Stars: Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Danny Webb, Flora Montgomery
Writer: Russell Lewis based on the characters created by Colin Dexter
Director: Colm McCarthy
Network: PBS
Airdate: July 1, 2012

For those who were long time fans of the INSPECTOR MORSE series starring John Thaw, MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! Offers up a prequel with the British tele-film ENDEAVOUR.

Yes, prequels are getting really annoying and they’re ruining very good franchises when done wrong, yet writer Russell Lewis has “devised” a great new universe for Endeavour Morse before he was an Inspector and when he was just starting out on his road to becoming a great detective. He’s respectful of the source material, not only alluding to and foreshadowing the future Morse we all know, but also finding new corners to explore.

Shaun Evans is fabulous as the young new Morse – a rookie serving as Constable Detective but on the verge of quitting because he’s unhappy with all the bureaucracy. The series is set in the 1960s, so it links up nice to the Thaw timeline quite well.

When a young red-headed girl shows up dead, Morse suddenly finds himself obsessed with the case and getting closer to the truth than the far more experienced detectives. He finds a kinship with Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) who takes a liking to Morse’s persistence and knack for finding clues in seemingly insignificant things.

This camaraderie is the heart of ENDEAVOUR and hopefully if this continues as a series, we’ll see more of this relationship develop

This being a film, versus a regular hour-long series, there’s a feature film quality that director Colm McCarthy brings to the proceedings. Yes, we’ve seen every variation on the detective story, but ENDEAVOUR, particularly with its period setting, really stands out. This is fabulous storytelling – particularly in heart-wrenching irony when the killer is finally revealed.

Even Thaw’s daughter Abigail Thaw has a nice little cameo role that is reverent to her father. Great stuff.

ENDEAVOUR is super smart and keeps your attention throughout. Here’s hoping the success of this leads to many more adventures of the pre-Inspector Morse. They have the cast, the writing and the right feel. Now they just need to deliver more sooner than later, because frankly I can’t wait.

Related: Exclusive Interview with ENDEAVOUR actress Abigail Thaw


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