TV

Endeavour: An Almost Sequel

Maysa Hattab

Endeavour gives the sense of conferring a privilege to viewers, a glimpse into a rarefied world running parallel to ours.

Endeavour

Cast: Sean Evans, Flora Montgomery, Roger Allam, Patrick Malahide
Network: ITV1
Air Date: 2012-01-02
Amazon

Based on the much loved Inspector Morse series, taken from the novels by Colin Dexter, Endeavour is a prequel, but to describe it as such feels a touch unjust. With a more imaginative title than Young Morse or similar, Endeavour is free to stand on its own merit.

As played by Sean Evans (Ashes to Ashes, The Take), a relative unknown, Endeavour Morse begins the series as an introverted young detective constable, unsure of his place in the world. He’s on the verge of leaving the force, for lack of an intellectual challenge, when called to join the search for missing schoolgirl Rose Tremlett. As with the original series, Endeavour is set in an idealised Oxford of cloistered colleges and leafy suburbs. The setting, lushly filmed, together with Endeavour’s careful pacing, gives the sense of conferring a privilege to viewers, a glimpse into a rarefied world running parallel to ours.

In order to remain accessible, Endeavour -- which premiered 2 January on ITV1 -- does risk lapsing into dull, class-bound cliché. Morse has to endure the sniping of duty-bound but slow-witted plods, threatened by the ideas of a ‘college boy’; it also chucks in some police corruption for good measure. Worse, as is too often the case in recent British thrillers, the intelligentsia are all sneering, cynical and untrustworthy; the working class family of the missing girl flawed, but honest.

Endeavour transcends these potential pitfalls in large part due to restrained writing, and Evans’ performance. He adopts a number of physical tics from the late John Thaw, who played a greyer, and less open Morse in the original series. Without resorting to impersonation, he conveys a thoughtful, fiercely moral but naive character.

Happily, Endeavour soon gets the necessary nostalgia out of the way, introducing trappings of the character familiar to fans early: the love of opera, the red Jaguar, the aversion to blood. It stops short of alienating new viewers with too many winks to the fans, despite a knowing exchange featuring Thaw’s daughter, and cracks on with the plot.

It also introduces another recurring feature of Inspector Morse: his preference for cultured, unattainable women. This time, in the form of hints at a failed romance and a suspect’s comely wife, a former singer, played by Flora Montgomery. There’s a sweet, awkward moment when Morse’s professional manner falls away to reveal a boyish enthusiasm for the music when they first meet. Another of Endeavour’s unexpected pleasures is language. The inclusion in dialogue of colloquialisms out of common usage like feels authentic, not forced, which makes this more than an episode of Morse in vintage costume.

Endeavour also features some excellent guest turns, most notably from the always good-value Roger Allam, as a superior who fosters Morse’s knack for the job, despite the doubts of his fellow officers, and Patrick Malahide as a cold, sinister politician.

Even with the hints of menace throughout, as pointed out by a chirpy police pathologist (James Bradshaw), Morse, and Endeavour are both a little squeamish. Both shy away from the grisly or aspects of policing and of death, glossing over fallout among the living. Endeavour treats the events that follow Rose Tremlett’s disappearance as interesting mental exercises – much more murder mystery than crime drama. A flaw, or not, depending on the viewer’s point of view.

7

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image