the school to interview his step-niece's best friend who was the last person to see her alive, he unwittingly stumbles in to her euphemistically-titled "Personal & Social Development" class just when the teacher is asking a student if he knows what the contraceptive device she's holding in her hand is. He's taken aback by the mere fact that they're having a teacher-student discussion, no less a class, about sex in school. In this episode, Morse reveals some of his past secrets to Lewis, whom he addresses, in a rarely captured televised moment, by his first name ("Robbie"). Three of the revelations include how his parents frequently fought and their subsequent brake-up, one of his low points as a morose 15-year-old, and the roots of the acrimonious relationship he continues to have with his step-mother. Definitely one of the best Morse films for catching a glimpse into his upbringing. Even the dance-oriented music in this episode, which incorporates classical music into its medley, is really well done. Overall it's another superlative self-contained film featuring Chief Inspector Morse."
Time Capsule Morse
thisisgibbie | Indianapolis | 07/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there was any program that got the closest to reflecting correctly life in Britain during the 80s and 90s, it was Inspector Morse. While "Masonic Mysteries" and "Last Seen Wearing" are probably the best of the mysteries, "Cherubim and Seraphim" is the one that captures the British 80s/90s Zeitgeist best. The direction of this program is as good as any well-done British thriller.It was end of an era. Now you'll understand Peter Hitchens."
Haunting, real: the hidden lives of teenagers
J. Clemons | Surfdom California | 07/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I believe the Morse series to be outstanding. Only the Wonder Years matches it for quality and exceeds it because of the W. Years' timeles themes, not just for teenagers. But Morse is top-notch and it is doubtful any actor has surpassed John Thaw in making a series so gritty, real, so compulsively watchable, no matter how weak the stories (and there are some weak ones). The secondary roles are well done, the photography is excellent I have read three of Colin Dexter's (originator of Morse) novels and they are far, far inferior to the televised version-which is unusual. Cherubim and Seraphim does drag a bit, but the theme, the anguish, the pain trumps its over-length. Young people do take drugs for a variety of reasons and this twist on the kind of drug they take is quite clever. There should have been more scenes of teenage partying. But if you watch carefully, you may recognize that the main theme is the vulnerability of humans and the inability of Morse to fully comprehend teenage angst and the attraction of euphoric drugs. Given his liquor addiction and his love of opera (INSIGHT: most operas border on the edge of madness either in part or whole: it is interesting that Morse loves opera so much. It is worth an analysis). Beginning should have spent more time on Morse's step-niece while she was alive. But this is a judgment call by the writer and director--they went for big dramatic effect without development of character. This was one of the best Morse's--family emotion, young people and drugs, Morse's feeling for his niece (largely it seems because she was highly intelligent, like Morse himself--very true to life). Highly recommend this episode and all Morse episodes--I've seen all but three. Of all the mystery-suspense serieses put out by Brit. T.v. this is by far the best."
William J. Thor | Vero Beach | 12/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This entry is worthy as a good mystery, but not up to par with what we have come to expect from this series. Our usual topping or icing which usually is opera, non-operatic classical music as well as romance - and to a lesser extent literature and art, cannot be found. And because of this, other "filler" material is substituted - in one of the featured roles the character could be eliminated without any effect on the plot whatever. However we do learn some very interesting information relative to Morse's teenage years. Now the curmudgeon finds it extremely difficult to deal with drugs and rock, without alcohol - he just cannot comprehend our youth in such an environment. In an interesting aside he calls Lewis by his given name "Robbie." This is worth a view, but is well down the list of Morse episodes."
"Why did she do it? Because she'd seen everything and there
Mary Whipple | New England | 08/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most personal of all the Morse episodes, Cherubim and Seraphim reveals Morse's difficult early family life, and we meet his stepmother, his half-sister, and his half-sister's children. All is not well. His stepmother, who has dementia and is living in a nursing home, still hates him, and his niece, a young woman to whom he has been extremely close, has suddenly died. Morse offers comfort to his half-sister and her family, but when the postmortem reveals his niece's death to be a suicide, he himself is so distraught that comfort is not possible. Soon another talented young person, the hope of his immigrant family, has also committed suicide in another part of town. By week's end, three young people have committed suicide.
As Morse and Lewis investigate these separate cases, the lives of young people in the late 1980s are fully revealed--their interest in non-traditional music and art, their willingness to trust each other but not share their lives with adults, their love of concerts (especially those given secretly in abandoned buildings), and their search for meaning in a world that they see as meaningless. Presented through the keen eye of cinematographer Peter Greenhalgh, the visual details of this period and lifestyle are dramatic and memorable for the viewer, whether filmed in abandoned buildings at night, at impromptu concerts in haze and smoke, or during the day in the private rooms of the victims.
Morse (John Thaw) is powerfully effective in this episode, emphasizing the gap between his own life and that of his niece, and Sgt. Lewis (Kevin Whately), whose own children are the ages of the young people who have killed themselves, reflects the concerns of parents of teenagers everywhere. Though an episode featuring the deaths of talented teenagers may seem morbid to some viewers and melodramatic to others, the emphasis on Morse and his reactions to events broadens the viewer's knowledge of Morse's life, and makes him a more sympathetic character. And when the young people's reasons for killing themselves become clear, viewers will be as outraged as Morse at the crassness of some adults. Powerful and personal, this episode is an effective reminder of the times and of the seriousness with which young people search for answers in their confusing worlds. (4.5 stars) n Mary Whipple "