Endeavour Morse will return

News reaches us at Fedora that a second series of Endeavor has now been commissioned. The show is a prequel to Inspector Morse with Shaun Evans playing the younger iteration of the character created on screen by the late John Thaw. I for one am very pleased to hear this as I thought the previous five episodes (one-off pilot in 2012 and four series instalments broadcast in 2013, all two-hours long) were well-above average.

Set in the mid sixties (more or less 1966 in fact), the show takes care to build in many elements that form part of the series mythology as created in the novels by Colin Dexter as well as the earlier TV series (including the character’s occasional limp, which belonged to Thaw rather than the Morse). Unusually all five of the two-hour films so far have been written by just one person, the very experienced Russell Lewis. He is also due to write the next series. With the end of the Lewis spin-off this will doubtless be greeted with much cheer by fans.

Me, I’m not always a lover of reboots (I remain the fence about the new Star Trek movies for instance), but I think they got it right here, with Morse refusing to play by the rules and annoying his superiors – mainly the faintly absurd and ironically named Chief Superintendent Bright (Anton Lesser) and failing to get through the ranks as he should despite his clear intelligence (or perhaps because of it). And his developing relationship with boss DI Fred Thursday (sublimely played by Roger Allam), police doctor Max (James Bradshaw, following on from the late Peter Woodthorpe) and PC Strange (beefy Sean Rigby in the role later played by the mighty James Grout), destined to become Morse’s boss, is handled with great warmth and humour.

Long may it continue, especially as Evans is quite superb in the title role, complimenting but never imitating Thaw’s previous performance – for that alone Endeavour should be savoured and celebrated. Four new feature-length episodes have been commissioned and are due to be filmed later this year for screening in 2014. A superb show, now available on DVD (and, in the US, from July on Blu-ray too).

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38 Responses to Endeavour Morse will return

  1. Sergio – Thanks for passing along the news. In general I agree with you about prequels, but from what I understand, this is a good ‘un.

    • Well worth getting on DVD Margot – it’s a cut above the rest (certainly when compared to the GEORGE GENTLY series for instance, which took much longer to find its feet)

  2. I missed Endeavour but have heard nothing but good things about it. I may have to look it up and see if I can watch catch ups.

  3. TracyK says:

    Sergio, this does sound interesting. My husband has not liked the Inspector Morse episodes we have watched (and we still have several unwatched sets), but maybe he would like these. We have and watch a lot of British TV shows … mostly crime related. How do you feel about Ripper Street?

    • Ripper Street is certainly a very different kind of show – much bolder, violent and modern in approach. Morse (which I adore) is resolutely old school and so is Endeavour – hard to imagine him liking this one any better though the pace is probably a bit fat :)

      • TracyK says:

        Since we (my husband and I) are pretty old, you would think he would like old school. No accounting for tastes. He does get into thrillers more now, maybe we need the excitement. And we watch Midsomer Murders a lot (on DVD) which is not violent at all, more on the order of Foyle’s War, which he loves. Maybe he did not like the character of Morse? (Although he really liked the book The Wench is Dead, and encourages me to read it.)

        • I suspect you may be right then as Morse doesn’t feature very heavily in Wench - Midsomer is silly but fun while Foyle I have never liked much but nearly all my friends rate it very highly so it’s clearly a bit of a blind spot. Actually my parents (in their 70s) probably prefer a bit more action than I do – I’m much more into mood and texture (as I’m sure has become obvious!)

  4. Colin says:

    Interesting. You know, I never really managed to get into Morse back when it was first on TV, and only ever saw bits and pieces of a handful of episodes. With all the praise heaped on it, I often feel I missed out on something. I actually though about trying the books – The Book People had, and maybe still have, a full set of Dexter’s Morse books for some thing like a tenner. I was always a little unsure if they were really my thing.

