ABOUT THE SHOW
Endeavor is an ongoing British television series about young detective Endeavor Morse who is taken under the wing of his superior DI Fred Thursday as they investigate crime for the City Police of Oxford in the 1960’s.
For British detective series fans, this is an origin story for the long running series Inspector Morse which featured Morse as the senior officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Oxford Police. But how did this irascible, classical music and literature lover, beer swilling, unrequited romantic become the head investigator and the difficult yet brilliant character Inspector Morse?
In Endeavor, we see hints to Morse’s personal background as well as his early years with the Oxford Police. He is not quite socially awkward, but his high brow interests, extreme intelligence, lack of personal ambition and unwillingness to pretend personal and professional interest where he has none, does make him somewhat of an outsider and a loner, until Detective Inspector Thursday decides he has promise and becomes his mentor, friend and father figure.
Each season is three episodes long and each episode runs for ninety minutes featuring a crime that Morse, Thursday, Police Superintendent Reginald Bright and other detectives must solve, while also advancing the personal stories of both Morse and Thursday.
The roles of Morse and Thursday are perfectly cast in my opinion with veteran actor Roger Allam playing Thursday and Shaun Evans in the role of Morse. Allam lends dignity, gravity and heart to his role, subtly showing the challenges of working long term in a field which can leave one jaded, cynical and even worn down while also steering Morse through those same pitfalls and portraying a loving husband and father to his family.
Evans portrayal of Morse is a revelation. Morse is a man with a difficult personal past who after a short time in the police force is already becoming disillusioned. Yet Evans youthful and innocent face provide a contrast to these challenges as well as to his sophisticated personal interests.
The relationship between the two is really the salvation of both and it is always a bright spot in each episode filled with dark criminal activity to see their trust, respect and dependence on each other grow. Although Morse’s analytical mind is always a key component in solving the crimes, unlike some detective series he realistically makes mistakes at times in interpreting the evidence, and it is the patience and belief in him by DI Thursday which always leads to the solving of each case.
Another highlight of the series is it’s setting in 1960’s Oxford. Fans of the BBC drama Grantchester will recognize and appreciate many familiar scenes. The historical feeling of the sixties combined with the graceful architecture in Oxford is almost a secondary character in this show. The camera certainly loves this familiar “face” although Endeavor also takes us into the grittier side of the city as well.
I must also comment on the music score composed by Barrington Pheloung who also composed the music for Inspector Morse and it’s sequel Inspector Lewis. Can I just say that it is brilliant? Each episode begins with music introducing various components of the crime. As the music is classical in nature it provides a unique and beautiful contrast to the potentially criminal activity the viewer sees. Each episode always ends with the Endeavor theme which has an uplifting, victorious sound and is a nice end cap to the solving of the crime.
The first three seasons of Endeavor are currently available for streaming on Amazon. The crime scenes are not overly graphic and yet occasionally deal with very dark subject matter. But if you love British television series (Grantchester in particular), and/or detective dramas, this is one I would highly recommend.