The writing of a "prequel" usually makes great play with what we already know about the leading characters, and this early case of the future Inspector Morse drops lots of details to make old Morse fans smile. The young Detective Constable eyes a maroon Jaguar keenly, discovers a taste for real ale (his abandonment of abstinence in the course of the episode is the first hint that he's beginning to lose his up-tight reserve) and is dangerously entranced by a former opera singer. We learn what we always guessed from the John Thaw shows, that Morse's love of music stems from its providing solace for him during a lonely and drab childhood. We also meet a young academic , Alexander Reece, who, as Sir Alexander, would reappear in Morse's life (and be murdered) in the 1989 episode, "The Last Enemy", where he was played by Barry Foster. All these links are interesting to long-term Morse fans, but writer Russell Lewis also can't resist the schoolboy in-jokes that he introduced into his episodes for "Lewis" - Morse lodges at a grim boarding-house, where he is told that he has a room previously occupied by a Mr. Bleaney (the suicidal eponym of a Philip Larkin poem), and that the other two current guests, whom we never see, are a Mr. Goldberg and a Mr. McCann - the cross-talking hit-men of Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party". Oh, dear. Still, the mystery is quite interesting, the period detail is handled sparingly (just one reference by a cabinet minister to "Harold" and a Secret Service type to "Cliveden") and the actors are good.
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