Endeavour, Season 1, Episode 1: “Girl”
Written by Russel Lewis
Directed by Ed Bazalgette
Endeavour, Season 1, Episode 2: “Fugue”
Written by Russell Lewis
Directed by Tom Vaughan
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on PBS
Television is flush with mysteries, quirky detectives who don’t play nice with authority, and period dramas. So how is that a show which mixes all three of these themes works so exceptionally well? For one thing Endeavour takes a beloved character, cranky opera loving Detective Inspector Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans), and imagines him as a young handsome, brilliant but sometimes sullen character that’s frequently squeamish at crime scenes.
Based on a series of books by Colin Dexter it is a prequel to the wildly popular long running Inspector Morse series. After a successful one episode run that aired in 2012 the series was commissioned for a first season currently airing on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery for the next four weeks.
Set in Oxford in 1966, episode one, “Girl”, focuses on Endeavour not long after he decided that he wouldn’t resign from his position. Not much has changed, he’s still anxious and uncomfortable around dead bodies and authority but now he’s got a new boss, Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) who is less than impressed with his attitude. Endeavour is frequently brash which is often mistaken for rudeness.
Against the backdrop of an investigation into the seemingly unrelated deaths of a secretarial student and doctor Endeavour begins to show his true colors. He’s got a thing about damsels in distress. He manages to do the right thing even if he’s the only one who thinks it is right.
Evans first appearance as Morse helped set him on the path to making the role his own and in “Girl” we see him further burrowing into the complicated character. With the nervous ticks and wry smile, Evan’s is perfectly matched for the role.
“Fugue” the second episode of the season is a true standout for a number of reasons. It perfectly displays the dense, rich and intricate storylines that slowly but surely come together by Endeavour’s misunderstood genius. While most shows would handle the story of four murders all connected by a killer obsessed with Endeavour and the opera with a heavy hand the episode never strays into clichéd territory.
Nothing in “Fugue” is done without purpose. It is decisive and perfectly executed from beginning to end. It is a deeply engrossing episode for the simple fact that it takes the time to slow down and bask in its main characters banal tasks. In fact these are the moments when Endeavour, and Evans for that matter, really shine.
The episode also features what might be some of the series best scenes, the beautifully constructed chase between Endeavour and the killer is tense and perfectly filmed. “Fugue” wonderfully showcases the almost father son bond that Endeavour and Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) have developed.
“Fugue” and its exceptional twist ending prove why Endeavour might just be the best mystery on television.