DATELINE: Morse in Swinging Sixties
Doing a period murder mystery set in the Swinging Sixties is not easy, but Endeavour makes it pop culture time. So much can be a tad off, like scruff on the band members which actually came along a few years later.
The episode recreates one of those “Hullaballoo” style dance numbers with garish colors and plastic slick clothes to open the proceedings.
Inspector Morse (Shaun Evans) is thrust into the turn of the musical screw when rock became the season of flower children. He must investigate the band called Wildwood, which resembles so many of those one-hit wonders in the era when LSD became the tripping drug of choice.
We certainly recall Jackie Gleason leading a crusade against the smut accusations against the Doors, and something akin parallels the latest episode when a young man may be sexually involved with a band member, giving us an early exponent of the groupie mentality. Prudish condemnation arrives from the older generation.
Morse in his blue suit is more a child of the 1950s as police detective—as his boss Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) fully epitomizes the gruff professional Scotland Yard type we have grown to expect.
The usual suspects are all present, but veiled appropriately from quick solutions to the crimes: the greedy business manager of the group, the female hangers-on of the band, an moralist crusader, and in-fighting boy band members.
Morse prefers Wagnerian opera to rock, but still manages to be sucked in by every woman who bats her lashes at him. It seems far more credible when one of the rock group’s sensitive song-writers flirts with him.
Don’t be fooled. A bad acid trip is not far off and could untrack the brilliant detective in another clever, fascinating murder mystery in the series.
If you have not discovered Endeavour, you have three full seasons to savor.