Endeavour Remains Television’s Top Crime Drama In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Late this summer PBS released the complete second series of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour to the masses.  The four-episode season from the British television network proved to be such a hit among audiences that only a couple months after its release on DVD and Blu-ray, itv awarded the series with a full-season renewal for a third series.  There is currently no word on when Series Three will be broadcast.  But speculation is that fans won’t see new episodes until sometime in 2015.  That being the case, this summer’s release of Endeavour Series 2 will most definitely tide over audiences.  Series creator/writer/executive producer Russell Lewis has taken the success of the show’s first series /season and built quite solidly upon it in this collection of episodes making it one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.  Lewis has built on the success of Endeavour’s first season first and foremost through his solid writing.  The stand-alone stories that make up each of the four episodes will keep audiences just as much on the edge of their seats as in the show’s first series/season.  Audiences that haven’t yet seen this series/season will note that Lewis has also incorporated a serial element of sorts to the show; a serial element that hopefully will not overshadow the show’s stand-alone element when it returns in 2015.  Luckily in the case of this series the two elements are actually quite well-balanced.  It’s one more reason that audiences will enjoy this series.  The acting on the part of Shaun Evans and his cast mates throughout each of this season’s episodes completes the whole experience.  Evans and company expertly interpret the episodes’ scripts and help to completely immerse audiences in the stories.  Together with the gripping primary story lines and the newly added secondary, the acting proves without a shadow of a doubt once more why Endeavour remains better than any of the crime dramas currently polluting the “Big 4” and the major American cable networks now in its second series/season.

British television network itv’s crime drama Endeavour proved to be a surprise hit in its debut season last year.  Its second series has proven to be even more of a hit both on television and on DVD and Blu-ray.  The central reason for that success is the writing.  The stories crafted by Russell Lewis for this outing are just as gripping as those developed for the show’s first season.  Season opener “Trove” picks up right where the series left off in its first season with Morse having returned from his brush with death in “Home.”  Audiences don’t know it at this point, but the happy working relationship that Morse has with Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) is on the verge of a downturn beginning with this episode.  It’s part of the season’s secondary writing that makes this season even more enjoyable and engaging.  It will be discussed later.  Getting back to the primary writing, this season’s second episode proves just as much why the primary writing keeps the show so enjoyable.  “Nocturne” sees Morse investigating a series of murders that are linked to an old ghost story.  And in “Sway” audiences are presented with a story that seems to have been influenced at least to some degree by the stories of Jack The Ripper.  The comparisons are subtle.  But they are there.  “Neverland,” the season finale is perhaps the most gripping of the season’s episodes.  That is because it highlights the secondary writing that comes into play this season.  As Morse investigates a trio of murders, he uncovers corruption within the highest levels of Oxford’s society and even within the very police force for which he works.  It leads to not just one but two cliffhangers that are sure to leave viewers waiting anxiously for Endeavour’s third season.  There are those that have argued and who will, that the use of such a story element as these cliffhangers are far too below the standard set by Lewis in the series’ first season.  Those that are open-minded enough though, will see the value in these elements.  They keep anticipation high for the show’s third season.  It’s also only the first time that Lewis has used a cliffhanger at all.  So it goes without saying that Lewis has been tasteful in using it.  Lewis can easily be forgiven and even applauded for that.  Now the key is for itv to not leave audiences waiting too long for the show’s third season.  If network execs sit on their hands too long, the use of the dual cliffhangers will work against them and Lewis.  That’s because if itv waits too long to premiere Season Three, anticipation might have waned too much and such solid writing would have proven to be all for naught.

Endeavour’s second season proves in the long run to be quite a step up from the series’ first season.  That is not meant in any way to discount its first season.  Its first season was enjoyable in its own right.  But this season has taken the success of that season and built on it in a big way.  That is thanks in large part to Russell Lewis’ writing.  The stories presented in this season each keep audiences engaged from start to finish.  It is in itself a tribute to Lewis’ attention to detail.  The secondary writing that went into these episodes is just as much of a positive worth noting this season.  Lewis has incorporated a romantic interest for Morse this season.  Most interesting to note here is that his love interest is black.  Being that the series is supposed to take place in the 1960s–the civil rights era.  It is interesting to see the cultural acceptance of such a relationship in the U.K. verses the lack thereof in the United States.  It’s just one of the secondary story elements that Lewis incorporates into this season’s episodes that makes them so enjoyable.  The other equally important story element incorporated into Season Two is the gradually degrading relationship between Morse and certain individuals inside the police force.  Right from the season premiere to its finale, audiences see things really start to change especially between Morse and Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright.  The ultimate revelation as to Bright’s role in this season’s events makes him a perfectly despicable character in the long run.  It lets audiences know that something big is going to happen to him in the show’s third season.  It basically lets audiences know that Bright will likely get what’s coming to him in Season Three.  Here’s to hoping that in fact does happen.  The inclusion of a new underlying romance subplot and that of corruption within the police force is nothing new to the worlds of television and movies.  It’s been done.  But what makes it work so well here is the fact that [Russell] Lewis had not used these elements in the show’s first season.  With any luck, he will keep them to a minimum in the show’s third season.  Hopefully things will be wrapped up nicely early in Season Three so as to allow the show’s stand-alone elements to once again shine.  Regardless, their inclusion this season has done a lot to help advance the show and make it even more interesting and enjoyable.

