Sweet Tooth for Murder on Endeavour

DATELINE: PBS Masterpiece Mystery

evans Shaun Endeavours

With only a handful of episodes this season, Endeavour is making the most of its short-sighted insights. This year it returns to its four episode arc of murderous delight.

There is a great focus on the personal lives of the characters for this showing: Bright (Anton Lesser) has a marriage falling apart because his wife is sick; Thursday (Roger Allam) has a wife sick of him. And, as for Morse (Shaun Evans), he continues to look for love in all the wrong places. For a great detective, he seems to miss the obvious.

James Bradshaw’s coroner is busier than ever—and has more personal connections to Endeavour and Bright, with an easy integration of personal and professional conversations.

Morse is looking for a rental detached home in a charming Oxford village that is rife with murder, hate letters, and the big business—a candy factory with rich and powerful victims.

The episode also starts off with a fox hunt that seems almost a throwback to the 1960s British movie, Tom Jones. There’s the rub.

Red herrings are always thrown about, but the show remains clever beyond everything else that is contemporary TV detective series. American shows are childish, and this one is cerebral.

We see dark times ahead for Endeavour as the season wraps: even his trusted Thursday mentor is not to be trusted. Jim Strange (Sean Rigby), another long-time colleague/friend, warns him off.

This magnificent series will be off too for a year with all too few brilliant cases.

 

Moon Landing for Endeavour

DATELINE: Aging Badly.

aging badly Allam & Evans.

Sixth season, episode 2, takes place at the time of the Apollo Moon landing. So, it is only natural that the murder victim at Oxford is an astrophysicist. Endeavour is more earthbound than the astronauts in July, 1969.

Morse is an exhibits officer who routinely oversteps his bounds. His new superior sees him as a condescending twit, and he may be right. Morse’s friend, Jim Strange, notes that the brilliant detective has not lost his heavy-handed social skills.

This episode is directed by star Shaun Evans.

Thursday (Allam) keeps reminding him that they are part of a bureaucratic system that follows chain-of-command, but Endeavour is the rebel within the system.

While astronauts make giant leaps for mankind on the Moon, back on Earth there are small steps toward crime solving by hard-working detectives.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about the historical inaccuracy of the series is that the days when cops were despised by youth movement types, you have them with more virtue and dedication than Joe Friday ever showed.

As a mystery show, Endeavour always puts together disparate elements into a stew that may be overly complicated. Punch and Judy has now reached marionette TV space shows of 1969, where jealousy and spousal swapping are the hot topics of the day—and motive for murders.

The regulars (Roger Allam, Anton Lesser) and others recognize now how good they had it in the previous five seasons. Now, they are reduced to working under lesser talents while bigger events overwhelm the world.

Though this series is not as elegant or finely tuned as an Agatha Christie story, you may find it convoluted on the side of intellectualism. That’s a rare problem in this age of unusual idiocy in TV shows, detective programs, and characters in general.

 

 

 

 

 

Endeavour S4 Finale

DATELINE:  PBS Masterpiece

Shaun

 

Each season of Endeavour, the continuing prequel saga of Detective Morse, now in reverse order, has one superb episode that towers over the other excellent mysteries. The finale of S4 is top-drawer.

Endeavour is a prequel, of course, taking John Thaw’s original Morse back to the 1960s when he was a young investigator. The latest called “Harvest” starts with a 1962 murder that he opens as a cold case in 1967.

As usual, Roger Allam and Anton Lesser are around as Morse’s supportive superior officers.

In many ways this is the most modern episode so far: it deals with the red herring of an atomic energy plant emitting radiation. The tie to the murder of an Oxford botanist muddies the waters in a small town near the nuclear plant. Cleverly planted clues abound.

As a tarot card relates during the investigation, Endeavour (Shaun Evans) is facing “death,” in some form. He scoffs as that is his line of work, and the other insight is that he is unlucky in love. Yes, we’ve seen plenty of that over the four seasons.

This one hinges on autumnal equinox, which Morse notes is a scientific time, though cultists and local Stonehenge followers seem particularly in a state of high anxiety.

Entwined with the case, we have Morse’s complicated relationship with his superior’s daughter, which seemingly comes to a head. Alas, more information must await S5, which promises more episodes as this cast and storyline sharpens. We await more murders.

Lazaretto on Endeavour

 DATELINE: The Only Good Detectives are British

SE   Shaun Evans, Heartthrob

The third entry in this Endeavour S4 series takes superstition and murder to a hospital ward at Cowley General. It seems Bed #10 has suffered an inordinate number of deaths over the past six months.

When Superintendent Bright takes ill, he is transferred to the same ward where the mystery becomes unsettling to Morse (Shaun Evans) and the new acting Superintendent, Thursday (Roger Allam).

The 1960s are only slightly more evident in this episode, owing to the cars and less technological medical situations. As for the mystery, it is always clever to solve and filled with red herrings.

Set in Oxford, the cerebral capital of education seems rife with crime.

The usual suspects turn up, but it’s the usual members of the police investigation that always have a turn to remember. It’s a marvelous supporting cast, especially James Bradshaw as the creepy coroner who seems always to enlighten Morse with a witty clue.

Morse is known for his brainy solutions that even his Superintendent (Anton Lesser) has come to respect him.

Shaun Evans provides a boyish, though aging boy, who remains catnip to women. Indeed, the subplot of the series remains the bodies of women who have thrown themselves at him, including DI Thursday’s daughter who has left town because of Morse (more or less) as women continue to swoon over him.

Roger Allam as Thursday is not a saintly mentor and is not above using his contacts in the criminal world, nor showing a little tough love when he roughs them up. Beneath the barnacles, he is still a shrewd detective and a perfect foil for Endeavour.

The arc of the season is short, only four episodes, with one remaining, but already the show is renewed for a fifth season with a promised increase in the murder rate to allow for more mystery movies.

Thank heavens for good British detectives.