February 10, 2019

NEARLY ENOUGH TO REDEEM THE '60s:

Forget The Crown, ITV's Endeavour is the period drama for our time (REBECCA RIDEAL, 2/08/19, New Statesman)

1960s Oxford looks magnificent - a cityscape of grey and gold, with blue skies, leafy country pubs and a milky brown River Thames. It is a place where the dangerous allure and terrible beauty of a city founded on privilege, hypocrisy, intellectual power and raw talent is overt. Against this backdrop, Endeavour is like an enlarged crossword puzzle - we have literature, class division, sandwiches, ambition, boating, excessive alcohol consumption, opera, mystery, greed, art, and murder. At its heart, however, is the most poignant fictional detective ever created: Endeavour Morse.

He is played as thoughtfully by Shaun Evans as he ever was by John Thaw. Indeed, the genius of Endeavour is the way the repositioning of the "Morse story" into a 1960s period drama has enabled a retrograde metamorphosis of its central character. He has become a tragic hero yearning for love and purpose, failing to realise that what he wants, and what he needs, are under his nose.

In this early incarnation, we see the roots of Morse's incredibly flawed view of women develop. He places those he admires on unattainably high and unrealistically romantic pedestals. Given these circumstances, it would be easy for female characters to become one-dimensional plot devices that propel the central character's narrative. It is testament to the consistently brilliant writing of Russell Lewis (the show's writer since 2012) that the series deftly navigates this toxic side to Morse's character and offers us some of the most interesting female characters onscreen. [...]

Running throughout the drama is an exploration of the generational pushback that often follows war. This is manifest in the relationship dynamics between Endeavour and his boss, the World War Two veteran DI Fred Thursday. Thursday (played brilliantly by Roger Allam) is of the generation to have seen things no human should endure. Much of his trauma is implied, but it reverberates loudly for younger characters who display a tacit guilt over failing to match the perceived heroism of the preceding generation.

Posted by at February 10, 2019 9:18 AM

  

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