The primary and secondary writing that went into Endeavour’s second season are both key aspects of the episodes that make them collectively so enjoyable.  As important as they are to the overall enjoyment and success of Season Two, the acting on the part of the cast is just as important.  Shaun Evans (Morse) and Roger Allam (DI Fred Thursday) are just as talented this season as in Season One.  The duo takes its roles with the full seriousness they deserve even with the show still in its infancy.  The care with which they present their characters makes audiences believe that Evans and Allam have been playing their roles for decades.  At no point in any of this season’s episodes does the duo falter in its high quality acting, either.  It makes suspension of disbelief that much easier and enjoyment of these episodes that much more in the long run.  Together with the season’s stories overall, the pair’s acting makes Endeavour: Series/Season 2 a must for any true lover of the crime drama genre.

Endeavour has proven once again in its second series to be just as enjoyable as any major American crime drama on television today.  It has proven that thanks both to the primary and secondary aspects of the show’s writing.  The expert acting on the part of Shaun Evans and Roger Allam helps prove this argument, too.  By themselves, each factor makes its own case why audiences will enjoy this latest installment of Endeavour.  Altogether, they make it stand head and shoulders above its American counterparts once again.  Endeavour: Series 2 is available no on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620626&cp=&sr=1&kw=endeavour&origkw=Endeavour&parentPage=search.  Audiences can get more information on Endeavour online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/endeavour/

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Broadchurch Outshines Almost All Other Crime Dramas In Its First Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Crime dramas are all the rage on American television. Each one of the “Big 4” has more than its fair share of gritty crime dramas. Even the cable networks are becoming overloaded with their own crime dramas. Even PBS has its own crime drama series in the forms of Endeavour and the newly resurrected series Inspector Lewis. Considering all of this, it goes without saying that fans of the crime drama genre have more than their share of shows from which to choose. The problem is that save for perhaps PBS’ Inspector Lewis and Endeavour, the majority of the crime dramas that fill the broadcast spectrum today are relatively formulaic. Now thankfully, eOne has offered American audiences a series unlike any other crime drama out there today, including those on PBS. And that is saying something. The series in question is Broadchurch. The series’ first season is available now on DVD. And this debut season of the British import is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, it is a serial. But the show’s writing more than makes up for that. That’s just the beginning of what makes this first season a hit. The use of original music at the right moments will keep viewers’ just as much on the edge of their seats from episode to episode. The same can be said of the acting on the part of the cast. This includes not just lead actors David Tennant (Dr. Who) and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Hot Fuzz, Locke), but to the cast in whole. Their acting, along with the wisely used music and even smarter writing together make Broadchurch: The Complete First Season a truly surprising first impression from this British import. And it gives quite a bit of hope for the series in its second season. Audiences that give this season a chance will largely agree with that sentiment when they purchase or order the box set for themselves.

Broadchurch is not the first imported drama or even crime drama to make its way to America’s shores. The series, as a matter of fact, has been adapted for broadcast on the Fox network this fall. Before audiences even begin to watch that Americanized ripoff, they would do well to check out Season One of Broadchurch if only for the show’s writing. That is the most important factor to the success of this season. Any viewer that is the parent of a small child will agree that this season’s story hits hard because of its reality. It’s a sad reality that children die in this country (and other nations) every single day at the hands of rather sick individuals. That reality gives so much depth and believability to this season’s story. Fair warning, it’s difficult to watch and will make any parent want to hold their child even closer by the season’s final minutes. Even more so, any viewer that is left dry-eyed after watching this season’s story simply isn’t human. Even this critic will admit to tearing up quite a bit by that time.

The emotional depth and believability of the writing is just the starting point of what makes the first season of Broadchurch such a surprise of a series. Audiences will appreciate just as much the twists and turns that are included over the course of this season. They are just enough that they will keep viewers watching on the proverbial edge of their seats right to the season’s end. The twists don’t just include the characters, either. There are minute details on which the camera focuses at random points that keep viewers thrown off the track right up to the shocking season finale. The finale won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see Season One. But it is most definitely unexpected, though sadly very much a reflection of life. To that extent, it makes this season’s story all the more gripping and worth the watch.

