Courtesy: itv/Public Media Distribution/PBS
Early this past September, Public Media Distribution released to American audiences the fourth season of PBS’ hit British import Endeavour. The latest season of the phenomenal crime drama is yet another successful release for both itv and PBS that shows once again why this series easily bests any American crime drama on television today. That is proven in part to the writing in more than one way. This will be discussed shortly. The work of the series’ cast cannot be ignored in examining this latest of the series’ installments. It will be discussed later. Last but definitely not least of note in examining this season’s recent home release is its bonus material. It, like the season’s writing and acting, plays its own important part to the whole of the season’s presentation. All things considered, the fourth season of Endeavour proves to be yet another entertaining offering from one of the U.K.’s top crime dramas.
Endeavour: The Complete Fourth Season has been available to American audiences for almost two months, having been released Sept. 5 via Public Media Distribution. For those who perhaps have not yet had the opportunity to view this latest installment in the ongoing series, it goes without saying that it is another enjoyable effort for the series. That is due in no small part to the work of the series’ writers. This applies both to the stories featured in this season and to the series’ interweaving subplots. All four of this season’s episodes give something totally different from one to the next. The season premiere, for instance, is easily comparable to the story at the center of the hit 19999 Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie crime blockbuster The Bone Collector. At the same time, a comparison to author Dianne Setterfield’s novel The 13th Tale in the story, too (not to give away too much of the plot). The second episode, ‘Canticle’ plays directly off of the summer of love for its central story. Even with this in mind, it still manages to make itself an intriguing story nonetheless. ‘Lazaretto,’ the season’s penultimate episode, changes things up yet again by taking place almost entirely in a hospital ward as Morse tries to find out why occupants of one bed keep dying. The answer plays out almost like something right out of today’s headlines (again, not to give away too much). There is even a nice, action packed police foot chase complete with gunfire for action fans. The season finale, ‘Harvest’ centers around a body found during an archaeological dig. The killer may or may not be connected to a pagan ritual held near a power station. It is yet another story that stands easily on its own feet separate from its counterparts in this season. That distinct identity of the season’s stories is but one part of what makes the season’s writing stand out so much. The writers’ ability to balance the stories with their underlying, interweaving subplots strengthens the writing even more.
Audiences will note in watching this season that while the central stories are solidly entertaining in their own right, they are not the only stories featured throughout the episodes. From one episode to the next, the writers make sure to not forget the Thursdays’ anxiousness over their daughter Joan as well as Endeavour’s personal struggle with himself over his feelings for her. Given, it is a serial element, but the writers at no point ever allow this element to overpower the season’s central standalone stories. That balance gives fans of serials and standalone series alike something to anticipate and appreciate.
As if the stories presented within each of this season’s episodes are not enough for audiences (and their balance with the episodes’ secondary stories), the writers’ ability to keep audiences guessing right up until the end of each episode proves to be yet another way in which the writing proves so critical. The stories put in just enough red herrings and twists to keep viewers completely engaged right to each story’s end without leaving viewers confused. When this is considered along with the already discussed elements in the season’s writing, it becomes wholly clear why the writing is so critical to the season’s overall presentation. It is only one part of what makes this season so engaging. The work of the series’ cast is once again just as notable as the work of the show’s writers.
The series’ cast – most notably lead stars Shaun Evans and Roger Allum – is top-notch once more in this season. This especially the case as Endeavour and Thursday raise personal matters in each story. Thursday becomes a powerfully sympathetic character as he tries to cope his daughter’s disappearance. Allum’s handling of Thursday’s emotional struggle makes these moments so powerful, even in their simplicity. In the same breath, his stress at trying to fill in for Chief Superintendent Bright late in the season is just as engaging. It is another way in which the writers develop Thursday’s character even more this season and another example of Allum’s expert acting chops.
Evans’ acting chops are just as notable as those of Allum this time around. The way in which he handles’ Morse’s continued dedication to his job alone will keep audiences engaged. His reaction at discovering the result of his Sergeant’s exam clearly exemplifies this. His reaction at finally locating Joan (there again is that secondary story aspect) is just as moving and will keep viewers just as engaged as his handling of Morse’s casework. When the work of the series’ supporting cast and extras is added alongside the work of Allum and Evans, the whole of the cast’s work does plenty to add its own share of engagement and entertainment to this season, showing in whole why the cast’s work is just as important as the work of the series’ writers. It is not the last of the season’s most notable elements. The bonus material that is included in the season’s home release is the last of those elements.
The bonus material included in Season 4’s home release includes a group of behind-the-scenes featurettes that discuss a handful of items. From the series’ look as it applies to the era in which the season is set (the late 1960s) to Evans discussing his take on his character and on Morse’s relationship with Joan Thursday to Evans even taking a shot at being a cameraman behind the scenes, audiences are given quite the insight into how this season came to life. Viewers will appreciate the discussion on the sets and costumes in “Making Endeavour in Oxford” because it shows the efforts taken to recreate 1960s Oxford. Evans’ discussions on Morse and Morse’s relationship with Joan adds even more to that one underlying subplot that runs throughout all four episodes, adding even more interest to this season. When that interest is joined with the interest created through the cast’s work and that of the series’ writers, the whole of those elements makes this season of Endeavour some of the show’s best work to date.
The fourth season of itv’s Endeavour is some of the series’ best work to date. Even at only four episodes, this season offers audiences plenty to appreciate including the extensive work by the series’ writers. The ast’s work adds even more interest to this season. The bonus material included in the season’s home release outs the finishing touch to the season. Each element is important in its own right to the season’s home presentation. All things considered, they make the season in whole another fully engaging offering from what is one of the U.K.’s best crime dramas. It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store. More information on this and other PBS Masterpiece series is available online at:
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