No the wonder church attendences are falling!
Junglies | Morrisville, NC United States | 03/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Morse travels out of the city of Oxford into it's suburbs to try to track down the murderer of a church warden inside the church. During the course of his enquiries he becomes attached to the part-time cleaner, Ruth Rawlinson, not realising at the time of her key role in the mystery.This is a curious perspective on Morse. At the church he seems smitten by Ruth at first glance and in a way the episode is about Morse persuing Ruth until he apparently succeeds only to be thwarted.Service of all the Dead has all of the trappings of Colin Dexter's Oxford - the central role of ritual, social class, and the little details which make these shows so good - in this case the idea that there could be tramps in Oxford ( a recurring theme), the cycle riding middle classes, volunteerrism and carers. All good ingredients.This particular drama is one of the most gruesome with six deaths all together. Also novel is the fact that the opening scene is found to be a set up. A lot of the death's seem to be red herrings too, to throw us off the scent.There is a particulary sensitive scene which has some relevance to contemporary events in a different church where Morse perceives the vicar as a paedophile. Later on the child in question is found murdered although the exhumation of the body is not filmed.Service of all the Dead is a gripping thriller replete with issues of blackmail, infidelity, revenge etc. Throughout it all Morse holds true to his feelings for Ruth and, despite the revelation that she loved someone else, he offers her a helping hand which, if discovered, could cost him his livelihood and his liberty.As one of the characters puts it, an alpha."
An Empathetic Morse
William J. Thor | Vero Beach | 08/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This entry opens at a high mass, offered at a country church, with thirteen in attendance - one of which is killed during the service. The Vicar informs Morse that this was not an ordinary mass, but rather a special saint's feast day, (Saint Augustine,) which accounts for the small attendance, as opposed to a normal daily mass. From Max's pathology report Morse discovers the victim was killed by several different means. And thus our story's setting is in place and the mystery ready for the solving. Five more bodies require Morse's attention as does the Vicar, church warden, organist, custodian, as well as the Vicar's brother. We learn that Morse does not belong in the bell tower as he suffers from acrophobia. Along the way we have a possible pedophile, blackmail, adultery, and revenge. Morse's attention to detail reveals a most important clue i.e. identifying two Saint Augustines and their not having feast days recently. There is much more including a romance between Morse and the custodian, as well as a surprising twist as we reach the end. The empathy of Morse also arrives at the end. Not much of Morse's idiosyncrasies but an excellent plot to carry the tale to five stars."
"Give me chastity and continence, oh, Lord, but not yet."
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the more complex plots in the Morse mysteries, this episode is also one of the bloodiest, with six deaths, including that of a child. The church warden at St. Oswald's Church, the first to be murdered, was deeply in debt, though he had substantial cash with him at his death, and he is suspected of robbing the church collections. The priest may have a secret, kinky past, and the church organist has been having a torrid affair with the church warden's wife. Other complications involve the twin brother of the priest, a new love interest for Morse, a tramp who has been loitering in the church, a character with a secret love life, and the celebration of a Mass for St. Augustine which is not part of the church calendar.
Morse is attracted to Ruth Rawlinson, who takes care of the church and provides him with information, when she is not working or taking care of her mother. Two passionate kisses, rare in the series and initiated by Morse, suggest a romance in the offing. We see dramatically that Morse suffers terribly from acrophobia during his scenes in the church belltower. John Thaw (Morse) and Kevin Whately (his assistant Lewis) are as outstanding as ever in their roles, and one wishes that the plot had given them a better vehicle for their talents this time out.
Though the plot can be followed without much difficulty for most of the episode, the ending presents a jumble of new revelations in very short order and solves the mysteries in totally unexpected ways, leaving the viewer blinking in disbelief. The brilliant cinematography by Clive Tickner, who did seven of the Morse series, makes the whole episode worth watching, however, despite the fact that some of the most startling scenes involve close-ups of bloody bodies. Tickner uses color in ways that most cinematographers do not. He sets off a golden crucifix with soft green and red shadows, and shows colorful reflections in the priest's glasses during a scene that is otherwise mostly black and white, for example. Reflections in windows show indoor and outdoor scenes simultaneously, and shots from odd angles provide visual excitement.
Though this is not the best of the series, plot-wise, it does contain the usual fine acting by Thaw and Whately and an outstanding supporting cast, especially Angela Morant as Ruth. Combine all that with some of the best cinematography in the entire series, and this is an episode well worth watching. n Mary Whipple