Set in the 1960s, the show follows Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable. Working alongside his senior partner DI Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.
With the help of DS John Bacchus, Inspector George Gently spends his days bringing to justice members of the criminal underworld who are unfortunate enough to have the intrepid investigator assigned to their cases.
As WW2 rages around the world, DCS Foyle fights his own war on the home-front as he investigates crimes on the south coast of England. Later series sees the retired detective working as an MI5 agent operating in the aftermath of the war.
Series 1 follows the early police career of young Endeavour Morse, who upon leaving his Oxford College without a degree, spending time in the Royal Signal Corps., and eventually joining the Oxfordshire Police, is transferred to CID, attaining the rank of Detective Constable. Originally starting out his career at Carshall-Newtown Police, Morse transfers to the Oxford City Police in 1965 following a murder investigation during the pilot episode. While with the Oxford City Police, Morse is taken under the wing of veteran Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. Inspector Thursday names Morse his designated "bag man" and shows him the ropes as Morse begins to solve a string of complex murders, much to the envy and annoyance of some of his superiors, particularly Detective Sergeant Jakes and Chief Superintendent Bright. Thursday and Morse's fellow officer, Police Constable Strange, try to steer the young Endeavour into taking his Sergeant's exam, so that he may be relieved of "General Duties" ... Written by
Scandinavian noir maybe fashionable but the writers of 'Endeavour' haven't let that bother them. This is very much in the old tradition of multiple murders solved in a Jag in between visits to choir-practice, oak-panelled pubs and sedate Oxford colleges. (It isn't true, by the way, that the students used to step over dead bodies as they went to lectures.)
Some killjoys may say that the more creative imaginings of script-writers should sometimes be reined in lest a strait-jacket of haute-couture production values stifle the life from a drama. And although it's true that the writers have shamelessly milked Morse's Oxford and assembled a Baroque labyrinth of a plot that leaps from one arcane artifice to another, they have, nevertheless, cobbled together a pleasing gallimaufry of ornamental machinations.
Endeavour dutifully, and somewhat predictably, splices cryptic fragments into a cohesive whole, against a backdrop of the traditional tropes: Uppity Dons, Masons, Middle-Class Miscreants, etc., but also, occasionally, gets his hands, or rather, his head and psyche, dirty to make the drama touch Earth in a few places.
Still, entertain, it does, and that's what counts. Two hours drifted by pleasantly and satisfyingly, (except for the bloody adverts) and the lack of realism mattered little. In fact, given Morse's predilection for Opera, instead of the Barrington Pheloung's matchless Outro, they could have a Gilbert and Sullivan production with a chorus of Freemasons: College Don: He solved the murder, Chorus: He did, He did! Sophisticated Lady: He caught the murderer! Chorus: He did, He did! Wide Boy: He solved it a-a-a-a-a-all! Chorus: Like a Times Crossword Puzzle!'
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