"Happy Families" marked my first exposure to Inspector Morse. While the mystery is nothing to write home about (a traditional sordid family drama among the English upper crust), the acting was so strong that it elevated a pretty conventional drama.
In particular, John Thaw was amazing as Morse. I had heard praises of his portrayal and having seen a sample of it for myself I can understand why he earned such acclaim for the role. Morse is smug, condescending, a real bastard when you think about. Yet Thaw makes him so real and so relatable, we end up rooting for the inspector.
At times, the mystery takes a backseat to the trials and tribulations Morse goes through with the tabloid press. As Morse faces a killer who continues to claim victims right under the nose of the police, he must also deal with an arrogant reporter who has made it his mission to humiliate Morse off the case. The idea of an intellectual being portrayed as aloof is sadly more and more common, which makes the ending so much more satisfying, as Morse triumphantly declares that he found the solution to the case in a book.
I can't wait to watch more "Morse" and see more of John Thaw's incredible performance in the title role.