Endeavour’s Seventh: Crime Goes On!

DATELINE: Night at the Opera

 Shaun Evans, not Groucho.

To kick off the seventh season of egghead murder mystery, Endeavour once again turns to star hotshot, Shaun Evans, to direct the first episode of Endeavour.

He is even better the second time around: with aplomb when it comes to set-ups, color, and the new modern police office settings. He seems to have wasted time filming in Venice for a few scenes that could have been faked without much notice in a studio. Producers even created an opera for the clueless.

The series has grown darker, starting with Endeavour’s heavy narrative opening about the comedy and tragedy he is about to face. Even his boss, Thursday, is now fed up with grisly killings and his humor is turning sour while Morse goes on vacation to Venice.

The episode is over-wroughtly titled “Oracle” when “Psychic” would have done well.

It’s 1970 now, and a waitress at the New Year’s bash is killed walking home from work. It is the heavy-handed start of women’s equal rights—and it is played historically nasty. Most men of the era saw it as a fad and did not take it seriously. If you use this show as history, you see something far more sinister.

Crime goes on, even at Oxford’s new fangled psychic research center where remote viewing experiments are in their infancy.

The red herrings, as usual, pile up in this show, which now have caught Roger Allam’s Thursday short-tempered.

Endeavour (Evans) remains the kiss of death, or so we suspect, as he succumbs to an operatic affair in Venice that is over before vacation ends.

There are a few intrigues that may trip you up: an old former classmate, a millionaire bon vivant seems gay and has an interest in Endeavour, and who could blame him? However, it is the petty jealousy of fellow detective Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) that is most amusing.

Psychic research is given a once-over effectively here and respectfully. If you don’t have it, you can’t fake it—and the ending is going to be a surprise for most.

The series is now in serial form, not self-contained mystery. The three-parts will meld into one.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Returns for a Sixth Season

DATELINE:  Wonderland of 60s Crime

'stache Shaun in Sixties Mode!

“Pylon” is the title for a dandy reboot of the great youngish detective Endeavour, transferred out of his element to the world of uniformed cop. PBS has conscripted to show a miniseries of murder again this summer. They are the best of British crime imported to give us a throwback to the Swinging Sixties.

With Morse demoted from Oxford to red brick schoolhouse, you know a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s a misuse of genius to have Shakespeare write advertising jingles, but that’s what has happened to the operatic fantatic played by Shaun Evans, now in mustache mode.

He’s not alone: all his kindred spirits are also out of sorts. Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) has been reduced to a secondary role under a twit. No one has been cast in a proper role in the new season, set in summer of 1969.

What have we as issues? Nothing short of a smorgasbord of current trendy crimes:  pornography, child abuse, murder (as always), genetic criminal traits, wrongful death penalty, falsified police evidence, heroin addiction, police brutality, and on and on.

Into this mix, Morse is overstepping his bounds as a cop on the beat in a small backwater, using his skills to uncover clues that range from Lewis Carroll to Black Beauty. Clever smarty-pants Morse does put lesser police detectives to shame—and they pull rank often.

A uniform isn’t paid to think, and the ones paid to think are thoughtless imbeciles.

Oh, the equestrian angle is a throwaway of red herrings. We are glad to find Endeavour back in force on the force.

 

 

 

Endeavour 5.1 Returns to Egghead Crime

DATELINE: Thinkers Apply

 Shaun Evans Morse’s Code

Young Morse, now a detective sergeant at the Oxford, England, constabulary, returns for a fifth season of Endeavour. It is welcome murder mystery territory, adjacent to Agatha Christie Land in an episode called “Muse.”

Morse’s first name is Endeavour, though no one ever calls him by that. As played by cutie-pie Shaun Evans, he is an anti-social, opera-loving, crossword puzzle kind of guy. He is, according to one of his colleagues, “prickly.” We like him.

The series returns for its longest season, owing to its growing popularity, and its setting which is the Swinging 1960s. As this fifth season opens, we are on the edge of the historic assassination of Martin Luther King. It’s not a plot device, merely a marker of the times.

If there seems to be a flaw in the series, it is that the Beatles haircuts that were all the rage of Carnaby Street and London appear to be absent in the students of Oxford as shown here.

As for the murders in academia, we find ourselves once again mixed in with a dangerous group of scholars. Between organized crime and academic dons, Morse must weave his over-educated presence, fitting into neither world. He is amused when his superior, Fred Thursday (Roger Allam’s crusty vet) talks tough to thugs.

This season the usual supporting cast members all return—the business-oriented female cop (Dakota Blue Richards) who respects Morse and likely finds him attractive but unapproachable. She must stoically stand in the interrogation room while a prostitute suspect slices and dices Morse’s character with a scathing psychological analysis on the mark.

There is the coroner with his macabre humor, and the head honcho Anton Lesser as the standoffish commander of the precinct.

This case centers on a Faberge Egg, now on display and likely to be stolen when a series of odd murders occurs in conjunction with its showing before auction.

The suspects are always cleverly lined up, and the red herrings are never ahead of Morse’s eye.

This was a juicy, intelligent murder mystery to start the new season, which is rushing headlong into the world crises of the 1960s and 1970s. Every little movie is a gem and, in this case, a jolly good egghead story.