    • Dexter is an avid crossword fiend and the books reflect that kind of mind – very cleverly constructed and he has a nice ear for dialogue but plausibility is just not really an issue. The main character in the books is much more protean than the TV equivalent, heavily into drink and easily swayed by the allure of erotica. I love the TV series and if you decide to ever give them a go I would recommend starting from the beginning – Lewis meets Morse for the first time in The Dead of Jericho, scripted by Anthony Minghella, and then their relationship develops a little over the next two cases, The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (based on a very clever gambit based on the confusion of possible words for a lip reader) and Service for All the Dead, which is extraordinarily complex but beautifully done and shot in his typically flamboyant style by Peter Hammond – the two were scripted by Julian Mitchell and have some wonderful dialogue. Lets put it this way – if these three don’t turn you into a convert, just give up!

      • Colin says:

        Thanks for the detailed response Sergio – it’s very much appreciated. I may actually give the books a go first; over a dozen titles for a tenner is frankly hard to beat.

        • A really excellent deal chum as they are highly enjoyable whodunits. The TV series, predictably, did not follow the chronology of the books at all and in some cases completely re-wrote the characters (for Last Seen Wearing) and completely changed the plot (Riddle of the Third Mile).

          • Colin says:

            Ah! Actually, that’s good to know. If the books turn out to be to my liking, then it’s nice to hear the TV versions have something a little different to offer.

          • That’s definitely my attitude – complimentary but in many ways separate works (though Dexter did start altering the books much later on to conform with the TV show actually – nothing major but details like changing the car from a Lancia to a Jag …)

  5. Jeff Flugel says:

    Really glad to hear this news, Sergio – thanks for that! I really loved the first series of ENDEAVOUR and am glad to see you give it the customary insightful coverage here. You’re right to praise the cast. Shaun Evans is indeed nothing like Thaw really but somehow still captures Morse’s innate intelligence and bristly “awkward bugger” demeanor. If the mysteries occasionally ventured off into slightly barmy directions ala LEWIS, the overall seriousness of purpose, delicate tone, impeccable 60s feel and warmth generated by Roger Allam’s Thursday (truly superb work there) all worked together to make for absolutely compelling viewing.

    • Thanks for that Jeff – and I agree, some of the plots were on the verge of being a bit silly and over the top (the dying message in the church was a bit too elaborate I thought) but on the whole managed to stay reasonably grounded (except when Morse went on the side of the building, presumably linked to his later admission of having a fear of heights in Service for All the Dead). More than anythign I think there is somethign about Evans’ eyes that resemble Thaw but the comparatively unhurried pace and emphasis on character have made it a real success for me.

  6. piero says:

    Quest’estate conto di mandarti un po’ di roba che ti ho messo da parte man mano che usciva. Appena esce, ti metto da aprte anche il Parke, La sera della prima, un romanzo che somiglia curiosamente molto ma molto al primo romanzo di Ellery Queen. Io all’inizio pensavo si trattasse di un romanzo, un abbozzo, un approccio a Roman Hat Mystery dei due cugini, ma poi instradato da Mauro Boncompagni che mi ha detto che la qualità della scrittura non era queeniana, ho cominciato a pensare a qualche alche vandiniano tipo Abbot, per esempio. Comunque sia, il romanzo è una rarità in America e da voi, che mi risulti è solo stato pubblicato in Italia, negli ultimi decenni.
    Stanotte ho postato un articolo sull’altro mio blog quello italiano (ma poi da esso farò l’artcolo per il blog inglese) su un romanzo di Hillary Waugh, appena ripubblicato in Italia, un romanzo veramente magnifico.
    Ciao.
    Piero

  7. piero says:

    Ma quanti traslochi fai in un anno? Io da tredici anni che mi son sposato non ho mai traslocato!
    Dovrei quasi farti conoscere una mia amica di Milano, esperta in traslochi: ne ha fatti una decina !

  8. Todd Mason says:

    I am currently entering the listings records of the first US broadcast for the first series, on PBS in July.

