Inspector Morse Prequel: Endeavour, Series 1

Well, it isn’t too often that I get really into a television show, but for the last four Sundays I have been riveted by the new prequel to the Inspector Morse series called “Endeavor“. The show airs on PBS Masterpiece (in NYC it is channel 13 at 9PM on Sundays). The story takes place in the extremely cool setting of the 1960s in Oxford, England and young Morse is played by the lanky but still cute Shaun Evans. Evans does a fantastic job in the title role.

morse and thursday

I don’t remember too much about the old Inspector Morse series. I do remember an eccentric white haired man that drank too much, loved opera and drove a fancy classic car who was incredibly smart and seemed higher brow than typical coppers. The new series travels back in time to Morse’s youth when he first became a detective.

old morse

It turns out Morse’s first name is actually Endeavor and the new show helps us to understand how the mature Chief Inspector Morse came to reside in the shoes and psyche he inhabits. Young Endeavor Morse is incredibly bright, somewhat of a prodigy. He was promoted way too early for the taste of the Chief Superintendent but we can see why. He is awkward, but earnest and honest. He’s very cerebral. His colleagues are jealous of his abilities, but he is coddled a bit by his mentor Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. Somehow, he seems to have his own charm with the ladies, because he is quiet and very mysterious himself.

morse and team

The story is superbly written. Everything is deliberate and lays the foundation for the Morse that Endeavor grows into. We learn of his mother’s death (we see her grave when he visits his ailing dad), his time at Oxford and in the army (he is a sharp shot at the range), and references to a romance that ended badly, but we are not sure why.

I have to admit that it was sometimes hard for me to entirely follow all the sub-details of what was going on in the complex plots. I think I will have to see the episodes again. But it was really really interesting nonetheless…

I was always a huge fan of mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s Poirot and of course Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t been so engrossed in a mystery television series since the Poirot series that now airs sometimes on A&E (which started on PBS) and the old Holmes series where he was masterfully portrayed by Jeremy Brett.

For the time being, you can catch the full episodes of Endeavor here on the PBS website:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/watch-online/

I suggest you catch them quick before they are taken down….