Endeavour is the first name of Inspector Morse and it is rarely brought up in the original Inspector Morse show. Morse’s Quaker mother gave him the peculiar name.
Peculiar names is another enchanting feature of the show. Endeavour has a Chief Superintendent Bright and a Detective Constable Fancy. But it is Police Constable Strange who takes the cake for bizarre names. And he climbs the ranks faster than Endeavour to being Detective Chief Superintendent Strange in Inspector Morse.
Britain today is more egalitarian than it was then.
In the sixties – the period in which Endeavour is set – Britain’s so-called aristocracy still held sway. It was a world where the son of a cab driver might stand little chance. Yet Endeavour Morse, son of one such cabbie, acquires the necessary class. He has passed through a respectable university – Cambridge – at some point. He has classy tastes in music, favouring Wagner, and is a fastidious being. The character is well crafted by Russell and superbly interpreted by actor Shaun Evans who has managed to make us really feel that he is a younger John Thaw.
And, if that is not enough, Thaw’s daughter is also a regular in the show where she plays a seasoned journalist – almost the only friend young Morse has. The veteran actor’s wife also acts in the series.
In Pylon, recently demoted and bitter, Constable Endeavour Morse follows a missing horse across a field to a pylon where he finds a dead young girl with a flower crown. How did she die? And why has her body been so carefully arranged.
And it’s not only Morse who has been humiliated. The episode opens with Chief Superintendent Bright acting in a traffic PSA with a pelican. Such a step down!
But Detective Sergeant Strange has risen in power. He reminds Morse that they had promised to find out what happened to Detective Constable Fancy who was shot in the last episode where we learned that the gun that killed him was not among the guns found at the massacre.
Fred Thursday, another staple of the show, has also been demoted. His new boss is rude to Morse. It is a very disturbing time as the original team is scattered.
Endeavour is a show that stands out for its use of music too and this piece from the early part of the episode nicely sums up things as they stand:
Given the peculiar way the dead girl’s body was arranged, suspicion falls on mentally deranged Stanley Clemence. His father was hanged for murder. Is history repeating itself? Morse visits Stanley Clemence to find out as The Velvet Underground play What Goes on…
There are other pieces of music interwoven into the episode but these few will have to do.
Meanwhile, here is a peek at the next episode:
Icarus, in Greek mythology, made wings of wax and feathers. But when he flew up the sun melted his wings and he fell.
Icarus is also the name of episode 6 of season 5 of a British crime drama, Endeavour. The series is set in the sixties, a time characterised by drug use. Youngsters flew high on the wings of various hallucinogens for youth is prone to experiment. And many came crashing down from those highs. Much like Icarus the Greek whose tale has come to us across the vastness of the past.
But in the episode, Icarus, it’s November 1968.
Endeavour revolves around a set of police detectives in Oxford, a university town in the UK. The show acts as prequel to another famous British crime series, Inspector Morse. Morse’s first name is Endeavour. And the show is about his early days in the force.
The sixties were still a time when birth mattered. Endeavour Morse’s father was a taxi driver. But he attended Cambridge, another famous British university. Yet he opts to be a cop. And it is his tastes in music, art and literature that enrich the series.
As Icarus opens, we see the police team we know so well on the verge of folding up. Detective Sergeant Endeavour, meanwhile, is sent to act as teacher, undercover, in a school. He’s to look into the disappearance of the teacher he’s replacing. The officers investigating what happened to James Ivory have died in a car crash
Morse is accompanied by Woman Police Constable Trewlove who will act as his wife. From earlier episodes we know that she’s in a relationship with Detective Constable Fancy. But for now, alone in their new living quarters, Morse plays music while Trewlove works on her toes. We wonder if she will be another of his lady loves for Endeavour has just lost another love. In Quartet, Claudine says farewell to him.
Claudine was introduced to him by Joan, the real love of his life. Joan is the daughter of Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday who is a kind of mentor to Endeavour.
Thursday has been sent to look into gangland matters. The show regularly features a gangster called Eddie Nero and his son is also at the school. Most of the school boys Endeavour has to teach are terrible bullies. And they are prejudiced, speaking badly of Jews and others such as the sons of rich gangsters.
The school’s games teacher is sadistic. His attitude will ring a bell for us in India. There are people who believe we have to be tough, that we have to take our country back to some golden age. Often, such folks display a love for the military. And in the worlds of such people there is no room for weakness.
Of course, a body is found. It’s not the missing teacher, however. It’s a student the school had expelled. Drugs are being used by the school boys. Drugs supplied by gangsters.
