PBS has been hyping Endeavor, the Inspector Morse prequel that had it’s US broadcast debut last night. KUAT, of course, was showing something else.
So, that means I turned to a shady site on the internet to watch it. I suppose I could have done this at any time over the last few months, since it aired in Britain in January. By the way, it got very high ratings over there.
The popularity of the tv movie (it still isn’t yet a series) is easy to understand. Morse was one of the more popular TV dramas during it’s eighties and nineties heyday.
I watched the DVD commentary for Inspector Frost (the other very popular British TV detective of the time) a while back, and actor David Jason noted the realism of Frost as a policeman versus Morse.
I don’t entirely buy that a character like Morse wouldn’t be a police detective, although he’d certainly be a rare one. Realistic or no, many people went along for the ride because of Morse’s believeablity as a human being. John Thaw made the depressed, stuck in pre-boomer morality, opera obsessed, alcoholic Morse a thoroughly compelling character.
But on to the “new Morse.” There wasn’t much to disappoint. There were moments that were put in for long time fans, for example a crossword puzzle editor is played by Thaw’s daughter Abagail. There is also a bit more explanation of Morse’s abbreviated college career at Oxford. Also, spoiler alert…Morse’s first beer.
Thaw may have had a bit of an advantage in his age, he knew how to use that older face to convey the basic sadness of the character. The new actor, Shaun Evans, doesn’t have that of course. He also is playing a younger Morse that, although distinctly an outsider, is not the unhappy loner yet.
The supporting characters are strong, and there is a healthy dose of office politics that the inexperienced and somewhat naive Morse gets thrown into. Long time fans will be happy to see an appearance of Max, the pathologist, who is played by an actor that could actually pass as a younger Peter Woodthorpe. He’s one of two later-day Morse characters that make an appearance, the other being a college friend that showed up in an early episode.
What, you were expecting a pre-teen Lewis to be there?
This was made as a sort of one off, but the initial Lewis was also done as a TV movie, with the series debuting the following year.