Endeavour, ITV1

Pitch-perfect.  There.  It’s not often I start with a conclusion.

It would have been so easy to miss this one.  It could be perceived as mining the very last minute nuggets out of a successful franchise.  Lewis was OK, but I never took to it as I did Morse.  It was hard to imagine and accept Lewis – the sort of ‘thick’ one in Morse – as promoted and in charge.  Even maturity and some bitter life experiences could not really turn him into ‘canny’ and the brightest could it?  And so we were now promised young Morse, the ‘making of’ Morse, if you will.  But, as I say, it was pitch-perfect.

The programme opened with a missing teenage schoolgirl in Oxford.  Additional police help is drafted in for the search and Detective Constable Endeavour Morse is one of those delivered by bus and taking up lodgings in the city.  Shortly after, a student is found dead: an apparent suicide.  Endeavour’s keen observational skills take his investigation off on a tangent when it comes to the girl and this does not impress his new colleagues.  Until her body is discovered…

The story was beautifully scripted, acted and presented, and felt true to its era.  Barrington Pheloung’s accompaniment was almost, but not quite, the Morse theme, making it so reminiscent and evocative of the same character.

Attention to detail for the period was evident.

Endeavour came across as the young man he surely would have been: one with a backbone that sought truth and justice at all costs; one with an eye for the ladies but undergoing his first experiences of thwarting; one who heard and saw the beauty in music and those who delivered it.

Various tributes were discreet, but in force.  John Thaw’s daughter Abigail played a character who thought she’d seen Endeavour before, but when countered, said ‘… perhaps in another life?’  Creator of Endeavour Morse, Colin Dexter, had another of his Hitchcockian cameos in the programme.  The plot employed crossword compilation in its machinations, something Dexter knows a lot about as an avid crossword compiler in addition to writing his Morse novels.

Shaun Evans proved perfect as Endeavour.  The exuberance of youth was evident, but in the delivery of many lines he sounded like the later Thaw’s Morse, albeit not as an intended copy at all.  It all felt so natural.  In the role of the boss who discovers and nurtures him, Roger Allam’s Detective Inspector Fred Thursday was a beauty.  If the Morse we learned to love and trust could recommend anyone, it would be him.

This was classic Morse, if earlier Morse.  For writer Russell Lewis and the production team it is a triumph.  And it does beg a series.

If you missed it, catch up on ITV player now.

13 thoughts on “Endeavour, ITV1

  1. Harriet Smart

    I loved it too. I thought Shaun Evans was charismatic -and utterly convincing, I wouldn’t have been able to push him away for one! The whole police world of the period was beautifully and accurately evoked – no token women constables to provide romantic interest for example (which would have been an easy trap to fall into). In fact the general period detail was terrific – those clothes shops especially!
    It is incredibly hard to get these things right, but it succeeded because they did not mess with the original Morse format – slow, stately, with lashing of crosswords, classical music, beautiful houses and and tweedy dons.The pace was particularly enjoyable and I loved the arrest at the end. I am definitely left wanting more – I want to see how Inspector Thursday develops for example. Also could the Michael Caine Special Branch Clone and Patrick Malahide have their own series as well? That was awesome!

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      Harriet, the ‘Clone’ is an actor called John Light who was recently in an episode of DCI Banks (as the criminal).
      I agree with everything you’ve said. That shop took me back some years. Early 1970s, shopping for new grammar school uniform: the ‘blouses’ were held in wall shelves/draws just like those.

  2. Flighty

    I agree with all you say. I’d watched the first and last episodes of Morse, and a couple of Lewis, during the previous week, and what is notable is the number of good actors that have appeared in all of them.
    Regarding Endeavour I liked the last bit where young Morse looked in the Jag’s rear view mirror to see himself as a much older Morse.

  3. Norman

    Just finished watching the end and I agree it was superb.
    It reminded me what a different world we lived in back in 1965 [the road fund licence on the Jag] as all the props seemed so accurate. It was all very clever with the music, crosswords, cars and telephones, and above all Shaun Evans succeeded in the virtually impossible task of pre-quelling a much loved John Thaw as Morse.
    ITV more Endeavour please.

  4. evahudson

    Ooh – it was easy to miss. I missed it! Do you happen to know if ITV are planning to repeat it anytime soon? ITV Player isn’t the best way to view such a highly-rated drama – I think it might spoil the experience…

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      There is a very good chance apparently. A Radio Times survey result had 97% asking for a series and the ratings were good. Fingers crossed.

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