Beer and in-jokes

Phil: I’m not one for DVD box-sets. Most of the time, once I’ve seen a series, I’m not in a hurry to see it all over again. Maybe if you’ve got all thirty thousand episodes of Friends on disk then you can watch one without remembering the plot, but for most, the pleasure of new discovery is gone and I’d rather see something new. I’m the same with films, the collection is in single figures with the rest from Lovefilm for a couple of watches and then back in the post.

The exception to the rule is Inspector Morse. I might know whodunnit every time now, but the pacing of the plot, this was the first UK drama series to try two-hour episodes, and sheer quality of the filming makes me happy to watch them repeatedly. OK, so I tend to do other things while “watching” telly but you get the idea. Thus when ITV decided to flog the deceased equine again for a one-off prequel called “Endeavor”, I made an effort to watch it.

My opinion – very good – I worked out the murderer about three-quarters of the way through but that isn’t a problem, in fact it kept me watching to see if I was right.

The biggest fault was the inclusion of too may nods toward the original series. The Jaguar car I can deal with. In the period, most Police forces used them so the detail is correct. Only an anorak would comment that he seemed to be using the hand brake on the wrong side, so I won’t. However, we had opera, drinking (I’m coming back to this in a minute), workaholism, squeamishness with blood, problems with women, crimes in Jerico (scene of the very first Morse episode) as well as many other previous (future ?) locations, plus many others even I didn’t spot.

All of these must have been so tempting to the writer. After all, it’s part of the Morse cannon so we want to have lots for the fans to spot don’t we ? Personally, no, but I understand the temptation.

Despite being unpublished and therefore, sans readers, we are trying to work out how to deal with Book 1 in Book 2. Can we refer to anything in the first story ? Should we for those fans who have been with us from the beginning ? Obviously we have to assume that most people are reading us for the first time but does the odd in-joke hurt ? Is it in fact a good thing, a kind of thank you ?

Anyway, while you ponder this, back to the beer.

In the TV series, Morse is an alcoholic. The illness kills him in the end but long before this, it has come to partly define his character. Thinking is done in pubs with good beer. Someone therefore thought that it would be really clever for young Morse to be teetotal. What a clever wheeze !

The clued up immediately spot problems – in those days you simply didn’t get on in the Police force if you didn’t drink. I used to work for an ex-chief constable who described how on the CID course there was a role-call at 2am in the bar and if anyone had sloped off to bed, they were dragged back for more refreshment. Even 20 years ago, this was the case according to at least one person I knew. Thus, I can’t see Morse getting away without comment at the very least and being sent to Coventry at worst.

Worse, when he finally does drink, the makers get it wrong. The scene is just after he has fainted at the sight of a post-mortem. His boss takes him to a pub and orders two beers. Morse protests that he doesn’t drink but is told to “get it down you”. Which he does.

Now, I like beer but will happily admit that it is an acquired taste. At first, the stuff is horrible and bitter. It’s why da kidz drink alcopops, they are like soft drinks which taste lovely. Morse, as a non-drinker would have at best sipped timidly at his drink. Instead he gets through half a pint in two swigs. Considering it appears to be a pretty heavy porter beer, hardly a light pint for the delicate palette, this is good going or just wrong. Needless to say, he is immediately on the beer for the rest of the episode. From TT to AA in twenty seconds.

What’s annoying is that there was no need for this. Just let the man drink fron the outset and stop being “clever”. An in-joke too far methinks.


Filed under Phil, Writing

2 responses to “Beer and in-jokes

  1. Missed that one. I reread all the Morse books last year as my wife had bought a complete box set thinking it was the complete series on video!
    I think you can have a few references back to the first book but the second has to stand alone. I’ve just read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and am embarking on the second which has a couple of references to the first at the start. Also have the third, all being purchased in charity shops for a total of £3!

  2. Andy in Germany

    If you read Terry Pratchett you’ll notice that often he’ll allow an in joke in, and then have a fuller explanation afterwards, so regular readers can can enjoy being ‘in’ then everyone is brought into the group.

    I don’t like beer: it’s nice to hear someone who does admit that it’s not wonderful from first sip.

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