PBS has proven time and again throughout 2013 why it is such an important addition to any family’s viewing schedule each day. The network offers so much enjoyable programming for viewers of every age. That includes its imports of itv’s recently ended series, Inspector Lewis and its new replacement, Endeavour. Endeavour brings itv’s whole story started with its hit Inspector Morse series full circle as it brings viewers the story of how the famed detective got his start. Television today is overly rife with crime dramas across the Big 4 and even across the cable spectrum. That raises the question of what makes Endeavour stand out. Endeavour stands out first and foremost because of its writing. Tied directly in to the show’s writing is the overall lack of overt sex and violence. In connection to both of the aforementioned factors of the show’s success is the acting on the part of the cast. All three of these factors together make Endeavour stand out among the endless masses of crime dramas that currently pollute American television.
Writing is everything in any movie and television show. Far too few people pay attention to writing as the source of a movie or television show’s success or failure. In the case of itv’s Endeavour, the writing behind the show’s first five episodes is an example of writing done right for a crime drama. Much as was the case with the two series the preceded this prequel to the Inspector Morse series, the writing behind this show will keep any viewer guessing all the way to each episode’s end. There are just enough twists, turns, and red herrings to keep viewers engaged despite the roughly ninety-minute run time of each episode. The crimes in each episode aren’t all that viewers will appreciate from this new series. One of best examples of those twists and turns is the episode, “Fugue.” Anyone that remembers the 1999 movie, The Bone Collector or the movie that inspired it, 1935’s The Raven (which itself was remade in 2012 with John Cusack in the starring role) will see the obvious influence of both movies in this episode. It’s definitely one of the best episodes from Series One.
The writing behind the episodes’ primary plots will be highly appreciated by anyone that appreciates a true mystery. There is another aspect of the writing that audiences will appreciate in the secondary plot that runs through Series One. That secondary plot involves the bond that forms between the young Endeavour Morse and his partner of sorts, Fred Thursday. The bond between the pair grows throughout the course of each episode. It grows to the point that Thursday becomes a surrogate father of sorts, considering what eventually becomes of Morse’s own father. This plays into the first series/season’s finale. There is in fact one point in which Thursday does something that makes him more of a father figure to Morse than ever before. It is a short moment. But it is also a very moving moment for any viewer. It’s one more element of the expert writing that makes Series One a wonderful introduction to what will hopefully be another long running series from itv.
The solid writing does so much to make Endeavour’s first series an impressive reintroduction to the world of Inspector Morse. Tied directly into the show’s writing is the general lack of sex and violence throughout the first series. This is a standard established throughout both Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis. By comparison, the amount of sex and violence that permeates American crime dramas is stunning. Yes, the crime scenes sometimes can be a tiny bit unsettling. But that unsettled feeling of said crime scenes is extremely minimal at best again by comparison. And those people within the police department aren’t big, muscle bound men and women with….shall we say overt amounts of cleavage showing. Both men and women are dressed in full dress. The men wear suits. The women’s attire is just as classy. It’s a nice change from what viewers are exposed to on the Law & Orders and CSIs and others across American television. Keeping that in mind, it’s without a doubt, one more positive that audiences will appreciate from Endeavour: Series One.
The writing and general content included in Endeavour: Series One play very prominent roles in the show’s success. One would be remiss to ignore what is perhaps one of the most important factors of all: the cast’s acting. The acting of both Shaun Evans (who plays the young Inspector Morse) and Roger Allam (his mentor Fred Thursday) is just as solid as the writing itself. The pair has such incredible on-screen chemistry. Throughout each episode, the two work so well together, whether in investigating crimes or building their personal friendship. On another level, audiences will be just as appreciative of the acting on the part of Jack Laskey in the role of DS Peter Jakes. Jakes is wonderfully despicable opposite Evans as Morse’s antagonist. Jacks really makes audiences hate him. That is the sign of top notch acting. And along with Evans and Allam, his acting and theirs becomes the icing on the cake that is an excellent new crime drama from itv. It is an equally wonderful addition to PBS’ lineup for audiences that have gotten so accustomed to the high standard set by this show’s forerunners. It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=20427326&cp=&sr=1&kw=endeavour+series+1&origkw=Endeavour+Series+1&parentPage=search. More information on this show and others from PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery programming is available online at http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs and http://www.pbs.org/masterpiece.
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