But Thursday is caught up in the tension between gangster Nero and his West indian rival. Things come to a head and the police have to rush to Nero’s place. As the show crescendos into a spiral of violence and tragedy, Jim Reeves sings He’ll Have to Go.
While the show is not all dark, there is stark loss and bitter betrayal and bleak locales shade the drama. But there is always exquisite scenery and Endeavour is a fine practice of cinematography.
Endeavour is based on crime novels written by a Colin Dexter. A part of fan enjoyment of the series are its regular features and during his life Colin Dexter would star in cameos. After his demise he continues to appear in photos. In Icarus he is in a picture on a wall behind Thursday in one scene.
Icarus is directed by Gordon Anderson who also directed the first three episodes of season five of Shetland, also a fabulous British crime series.
It’s always Russell Lewis who writes Endeavour episodes and fans breathe a sigh of relief as season six surfaced after a lull.
Quartet offers a foursome: spies, domestic violence or wife beating as we call it here, gangs, and an obstacle race.
It is probably hard for many Indians today to understand the Cold War climate. It was an era that bred much spy fiction. Spy stories thrived during the world wars.
But those wars never really ended for some. The Allies – the US and the UK, basically – had to contend with a new entrant to the game of expansion – the Soviet Union. The Germany that the Allies subdued broke into two under the strain of subjugation – East and West Germany. And East Germany provided a wonderful chance to perpetuate the idiom of the Evil Nazi.
While race relations fueled the previous episode, Colours, the fifth episode of the fifth season of the British crime series Endeavour side steps the issue but begins with an obstacle race.
October, 1968. As part of a British game show, participants from various European countries, dressed up as giants, clumsily compete in a race. Men, women and children have gathered to watch. As has the local police.
Endeavour is basically about Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse. The series is a prequel to an already very popular show: Inspector Morse. Inspector Morse is a character created by Colin Dexter. Endeavour has many regular features in each episode and one such is to have Colin Dexter appear, much as Hitchcock did in his films. After Colin Dexter passed away, he appears in photos in the show. In Quartet, however, he is hard to spot and I’m not sure what happened there.
Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse is at the obstacle race with other regulars from the show. And it’s a good thing the police are present for the funny games end in tragedy. One of the Giants fell during the game but does not get up. He’s been shot. As has a little boy among the spectators.
The dead man was from East Germany. However, though the police have been on the scene, they are ordered to stop looking into the case. The orders come from higher up. But Morse is not one to take orders lying down. And, as a consequence, he is plunged into the dangerous world of spies.
While Endeavour is out investigating the murders, Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday finds out that his newsagent might be a wife beater. And, as if that’s not enough on their plates, Morse and the others have to deal with gangland growls.
There’s also a rich perfumer with a dangerous fish as pet! And two absurd men who claim to be secret agents add a touch of humour to an otherwise tense episode.
Quartet has memorable jump-out-of-your-skin spots. And twists in the tale.
Coloured is what the British once called us. The British and others once used skin colour as a reason to oppress others. And it is such issues that colour the final episode of the fifth season of Endeavour, a British crime drama set in the late sixties.
Such a pity that we’ll probably not see the show ever, here in India. It would be good inspiration for our dramas and films. There is much that is similar between how people of colour were once treated in parts of the world and how we Indians treat some other Indians.
One takeaway is how to speak of things political without lapsing into propaganda. Colours takes place in 1968, a time known for riots worldwide.
Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday is dancing with his wife. Fred is not the main character in the drama but he and his family loom over the series.
DCI Thursday is mentor/father figure to Detective Sergeant Morse, the Endeavour after whom the show is named. But Thursday already has family. A wife, a daughter and a son.
The wife, Win, is a slightly pitiful gentle character and we mainly interface with her via her sandwiches. She packs husband Fred a different kind of sandwich for each day of the week but they never seem to impress him. As Colours opens, she refers to Thursday’s upcoming retirement – something to which he does not look forwards. He’s married to his job.
Daughter, Joan, serves as romantic interest for Endeavour. But it’s one sided – Joan, with a policeman father, can’t think of life with one. And, since Endeavour is prequel to another famous show, Inspector Morse, we know that Endeavour remains single.
The son only comes into prominence in this episode. He last appeared in Coda, episode four of series three. There, we see Sam leave to join the army. Early in Colours, we see him at an army base where a fashion shoot is about to take place.
Lance Corporal Sam Thursday and mates, Privates Oswald and Collier, will soon sail for Germany. But, in the meantime, Sam and his mates are asked to escort the models for the photo shoot. They gladly do so. Oswald is black.
