Catching Up on Endeavour

DATELINE:  Better Late Prequel

shaun evans Shaun Evans

The only episode of the British detective series Endeavour we have missed until now was the “Pilot” (so-called), the opening episode that set the tone and introduced most of the key characters back in 2012.

Of course, fans of PBS mystery series know that Endeavour is a prequel of sorts to the popular detective show Morse (starring John Thaw) as a non-conformist police detective in the Oxford academic community.

Shaun Evans is the whelp twenty years earlier—showing all the qualities of the curmudgeon detective decades later. Making the show the Zeitgeist of the 1960s in England is not easy, largely ignoring the Beatles.

Roger Allam quickly inserts himself as the lead detective Fred Thursday who takes young Endeavour under his wing after seeing some impressive, if not scholarly, detective insights.

Some of our favorites show up in their young and younger incarnation—including Abigail Thaw as the hard-driven newspaper editor who is Endeavour’s resource and James Bradshaw as the unorthodox medical examiner Max. Each provides delightful scenes in the series.

Evans manages to carry it off as the boyish Oxfordian gone copper. He is not well-to-do as the stereotype accepted by others follows him. He is, in fact, working class with exceptional knowledge and artistic appreciation. It surely puts him out of place in both worlds of town and gown at Oxford.

The opening episode has Morse involved with a charming opera singer, wife of a don, played by Flora Montgomery. Endeavour starts to see dark clues of a child sex ring of young girls and high-ranking officials, which may drive him from the police force before his career truly starts.

We were delighted with performances from Harry Kershaw and Patrick Malahide as suspects in murder. It’s just high-brow enough to delight with its intelligence and charm. The only true reference to John Thaw occurs when Evans looks into the rear-view mirror to see Thaw’s eyes in 25 years.