Ah, Morse. Was there ever a fictional television character more deserving of his very own tribute crossword puzzle?
Intellectual, curmudgeonly, devoted in equal parts to opera, his classic maroon Jaguar, beer, and crosswords, the chief inspector of the Thames Valley was brilliantly portrayed (or should I say "inhabited"?) by the fabulous John Thaw.
And he was aided and abetted in all his detective work by genial Sgt. Lewis—equally skillfully played by the great Kevin Whately.
The scene is usually Oxford. The crime is murder. The suspects range from dons to divas.
The result is always fascinating. And now, without further ado, here are some snippets to further enhance your Morse enjoyment.
- An explanation of the title: “Dot Dash” alludes to the Morse Code. Fans of the show know that the title music is wonderfully punctuated by staccato notes that spell out M O R S E.
- 4-Across: Here is Floria TOSCA—as portrayed by the divine Angela Gheorghiu—singing the famous aria "Vissi d'arte." Bravo, Puccini!
- 32-Across: The inimitable KEVIN_WHATELY. He currently stars in his own PBS spinoff/sequel Inspector Lewis.
- 45-Across: A brief summary of the very dark REEVE's Tale by Chaucer.
- 55-Across: An informative take on the life of JOHN_THAW, the soul of Inspector Morse—and this puzzle.
- 62-Across: Who else but Donna Summer could do the honors to DISCO? (plus, notice the classical crossword misdirection)
- 64-Across: Find out the meaning of TIFFIN.
- 79-Across: Cool performance clips explaining why the spot in Macbeth is so DAMNED.
- 85-Across: Here's the history of the "forbidden" fragrance TABU.
- 91-Across: Watch Dave STEIB get robbed out of two no-hitters. Ouch.
- 96-Across: Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim knows music and crossword puzzles. Here's his take on the latter.
- 1-Down: The answer is PYRE, as explained here.
- 4-Down: Charlene TILTON raises the temperature in a steamy swim scene from "Dallas" right here.
- 11-Down: IDEAL is the toy company that made the famous Betsy Wetsy and Rubik's cube, thereby bringing joy to girls and boys of all ages.
- 12-Down: Think Karl MARX is buried in the Kremlin? Guess again.
- 13-Down: This was big news in the 70s. Read how the SLA grabbed Miss Hearst.
- 22-Down: A captivating interview with the guy who started it all. COLIN Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse and company. He's wonderful. Watch this.
- 31-Down: The answer is MAX and the link explains all of the Morse trivia. It lists the entire cast—including Peter Woodthorpe as Max.
- 32-Down: A short bio of Vietnam vet and activist Ron KOVIC.
- 33-Down: Poor Lady EDITH. Watch her skulk around Downton Abbey here.
- 34-Down: Morse worships VERDI. Click here for the eternal aria from Rigoletto done by the master, Pavarotti. Fantastico!
- 37-Down: A short expliqué of that debonair sleuth Lord PETER WIMSEY. Like Morse, he went to Oxford. But unlike Morse, he graduated. With honours.
- 66-Down: The literary master of wordplay, Vladimir Nabokov, named his novel ADA. Click here to learn why.
- 72-Down: The answer is DIVA. When I think "diva," I think "Callas." Who else? Enjoy.
- 80-Down: A snippet of Japanese NOH play. Yes.
- 82-Down: Two great actors being ABSURD in Ionesco's tour de force, Rhinoceros.
- 87-Down: "In fernem land" is a majestic ARIA heroically sung by Lohengrin. If you want to catch up on the plot of Wagner's opera, please see Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade. Now listen to Placido Domingo soar.
- 94-Down: The clue is BEER. Morse's staff of life. This clip is from the very last episode of the show. Nice closure, I think. Hail and farewell, Morse. And John Thaw. And thank you.
Bonus: Longtime fans of Morse know that he never revealed his first name. Whenever directly asked, our Inspector would shyly but firmly say, "It's Morse. Just Morse." It wasn’t until the prequel series, that our patience was rewarded. His first name—and name of the series—was, in fact, ENDEAVOUR.
Final words from GB re-Morse: The grid for this puzzle was constructed without ever having read any of the Colin Dexter books, nor watched any of the TV shows. I was pleased to be able to get ELBA in at 93-Down, since this famous island is evocative of Ellen's blog. It was quite tricky to figure out how to get across ENDEAVOUR and we kicked around numerous scenarios before settling on something fairly straightforward.