sun 16/06/2024

Endeavour, Series 1, ITV | reviews, news & interviews

Endeavour, Series 1, ITV

Endeavour, Series 1, ITV

Lewis having retired, a skinny young Morse rises again

Shaun Evans and Roger Allam in 'Endeavour'

Where will it end? Inspector Morse keeled over all the way back in the year 2000. Then the faintly unimaginable happened. Morse’s plodding sidekick Lewis got a promotion and started solving Oxford’s apparently inexhaustible supply of murders himself. When Lewis retired this January, the logical choice would have been to hand the baton on his lanky junior.  Hathaway sounds like a series, doesn't it?

But no, ITV have long been hatching other plans for the brand that keeps on printing money.

A year ago we were spirited back in time to look in on the junior Morse as he made his first uncertain babysteps as a gumshoe. The nation, given the option, chose not to turn its nose up, and here we are welcoming Endeavour, as no one is calling him, back for a series. Shaun Evans’s likeness to John Thaw is superficially satisfactory. The growl of the grumpy old silverback, and the look of withering scorn that could melt a hole in a suspect’s alibi, are not yet in place. Instead we have a young pup with likeable cheekbones and a cleverclogs’ scent for occluded clues.

You don’t need to be a detective to uncover evidence of the old comforts

Not having passed his police exams, Detective Constable Morse (that junior rank isn’t tripping off the tongue yet) is seen by jealous colleagues to be attempting to run before he can walk. His new boss takes considerable umbrage, and it’s with no subtle irony that scriptwriter Russell Lewis has called this new character Chief Superintendant Bright. Clue: he’s not the shiniest button in the sewing box. (What he is is another of Anton Lesser’s stuffed shirts.) The job of Morse’s immediate superior Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam giving it lashings of world-weariness) is to shield his protégé from the barbarians back at the nick. (Pictured below, Allam, Lesser and Evans plus plods)

The story – this episode was called “Girl” – began with a young female corpse, swiftly followed to the morgue by her GP, whose willowy young wife seemed less perturbed by the bullet through his brain than his epileptic sister-in-law. Morse was soon embroiled in well-to-do family politics, also involving their father (Jonathan Hyde, very smooth) as an eminent if wildly implausible physics prof who had something to do with the creation of the A-bomb. Lob in a northern undergrad, a post office boy and Jonathan Guy Lewis’s fruity padre, and there were suspects from right across the parallel world that is Morse's Oxford.

Is Endeavour vintage Morse? Not exactly. But you hardly need to be a detective to uncover evidence of the old comforts. It doesn't really matter that we've been spirited back in time, because Inspector Morse never felt contemporary anyway. Meanwhile Barrington Pheloung’s music is as cosy as old slippers these days. For visuals, wide shots not being an option, close-ups of gargoyles and spires fill in as relics from an older Oxford before the coffee multinationals moved in. Oh, and in the opening sequence everyone looked fishy and you hadn’t a clue what was going on. All very much as you were.

The clue that helped identify the murderer came unknowingly out of the mouth of a copper when Morse trespassed back onto the case DI Thursday had thrown him off for being too clever by half. “If he finds you here," warned the constable, "he’ll be in his bloody element.” The words make no sense, but the periodic table needed to be invoked. So there.

When Endeavour’s done its run, they can do a series called Thursday. And run it on Sunday.

Jasper Rees on Twitter

In the opening sequence everyone looked fishy and you hadn’t a clue what was going on. All very much as you were


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Last nights' episode was excellent but for one HUGE blooper ! Digitalis is from the Foxglove, NOT Deadly Nightshade ! Whew, glad he's not my GP !

And a nod to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Is mother proud of Little Boy today?

Roger Allam & his wonderfully sonorous voice alone are worth the price of admission. I could listen to that man talk all evening.

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