British TV drama makers seems to like going back into the early to mid 20th Century, the success of Downton Abbey for ITV and The Hour for the BBC also show that viewers are watching in their droves.
ITV brought us a one off drama on the 2nd January called Endeavour set in the 1960’s. Fans of the Morse book and TV series’ will recognise that title as Morse’s first name, only revealed in the last Morse book and TV show. This is a prequel of sorts showing Morse as a man in his early police career, returning to the Oxford area he grew up in to help out with an understaffed local police force after a teenage girl goes missing.
As an occasional viewer of Morse, and its spin off Lewis, I was very familiar with the character of Morse and Shaun Evans managed to play the lead role intelligently, not trying to hard to copy John Thaw’s Morse. Providing more than a nod to John Thaw’s ruff, gruff style whilst still making an impact on his own, in fact this younger Morse was more patient and less ill-tempered than his older self. He played the part with Morse’s assertiveness of being able to spot things other may miss along with the emotion required. His emotions were more exposed in the folly of youth when trying to kiss a key witness, with whom he becomes infatuated.
The plot of this two hour special focuses on the disappearance of Mary Tremlett a local school girl, Morse is a Detective Constable brought in to handle certain aspect of the enquiry (the more mundane ones). During his lines of enquiry he uncovers suspicions within the Police Force hierarchy, links to local corrupt business men and even a political angle involving a Cabinet Minister.
He latches onto Detective Inspector Thursday played by Roger Allam (The Thick of It, The Jury) who becomes Morse’s mentor and in some ways his Morse to Morse’s Lewis…if that makes sense! He even manages to get Morse to embrace the “Pint” and of course drives the distinctive Jaguar car which it appears inspires Morse to his love of classic cars.
Two things were most impressive from this drama; one was the excellent use of music, not only the Barrington Pheloung theme which winds itself from the start to the end but the incidental use of Classic Music as a theme and a plot device. Second was the nature of police work without computers, mobile phones and Google! Morse has to travel round the area, knock on doors, ask hard questions and use old style telephones in order to piece together the case. It highlighted that there is drama in the chase.
I would highly recommend watching this (details below) and letting ITV know by twitter http://twitter.com/#!/ITV to make extra episodes of this promising series. In a Radio Times poll 97% of people have backed a full series – http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2012-01-05/we-want-more-endeavour!—97-per-cent-of-radiotimescom-users-demand-a-full-series
You can catch up with Endeavour here for the next few days.