One of the opening scenes from the latest season of ‘Endeavour’ features a pair of secretaries as they arrive at the office where they work at the university: “Oh! Good morning, Miss Widdowson”, “Morning, Ms. Newell”, the other lady replies as she reviews the days’ correspondence. “You’re in early. It’s alright, I’ve got the kettle on.” The scene effectively sums up just how perfectly British ‘Endeavour’ is, how much it tallies with our idea of the polite, elegant, cultured and ritualistic British lifestyle. Or rather how much it squares with how we’d like to perceive it, but that’s beside the point in this case. The important thing is that you really, really want to pour yourself a nice cuppa’, sit back and relax on the couch, ready to delve headfirst into Morse’s universe, hellbent on beating him to the finish line and resolving the fresh batch of cases on his desk. And as any fan of the character will tell you, that’s easier said than done, because if there’ one thing the show is famous for, it’s the complexity of the cases presented, overlapping one another to meticulously unfold, much to the delight of the home-baked sleuth. Episode one in season eight, which mixes a death-threat against a Northern Irish soccer player and the investigation into a bombing, is a prime example of just how well the series handles several storylines running concurrently, switching between both cases, while also keeping track of our protagonist’s exploits in his private life, who now, instead of a fresh brew, seems to favor Scotch and beer to drown his sorrows.
The cases are excellently crafted, the locations in Oxford and surrounding areas beautifully capitalized, and of course, our charismatic and well-educated detective with a penchant for crosswords, classical music and opera, are what truly make ‘Endeavour’ such a delightful series to follow and a comfortable spot for many viewers. It’s also the secret to the character’s success since its debut in 1987 with the series ‘Inspector Morse’, the British public’s preferred choice on more than one occasion in the whodunnit genre, pretty impressive considering how demanding British audiences can be when it comes to police series. The original show ran for seven seasons and already had a spin-off, ‘Lewis’, running for nine. ‘Endeavour’ is also a veteran, and with eight seasons, all of which are available on Filmin, it’s well on track to overtake the previous two. Shaun Evans, who plays the young version of the character in this prequel, is impeccable, and one of its stronger points is how it has managed to uphold brevity as its maxim: not many episodes, but all beautifully crafted.
Although it falls into the crime show category, ‘Endeavour’ could be best defined as a comforting series; the treatment of the facts that only hints at the darkness and crudity. Nothing graphic here, everything nice and tidy. If a bomb explodes, you don’t have to worry about buckets of blood or body parts, the intention is not to horrify audiences. There’s just no place for all that in a universe where every case is a puzzle designed to entertain, not a window to the more gruesome side of humanity, which for some viewers might seem a bit blue-sky and artificial, those of us longing for a break from the more typical modern-day crime shows (not only drama, but also true crime),will breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Endeavour’ also inherits many traditional mannerisms and forms in how history is presented from its predecessor ‘Inspector Morse’, which might seem old-fashioned. However, it’s all part of its charm: it could have been made decades ago but in fact is still in production today and the prequel stands out for the particularly skilled use of historical context, blending past events into the cases so elegantly. From the anecdotal nudist colony in season eight, set in the 70s, to real-life political events and characters from specific organizations. When these connections do occur, the series is reminiscent of ‘The Crown’, and there’s a good chance both shows share a similar audience base. So, now you know. When the Queen of England’s off-air, what not try a nice cup of tea with DS Endeavour Morse.