It’s been nearly a year but everyone’s favourite Oxford detective was back on our screen this week with the second series of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour. The dashing Shaun Evans returned as the young DC Endeavour Morse fresh from the loss of his father and being shot in the last series. From the off the show continued to have the feel of old Morse and Lewis that has made the show so popular. The return of Roger Allam’s wonderfully underplayed DI Fred Thursday was also a pleasing sight on our screens.
The first episode of this new series, ‘Trove‘, sees a world weary Morse return to his duties after being on leave for several weeks much to the delight of Thursday. A murder, a runaway girl and the robbery of some precious artefacts; who said that Oxford was a quiet city? As you would expect with any Dexter related story the mystery itself took its fair share of twists and turns; treading the line perfectly between a complex murder mystery and the plain unbelievable.
The story centred on a string of seemingly unconnected events around the fictional Beaumont College and a beauty contest in the city that the young Morse attempts to piece together while he continues to try and prove himself to the rest of the force. The rapport between Morse and Thursday appeared to me to be one of the highlights of the episode; with Allam and Evans producing a similar on screen relationship evident between Morse and Lewis and Lewis and Hathaway further down the Morse franchise timeline.
Stand out performances also came from Philip Martin Brown shrugging off his Grantly stereotype to give a sweet and touching portrayal of the missing girl’s father. Beth Goddard came across as a very determined liberated woman as Barbara Batten, a mother on the march for Parliament as the episode also touched on some interesting issues relating to the perception of women and feminism during the 1960’s, highlighting some of the issues and triumphs of women’s rights in during this period. The conclusion showed that Evans has come a remarkable way in channelling a character that already seemed to have such a presence in British culture. It’s clear to see exactly where Morse is going through Evans’ portrayal, yet at the same time he is not trying to copy Thaw’s Morse, just showing us where he came from.
The episode also set up a few story arcs for the rest of the four episode in the series with the introduction of Morse’s kind, young neighbour Monica (Shvorne Marks) “you’re not yellow you’re just a bit blue”, the threat of serious repercussions for our hero from one of the criminals, and a mysterious hand that appears at the end of the episode. From the trailer it looks like Morse will have a lot to deal with in the next few episodes and may sustain even more bruises. But one thing is for certain, Endeavour continues to prove the enduring qualities of Colin Dexter’s characters whilst also standing alone as quality piece of drama because of its intriguing and clever scripts and its talented actors.