We also see Morse and a girl, at the Oxford Debating Society, attending a talk on sending immigrants home. Rings a bell for us in India today.
Endeavour met the girl, Claudine, at a housewarming party thrown by Joan. Later, we see him leave Claudine’s flat and we hear:
Meanwhile, at the military base, as the models are getting photographed:
One of the models, pretty Jean Ward, flirts with Sam only to tell him she’s ‘taken’ already. After the shoot, as she changes:
In the meantime, Claudine and Endeavour have a picnic in a garden with a bottle of wine as the radio plays:
As the couple relax on a lawn, a hair salon practicing segregation becomes a target for protesters. Many protests, in those days, were sparked by segregation or not allowing coloured people and others to share the same spaces.
The police guard the salon. We see Woman Police Constable, Trewlove, another usual of the show – a bright and beautiful young woman. And Morse’s latest lady, Claudine, is busy taking photos. Joan Thursday and a student, Kit Hutchens, are protesters, with a Marcus X.
In those days, there was a black leader called Malcolm X – is the show referring to him?
In any case, there’s a small riot and Trewlove gets a black eye. Joan is arrested. But Detective Sergeant Strange, another regular on the show, releases her. Will something develop between the two? There’s already tension between him and Morse which is not so strange given professional rivalry.
But then Sam, Thursday’s son, becomes a suspect in a murder case as the model who kissed him is found dead on the army base. However, it appears that she kisses every Tom, Dick and Oswald and it is the black who is dragged off to the police station. Everything points to him.
And then there’s another corpse! So, who can have done the murders?
We are offered a fine choice of suspects. There’s the girl’s stepmother, a Nazi sympathizer, Lady Bayswater. She will inherit a lot with Jean out of the way.
But there’s also Marcus X and Thursday and Endeavour go to meet him. The murdered Jean, we know, kissed a lot of men. And it pleased her to chose those whom her parents despised – Marcus is black like Oswald.
However, on the army base, there’s a huge McDuff who seems to get easily excited and attacks Endeavour. He is treated with great gentleness by the regiment’s leaders. And, though we can see that he might be a murderer, he is not arrested and is only led to bed like a child by Major Coward. The Major then sings him to sleep:
Desperate as each clue leads nowhere, Morse also visits the salon during the investigation:
And it’s there that things finally fall into place in Endeavour’s excellent brain! The pace is peppy and there’s plenty of action in the showdown.
Colours has all the regular features of an Endeavour episode. The show is inspired by the novels of Colin Dexter and, while the author was alive, he’d appear in every episode. After his death, he shows up as pictures. Here, he’s in uniform in a photo on a wall.
With the finale of the season, I plan to diverge for a time as I do feel dejected that Endeavour may never be aired in India.
Viewers of the genre are always on the lookout for a good crime show. I know I am and it was that effort that led me to Endeavour.
Now, while this British show might be popular where it’s aired, many of us are forced to swallow an exclusive diet of our own creations or those from the US. Though the British once governed us, we have not shown them much partiality as TV shows go. It is a shame as that deprives us of some really well made shows.
Endeavour, fragrant with literary allusions, is set in Oxford, a very temple of erudition, and the show is deliciously well made. I can watch it again and again and gape and gawk at the sheer beauty of shots and locale. The acting is also really good. Of course, British English is quite hard for the Indian ear but it’s worth the endeavour.
CSI, Bones and Law and Order were all good shows and there must be good ones now, too. However, they more than narrowly miss being very very good. Unfortunately, we, in India, and much of the elsewhere, are subjected willy nilly to TV shows that are primarily from the US.
I hesitate to say ‘No harm done’ as any diet that does not include diversity is noxious, on the one hand. On the other, hardly any one can claim that TV shows from the US can be viewed as enriching!
I represent a small set of bloggers around the world who seek to bring home news of the delightful diversity of output from around the globe.
And so I continue my endeavour to invite you into the world of young Morse. Endeavour is a British crime show, a prequel to the popular Inspector Morse. The Morse show also sprouted a Lewis show but that’s another story.
Names are fancy in Endeavour. The main character is Endeavour. And then there’s Fred Thursday, Strange, Bright and Fancy!
Endeavour’s series five’s third episode, Passenger, opens to June 1968. Detective Constable Fancy is looking for Frances Porter. She was supposed to get on a train to Oxford but missed the last connecting one. Endeavour Morse finds her dead in a station that’s no longer used.
Now, in 1964, it’s reported, there was another murder and this one has things in common with that one. Is there a connection?
