Remember Inspector Morse? Masterpiece ‘Mystery!’ brings him back with ‘Endeavor’

McClatchy NewspapersJune 27, 2012 

The “Inspector Morse” mystery series was among the most popular ever broadcast on PBS and has lived on in re-runs for years.

Now a new series, “Endeavor” introduces viewers to a very young Morse, a gawky 20-something young lad who dropped out of the University of Oxford and never expected to go back to that city.

Set in 1965, the series starts on the day when a young Morse (Shaun Evans) returns to Oxford as a detective constable with a typed resignation in his pocket, and a weak stomach for dead bodies. He and several others are assigned to fill in on office duties while more experienced detectives hunt for a missing town girl, not an undergraduate. Class issues are always a part of British shows and this new series stirs in the eternal conflict of town and gown to the mystery.

However, in all cases in Oxford, the academic atmosphere permeates everything. That’s where Morse’s background comes in handy. He begins to investigate on his own, then, with the help of an older mentor. Clashes within the police station lead to other problems with upper authority — a trademark of the older series.

The first episode introduces you to the roots of the Morse most “Mystery!” viewers remember fondly. He loves opera, gazes dreamily at a red Jaguar, does crossword puzzles, and starts drinking in the pubs despite being a non-drinker when he arrives.

The biggest flaw in this series is that while it’s set in 1965, it doesn’t necessarily feel like 1965. Unlike the authentic feel of the “Foyle’s War” series set in World War II, “Endeavor” uses some bee-hive hairdos, smoking, old police cars and other window-dressing but the first episode’s not set firmly in the time period. Hopefully, this may develop more as the series goes on.

The original “Inspector Morse” series ran for six years with several specials. It ended with the death of the character of Morse in 2001 and, permanently with the death of the lead actor, John Thaw in 2002.

This is not the first “Inspector Morse” spin-off. The much put-upon sergeant of the original series, Robbie Lewis, has his own “Inspector Lewis” series, also set in current day Oxford. They will be starting on in early July for four weeks.

As the chief inspector tells him when Endeavor Morse is thinking of leaving the force: “World’s long on academics, Morse, but woefully short of good detectives.”

So welcome back.

ON THE WEB

Masterpiece Mystery! Endeavor

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