‘Endeavour’ Reaches A Low Point In Its Seventh Season

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

British television company itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour will have an eight season. Star Shaun Evans, who portrays the series’ eponymous character, confirmed the information late last month after the series’ seventh season officially wrapped on PBS and released domestically to DVD and Blu-ray.  When Season Eight starts recording is anyone’s guess.  While audiences await the premiere of Season Eight, they do have Season Seven to take in – as noted – on DVD and Blu-ray.  The show’s seventh season was an interesting point in the series’ run.  That is due in part to its writing.  That item will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies Season Seven in its home release is just as important to note in examining the season as the writing, so it will be discussed a little later.  Considering the content featured in this latest season, the set’s average price point is also of note.  It will be examined later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make this latest season and its home release a key moment in the history of Endeavour.

The recently wrapped seventh season of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour is an intriguing presentation.  That is due in part to its writing.  Unlike the series’ first six seasons, this season was presented in a serial fashion, according to Evans during a recent interview.  He pointed out that (thankfully) it is an approach that will not be taken again in the series’ eighth season.  The story opens and closes with Endeavour Morse attending the opera in Venice.  It is there that he first meets his new love interest Violetta (Stephanie Leonidas – Killjoys, Defiance, American Gothic).  Upon meeting Violetta, Morse becomes embroiled in what he thinks is an affair with a married woman, but is much more than that, as he eventually learns.  This critic will not reveal the end result of the duo’s tryst, but that the writers thought this plot element was needed is troubling.  Even his relationship issues in previous seasons with Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers – Watchmen, Privates, Shetland) were handled better than those with Violetta.  This latest romance story is just so contrived and overly commonplace for stories.  It felt so forced.  The revelation made in the season finale – which also is left here for audiences to discover for themselves – feels just as contrived as the romance subplot itself.  That revelation ties into the season’s overarching story about the homicides, which leads to even more contrivance because of how many people were involved in the crimes.  One can’t help but do a face palm as Endeavour traces all of the clues, which lead back to the ringmaster.

While the writing in general clearly caused its own share of problems this season, it did not doom the season.  Audiences will remain engaged throughout as they watch the working and personal relationship between Morse and Thursday become strained.  That strain is caused by the duo’s own distinct personalities and the related fashion in which they investigate the cases.  The only matter there is that considering how Season Seven ended, audiences were left wondering if Thursday and Morse had mended their proverbial fences.  At one point, the pair clashed, with Morse stating that he would put in for a transfer once the cases were solved.  However, it is unknown if that happened in the last scene of the season finale.  Thursday did search out Morse in that final episodes closing minutes, and he did find him.  However, audiences are still left hanging once Thursday locates Morse.  So considering that, there is a clear need for an eighth season if only for the purpose of tying up that loose end.

The only real strong writing point in this season comes in the season’s second episode, “Raga.”  It presents the rising tensions between the British community and Indian immigrants to Great Britain in the 1970s.  Now whether this matter is historically accurate is worth investigating.  That aside, it is a matter that echoes what is happening around the world today, with tensions rising everywhere against minority groups.  That makes suspension of disbelief relatively easy, at least until the killer reveals his motivation for committing his crime.  That revelation is a bit contrived in its own right.    Between this matter, the issue raised by the loose end between Morse and Thursday’s relationship, and the forgettable story involving Morse and Violetta, the writing this season just suffered all the way around.  One can only hope that the show’s writers will make up for those issues in the series’ eighth season.

The writing featured in the seventh season of Endeavour presents quite the quandary for the series, as it does something that has never been done.  Hopefully it will not be repeated in Season Eight, either.  It is just one of the concerns raised in this season, too.  The bonus features, or really lack thereof, poses its own problems.  Accompanying the episodes in this season is a series of vignettes in which various topics, such as the costuming and makeup, Morse’s relationship with Thursday, and Evans once again taking on a directorial role in the series are discussed.  Each discussion is very brief, running no more than a couple of minutes at best.  Little is really mentioned in the extra focus on Morse and Thursday that was not already known from the season’s writing.  Even the opening discussion about Morse’s evolution as a character offers little extra for viewers.  The most insightful of the bonus discussions come in the form of Evans’ discussion on directing and that of the costuming and makeup.  The other discussions are in reality, extraneous.  Viewers will be glad to see Evans’ own appreciation for what it takes to get the right angles, the impact of lighting for a scene’s mood, and other related topics.  His work behind the lens pays off, too, as is seen in the noted areas, as well as in the acting in the key episode.  The discussion on the costuming and makeup shows the lengths to which those behind the lens went to make sure that the series’ costumes and backdrops looked the part for the 1970s.  The mention of the effort to make Leonidas look like famed actress Sophia Loren in terms of her fashion shows even more, the attempts to maintain the look of the times.  It is just too bad that the discussion on making the show reflect the look of the times was not more in-depth.  For that matter, it’s too bad that none of the bonus content was more in-depth.  It would have been nice to have had some discussion on who made the decision to make Season Seven a serial season, why the writers decided to make that romance story between Violetta and Morse the center of the show, as well as where things will go between Morse and Thursday.  Sadly, that lack of extra information detracts from the show’s presentation in its recent home release even more.  Considering everything noted about the content featured in the seventh season of Endeavour, the set’s average point for its DVD and Blu-ray presentation makes for its own interest.

The average price point for Endeavour’s DVD presentation is $28.11 and its Blu-ray presentation, $33.25.  The DVD was not listed at Target, but the Blu-ray platform was.  Keeping all of that in mind, the DVD price point was obtained by averaging price listings at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  The Blu-ray price point was reached by averaging prices at the noted retailers as well as at Target.  Amazon presents the least expensive listing at $22.99.  Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers offer prices below that average at $22.99 and $24.99 respectively.  Walmart’s listing of $28.23 is just above the average, while Books-A-Million far exceeds that number at $44.99.  PBS’ regular listing of $34.99 also far exceeds the average, as does its sale price of $29.99.  Books-A-Million also far exceeds the average price point for the season’s Blu-ray presentation, at $44.99 along with PBS’ listing of $39.99.  Amazon and Walmart, which each list the season’s Blu-ray set at $27.64 offer the least expensive pricing while Target and Best Buy offer a slightly higher price at $27.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers reaches the high end with a listing of $31.49.  Noting the set’s average and separate price listings here is important, again, because of the content featured (and not featured) in the set.  The DVD price listing would have been more attractive at maybe $25 and the Blu-ray $30 if not maybe a little less considering, again, how little bonus content is featured in the set, and how largely forgettable this season’s stories are in whole.  That is in comparison to the show’s first six seasons, each of which are so much more enjoyable in their own right.  Keeping everything noted here in mind, the seventh season of Endeavour is the series’ lowest point.  Thankfully there is at least one more season left, and hopefully it will make up for everything wrong with this season.

The seventh season of itv’s Endeavour is the least of the show’s seasons so far. That is due in part to the season’s writing.  The writing presents a season-long story that feels so forced and contrived from beginning to end.  It also leaves at least one major question unanswered.  That question is whether Morse and Thursday’s professional and personal relationship will heal following the season’s events.  The very limited bonus content poses its own problem for the set’s presentation, too.  They give viewers a glimpse behind the writing and lenses, but little more than that.  Considering everything noted here, the average price points for the season’s DVD and Blu-ray sets seem a bit high, as do the separate listings.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s set.  All things considered, they make this season a presentation that hopefully will not be repeated in the series’ eighth season, whenever it launches.

More information on Endeavour is available online now at:










To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

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.

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.