And we come to know that the dead woman was having an affair with a married man. In fact, shortly before her death, she was with him in a motel where she gave the name of her sister.
Then they find her co-worker’s body near an old railway track! The body count mounts as do the red herrings that pepper all episodes of Endeavour.
Alas, I doubt you’ll get to watch the series but I do hope you’ll enjoy the tracks from the episode. Endeavour always has good music from the period.
Young Morse visits the exotic boutique where the murdered Frances Porter worked and in the background plays a Cream number: Sunshine Of Your Love.
And when another girl at the boutique breaks down and weeps over the dead Frances and the boutique owner comforts her, we hear Liar, Liar by The Castaways.
And when Detective Chief Inspector Thursday and Morse visit the boutique to question the owner, and inform him that another employee is dead, Janis Joplin screams Piece of My Heart.
Now, Morse is sweet on Fred Thursday’s daughter, Joan, we already know, and when he comes to her house warming party, the The Rolling Stones are playing Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.
Passenger is well made, with very pleasurable scenes and it has the regular features like the sandwiches Win, Thursday’s wife, makes for him – a different one for every day and they’re never tasty to him. Colin Dexter, the author of the detective books, stars in all the Morse related shows. Here, now that he is no more, his picture hangs on a wall – employee of the month.
What with all the pop music in the show, Passenger still strives for cultural highs. Early on we have a recitation of an Auden poem:
As sign off, I offer you a taste of what being an Endeavour fan entails and two classical pieces which grace the episode. The show opens to a Vivaldi:
And for this trek through British railway history via a murder mystery, what can be better than Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata?
I sincerely hope you enjoy the music and, as for Passenger, I can only wish you chance upon Endeavour.
A cartouche is oval with, at one end, a horizontal line – an Egyptian inscription of royalty. In the second episode of Endeavour’s fifth season, Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphs and other clues.
Cartouche opens to a film show at The Roxy. After watching The Pharaoh’s Curse, retired policeman, Ronald Beavis, goes home and is found dead in his bed by his landlady. There is alcohol in his room and the autopsy shows that his heart and liver are damaged. Death by natural causes?
But toxicology shows that strychnine, in orange squash, killed him. Endeavour finds a cinema ticket in the dead man’s possessions. Beavis had the squash at the Roxy.
Endeavour heads for the movie hall and discovers that it is struggling to survive. Gangsters are threatening the movie hall’s café owner. And one of the gang is killed while leaving the café.
Investigations reveal that the deceased Beavis worked for an Egyptian archaeologist, Dr Shoukry, at the nearby Pitt Rivers Museum. Shoukry, passionate about preserving his ancient heritage, does not like the British.
To compound matters, there are arson attacks on Kenyan Asians – Indians. Detective Inspector Fred Thursday and Chief Superintendent Bright are tense about rising racial tensions.
A brick is thrown at the glass window of a public advice centre, where Asians flock for help. DI Thursday’s daughter, Joan, works there. Endeavour has a crush on her but has never declared his love. She is fond of him. However, she will not give her heart to a policeman, seeing how life is with a Detective Inspector father.
Previously, on the show, Joan left home, feeling responsible for endangering her father. When she was hostage at a bank robbery, Thursday almost shot the gangster involved. Fred Thursday gets violent when it is a question of Joan.
Father and daughter are never on good terms. But, when she left home, Thursday grew bitter and withdrawn and her mother broke down.
Now she’s back. And Endeavour meets her when looking into the brick throwing incident at the advice centre. Will romance blossom?
When the detectives reflect on Beavis, dead “with only a bottle for company“, Endeavour looks worried. Thursday, almost father figure to young Endeavour, is reassuring:
You’ll make better choices.
However, we know better! Inspector Morse, Endeavour in the future, is a bachelor. Things can’t get too promising. As Dr. Shoukry puts it, perhaps that’s possible
In the afterlife.
And, as Thursday retorts:
That’s beyond our jurisdiction.
But, let’s return to Endeavour’s love life. Early in Cartouche, he meets a pretty young girl.
And the next thing we know is that she’s leaving the flat he shares with Detective Sergeant Strange and newcomer Fancy. Well, we say to ourselves, the boy’s getting over his shyness with the ladies and turning into the ladies man that Detective Inspector Morse is. Only this is not just any lady! It’s Joan’s cousin. And Morse is asked to show her around town!
Since the girl has no interest in the fine academic buildings of Oxford, Endeavour takes her to the Roxy. She’s thrilled as many film stars are there. Including the famous Emil Valdemar.