On an even deeper level, the writers responsible for bringing Broadchurch to life are to be applauded for the manner in which the series’ first season was constructed. Rather than have eight separate episodes, the writers used the model from Fox’s 24 in establishing each episode. Whereas each episode of 24 is one hour, each episode of Broadchurch’s first season is a continuation of the previous episode. So, all eight episodes of this season comprise just one storyline. And each episode has been written so well (unlike 24), that audiences won’t be left feeling like they need a program to figure out what’s going on. It’s the final touch to the series’ writing that makes the writing the cornerstone of this first season.

The writers behind Broadchurch are to be highly commended for the painstaking efforts put into making this series’ first season the gripping first impression that it proves to be in the end. Just as worthy of applause in Season One are those responsible for the show’s music. Yes, the music in this series plays just as important a role in its success as the writing. This is hardly common in most American television series. Audiences will note in the series’ first season that unlike so many other shows out there, it doesn’t rely on popular songs or music put in just to be there. The music incorporated in Broadchurch: Season One plays directly in to the series’ writing. The smart use of dynamics and overall placement from scene to scene within each episode heightens each episode’s emotional depth. Whether it be the season’s more pained moments as when Danny’s mother saw him lying dead on the beach, or even the more tense moments of the search for the killer, those charged with music placement went above and beyond the call of duty. It’s one more factor that makes the debut season of this gripping British crime drama worlds better than its countless American counterparts.

The music and the writing behind the first season of Broadchurch are by themselves integral parts of the season’s overall success. Together they make Broadchurch a fully gripping and engrossing series in only its first season. There is still one more aspect of this first season that proves Broadchurch to be the standard by which so many other dramas should model themselves. That final factor is the acting on the part of the cast. That applies not just to lead actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman but to the entire cast. Each member of the show’s cast expertly interprets the show’s script, making it even more difficult to figure out who is the killer until said person is revealed in the season finale. On the other hand that expert acting also pulls in viewers on a deeply emotional level, too. That expert acting on both sides of the coin adds one more level of depth, thus making this season of Broadchurch even more gripping. That final factor, set alongside the season’s writing and music, makes the presentation whole and wholly of the best first impressions from any new series in recent history. It makes the first season of Broadchurch one that any fan of dramas must see at least once this year.

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season is available now on DVD in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Broadchurch-Season-1-David-Tennant/dp/B00HGE90Z4/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1403311459&sr=1-1&keywords=broadchurch+the+complete+first+season. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at entertainmentone.com/home. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Endeavour Just As Impressive As Its Forerunners

Courtesy:  PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

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, EndeavourEndeavour 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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Inspector Morse prequel is a successful “endeavour”

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Crime procedurals are among the most popular shows on television today, next to “reality television.”  All four of the “Big Four” have their own share of crime dramas.  NBC has at least one show remaining in the Law & Order franchise.  CBS has NCIS and a handful of others.  Even ABC and Fox have their shows, as do the cable networks.  But what most audiences might not know is that PBS also has its own hit crime drama in the Inspector Morse series.  The Inspector Morse series is just as gripping as any of the shows that are all over cable and “The Big Four.”  And now, fans of Inspector Morse are getting a special new treat with a prequel to the series titled, “Endeavour.”

“Endeavour” will air on PBS this Saturday, July 1st.  And then it will be available on both dvd and blu-ray July 24th.  Whether one is new to the Inspector Morse franchise or a seasoned fan, “Endeavour” will pull audiences in and hold them through its entire ninety-minute run time.  The movie opens with a young Constable Morse writing his resignation letter from his police department.  He is going to turn it in until a young teenage girl goes missing.  That missing persons case turns into a murder investigation that would become the biulding block of Morse’s career. 

Morse starts investigating the girl’s murder.  And the more he invesitgates, the bigger the web of deceit grows.  Not only does Morse have to face off against suspects in the case, but also fellow members of the police force.  One member of the force in particular would seemingly do everything in his power to keep Morse from making any progress on the case.  And the reason why is later revealed.  It plays its own role in the ultimate outcome of this well written mystery.  The story has just enough twists, turns, and red herrings to keep even uninitiated audiences watching right up to the end without losing track of what’s going on along the way.  When the person behind everything is revealed, it’s so shocking that no one will have even suspected said person.  Even Morse himself didn’t suspect the criminal in question behind it all at first.

The Inspector Morse franchise may not be as popular as the crime dramas that populate network and cable television.  Chances are that’s only because it’s on PBS.  But if anything can be said of “Endeavour”, it’s that much more proof of the value of PBS.  It proves that PBS’ programming can be (and in many cases is) as powerful and entertaining as anything on standard network and cable. 

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