The old Netflix suggestion algorithm worked its magic over the weekend as it threw up Endeavour, the Inspector Morse prequel staring Shaun Evans as the top suggestion.

I approached the show with some wariness, as I’m not the most unabashed fan of the original production. Don’t get me wrong, Inspector Morse is a quality show and the late John Thaw was wonderful as the titular character, but it never did fully grab me. And if I’m completely candid, I’ve never really understood why. It was good, very good occasionally, but somehow and someway it failed to reach the heights of my expectations. Maybe I just don’t like opera; or more plausibly I suspect I prefer shows that have more ongoing story arcs that cover multiple episodes.

In some ways the follow up Inspector Lewis meandered along the same path with Kevin Whately continuing his role from the Morse series. Now promoted to Detective Inspector, Lewis embraces the tradition that Oxford is apparently a more dangerous place than Chicago and Detroit… combined.

Netflix offers a number of episodes of both shows for streaming with the rest available via the DVD service. Both shows are binge watch worthy and certainly recommended as one episode, becomes two and then seven and meals are missed and sleep avoided.

Endeavour on the other hand, very much hit my sweet spot. Set in the 60’s when Morse is first starting out as a Detective Constable, the show has the desired on going story, or more accurately relationship building, that draws the viewer into the five episodes that are available. Evans is excellent in the role of Morse and there are a number of nice nods to the original series, but the star of the show is veteran actor Roger Allam.

Allam is one of those venerable old hands of the British stage who makes occasional forays into the world of television with appearances in the likes of Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and their ilk. Here as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, the mentor to Morse, Allam is superb and very much the focal point on which the production is based. Sean Rigby plays Jim Strange who Morse old hands will recognize as the eventual Chief Superintendent Strange in the original. There’s also a touching brief role for Thaw’s daughter as a crossword editor for the local Oxford paper.

Slang is kept to a minimum and there are some very nice period props that show someone was paying attention to the finer details. You’ll find both the pilot and the four episode first season available via streaming on Netflix and each 90 minute episode is well crafted and carefully plotted. A second series is already being filmed in the UK and is anticipated to be shown initially on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.

– Wallace Poulter

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