It’s a grand event and The Roxy wants to gift Valdemar a watch as appreciation. However, the gift box has an Egyptian cartouche! And the old actor fears the curses associated with robbing pyramids.
All hell breaks loose as the Egyptian archaeologist, also present, protests – the cartouche was taken from his museum. And Endeavour spots a major gangster among the guests. Now, there’s a third corpse as the movie hall organist drops dead after a drink. The mystery grows until it crescendos to a grand flaming finale – a tribute to the epic films of yore.
Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour, also plays an actor in one of the films shown in the show. All the actors, regulars and new, do a splendid job of it.
Most Endeavour, Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis episodes are written by Russell Lewis. It is he who brings in the many literary and other enriching references that make Endeavour so pleasurable. To know more, Meet Endeavour writer Russell Lewis: a real man of mystery.
The dialogues are rich and pithy. Making a parallel between anthropologists and detectives, Dr Shoukry says they are both
keepers of the dead.
Cartouche is directed by Andy Wilson who has a decent line of productions to his credit. Here’s a trailer for his Ripper Street.
This blog has followed a British drama for some posts now. A police show. So, what’s new? Don’t we have many police serials in India?
Yes, we do. But most are badly made, full of stomach churning brutality by cops or villains.
Endeavour is not just about crime and punishment. Episodes cover the routine circumstances of the police station and the historical forces acting on such units.
Endeavour is based on the main character in a series of novels written by Colin Dexter. The author was very much an academic. So it is natural that the setting is Oxford, a university town.
Colin Dexter loved crosswords as much as his detective does.
Dexter created Morse and, in time, Inspector Morse became a TV show.
Then followed a series called Inspector Lewis, based on Morse’s assistant.
And, eventually, a prequel to Morse was born, the marvellous Endeavour!
Endeavour rests on a network of references. And one ends up watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis as well. In the next post, we continue to journey through Endeavour episodes with The Passenger.
She was just seventeen when the whole family was wiped out but many of their treasures continue to surface and attract auctions. The episode begins with the solemn notes of Mendelssohn’s oratorio based on Elijah. Elijah is a prophet in the Bible.
Meanwhile, somewhere, a man is painting a woman in the nude. Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse feels that the artist is seeking to recreate a famous work of art.
And, somewhere else, a man is murdered. Detective Inspector Fred Thursday identifies him as a boxer and petty criminal. And, in the murdered man’s apartment, the police find “contact mags” – publications with phone numbers for sex workers.
Endeavour is a series which boasts some fine music and what is more fitting for sexual scandals than Verdi‘s La Traviata, the tragic tale of a noble minded young man’s love for a high class prostitute.
One such lady was the last to see the murdered man alive, before he was found in his taxi, with bullets in his chest and a spike in his ear.
In the meanwhile, a masked someone, it is suspected, is trying to rob the fabulous egg. Is it “The Shadow”? This burglar is known to leave a red rose as signature.
Now, there is another corpse, stabbed in the eyes with a steak knife. And he has lipstick – the same type that the police found in the car of the first corpse. It’s time to look for a deadly female!
Could it be Eve, the lady in the white raincoat seen leaving his place? Eve has been posing for the artist.
Elsewhere, women take telephone messages – somewhat like today’s call centres. And one of these women is a friend of Eve’s. Long ago, they were raped. Are the murders revenge?
Precious eggs, pretty women, lecherous academics, boxers, gangsters all come together in Muse. While I’ll admit that getting hold of Endeavour might cost you an arm and a leg, it’s a worthy investment for an entertainer that’s worth every shot.
Shirley Bassey’s Big Spender is played when Eve does the Dance of the Seven Veils, a term which has come to mean something less exotic and more in the nature of synonym for strip tease.
In the midst of all this, the police force is being restructured. A very unsettling time, as it is, for our protagonists, British detectives based in the academic Oxford.
As for Joan, on whom Morse has a crush, it does not look like they get to spend the night together, even in this episode.
Muse continues the fine tradition of providing the viewer with aesthetic pleasure and of opening the mind to diverse snippets of interest. When a book or show does this, it serves one of the greatest functions of communication – that of being enriching. Muse also has a piece from Erik Satie, a fascinating cerebral composer.
As usual, this episode is also written by Russell Lewis. Lewis has written almost all of Endeavour and most of the Morse and Lewis shows as well. The award winning screen writer has also directed Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse for British television.
Muse is directed by Brady Hood whose Sweet Maddie Stone won for Best Short at the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival 2017.
To wrap up this glance at the first episode of Series 5, watch a trailer for the whole season: