A Different Venue for Morse
S. Barrett | Santa Cruz, CA | 08/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Inspector Morse - Death of the Self
Death of the Self is a departure from the usual Morse Oxford venue, and certainly one of the more complex plots. This 1992 episode is set in Vicenza and Verona, Italy where Morse (John Thaw) and Detective Sergeant Lewis (Kevin Whately) are sent to investigate the death of an Englishwoman who is involved in a pricey psychological program run by Russell Clark (Michael Kitchen) a former adversary whom Morse had put away years before.
The mystery involves a large cast of characters, some of who are difficult to follow, but the main achievement of this story is the gorgeous Lombardy scenery and operatic selections from Rigoletto and Turandot (sung by Scottish operatic soprano Janis Kelly). Viewers are treated to scenes from the Roman arena in Verona, the Palladio's Villa Capra (here used as the residence of opera star Nicole Burgess, played by Frances Barber).
When Morse and Lewis arrive in Italy, they find the Italian police have closed the case, figuring it as accidental death. Morse is suspicious of the woman's death, however, and the two conduct their own investigation, running into many red herrings along the way.
The plot is complicated and not entirely believable, but for the scenery and music alone, this is one episode to watch.
"I burn the past."
Mary Whipple | New England | 09/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the few Morse episodes which takes place outside of Oxford, Death of the Self provides a close-up view of both Vicenza and Verona, Italy, and what a view it is! Some of Vicenza's many Palladian masterpieces become settings for this mystery, and the Roman amphitheatre in Verona, used now as an outdoor opera house, is the major setting for the opera-based subplot.
The overall plot is one of Morse's most complicated, filled with red herrings. A fraud whom Morse (John Thaw) has sent to jail in England is now released and conducting expensive psychological workshops in the hills of Vicenza, urging the participants to "burn the past" and to "be free." When one of the participants dies a gruesome death, all the others are suspects. Among these is Nicole Burgess (Frances Barber), an opera singer (Janis Kelly provides the singing voice) whom Morse greatly admires but whose stage fright has ended her career, unless Russell Clark (Michael Kitchen), the "psychologist," can help her. Nicole's husband, an aristocrat in need of money, is an artist who copies medieval manuscripts. A female writer (the victim) has written a questionable novel, and one of the participants has disappeared.
Morse and Sgt Lewis (Kevin Whately) have only modest success in navigating the ins and outs of the Italian police system, which has closed the murder case. Conveniently for the plot (and for those who want to see a lot of Vicenza and Verona), they do much of their investigation on their own, in and around Vicenza, and the camera work showing off the architecture is worth the price of the episode.
Though the mystery is far-fetched and so full of subplots that it's hard to keep details and characters straight, there's plenty of action within the glorious panorama of rural Lombardy. Nicole Burgess resides at Palladio's famous Villa Capra, also known as "La Rotonda," and the expansive views of the countryside and close-ups of its front entrance are breathtaking. Other scenes take place in the second story loggia of the Basilica Palladiana, used here as a public building, with long shots showing the famous repeating arches. Nicole's opera performance at the Roman arena in Verona is unforgettable, both for Morse's reactions to her voice and for the views of the arena itself. Not the greatest Morse episode from the standpoint of a unified plot, it is certainly one of the best in terms of scenery and music. n Mary Whipple
A Trip to Italy
William J. Thor | Vero Beach | 02/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This entry has many features going for it: beautiful scenery, opera excerpts from Rigoletto and Turandot, regional Northern Italian area atmosphere in Vicenza and Verona, customs and language of the locals, along with a very relaxed Morse and Lewis. These features provide enough color to pull the rating for this weak plot up to three stars. There are many characters, (too many?) who seem to run together making the plot difficult to follow and giving the viewer a convoluted take on the whole affair, until the last fifteen minutes when all falls into place. I was looking forward to the trip to Italy but was rather disappointed. There are few Morse cases that do not come up to par, unfortunately this is one of them."
Morse at his best
Richard B. Schwartz | Columbia, Missouri USA | 07/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Morse is at his best under three conditions: when he has a chance to utilize his education; when he becomes emotionally involved with women whose actions affect the case and when his interactions with Lewis reveal the synergy between them and the respect and affection which undergird it. In this case, Morse and Lewis are in Vicenza, Italy, investigating the death of a woman who has been participating in a self-help program run by an Englishman previously arrested by Morse. The con artist/guru is played by the superb Michael Kitchen, who attempts to outsmart and badger Morse (never a good idea). The location shots are excellent, particularly the scenes in a roman amphitheatre converted for use as an opera house. As the soprano sings and the tears moisten Morse's eyes and cheeks, we're in Morse heaven. The plot is complex, the dialogue poignant, the direction expert. Check it out."