    • Very nice – sounds like the Blu-ray release over there is timed to that PBS screening – not being released on Blu-ray here so I’m very envious
      ENDEAVOUR

      • Todd Mason says:

        The PBS MYSTERY! package has followed ENDEAVOUR with SILK…I’ve enjoyed the first two hours, and will probably take advantage of my PBS access to watch the balance in advance of US broadcast…between and betwixt the likes of Stateside COPPER and HELL ON WHEELS, and a few others also set in Britain, I’ve managed to lose track of RIPPER STREET even while enjoying what I saw of it…

        • I managed to avoid Ripper Street entirely just through lack of time but my affection of the original Morse made it impossible for me to watch Endeavour. I think Morse, at its best, was the best of its kind (especially season 1,2 and 4) - Endeavour is less intellectually stimulating but tries very hard to be better than the norm and has a great pair of central performances. And it is truly unusual in being written by one person.

  9. Sarah says:

    Loved this series. He’s a great actor and am looking forward to series 2.

  10. Bunny Jean says:

    Had the wonderful opportunity to watch Endeavor today, and looking forward to future episodes. I am a Morse & Lewis fan. Did I understand someone to say that Lewis is coming to an end?? Being a diehard Anglophile, I am continually amazed at the prolific output of such quality viewing you have in Great Britain. Ripper Street, Sherlock Holmes, Upstairs Downstairs, Poirot, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett), Campion, Touch of Frost, Waiting for God, Dalgleisch, Inspector Wexford, Foyle’s War, Maigret, Wire in the Blood, Miss Marple, Rumple of the Bailey, Spooks (MI-5 in the States), Inspector Lynley, Whitechapel. These are just a few of what I have in my library of British programming. Any other recommendations you might suggest??Thanks ITV, BBC, etc., for such wonderful viewing!

    • Hello Bunny, so glad you enjoyed it. Lewis has now come to an end with its seventh season (nobody dies, never fear). You list some smashing TV shows there – I would add Jonathan Creek if you like impossible crimes and locked room mysteries and Peter Davison was wonderful in The Last Detective. The new Sherlock is pretty damn amazing of course. John Thaw was great as Kavanagh QC and have you ever seen the conman show, Hustle? Great fun – a lot like Leverage in the US.

  11. Yvette says:

    This is GREAT news indeed, Sergio. I loved the first season. So glad to hear there’s going to be a second. The casting is PERFECTION. I can’t wait for Netflix to set this up for streaming sometime in the future. I can wait. I hope. :)

  12. robert says:

    I did enjoy all C. Dexter novels, and I was a fan of Morse tv series. J. thaw nailed the character well, and it’s quite sad to think that when he played ” a Remorseful day” he was already ill. the sequel “Inspector Lewis” was a good one too. I usually find British detective books and series pleasant, and this goes for Rebus, midsomer murders, Lady’s N1 detective agency, or Frost as well. One can immediately see and read the difference with French or American shows for example. You can also have a look at the italian “Inspector Montalbano”. I was pleasantly surprised by the tv adaptation of Camilleri novels.

    • I love the Camilleri adaptations on TV (well, I am Italian)!

      • Todd Mason says:

        And, as noted, MONTALBANO is broadcast and streamed in the States by MHz Worldview, the small public network (so, sadly, a bit censored, if not Too much).

        • I do love Montalbano but obviously I’m watching it uncut (there is occasional nudity but not too much) and as an Italian my appreciation is obviously a bit specific though I’m from Rome so a lot of the dialect is prety impenetrable for me too (of course, that is part of Camilleri’s aim in attempting to reclaim a lost idiom).

  13. robert says:

    I had almost forgotten the great taggart, especially in the McManus years. It’s always nice to watch an old episode. the format of the beginning (2h per story) really allowed character development. Something almost gone today.

    • Couldn’t agree more Robert – and yes, been an age since I saw one of the early episodes of Taggart (technically the longest running cop show in the history of UK TV now).

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