Most British detective dramas follow the same formula: death, a little bit of action, and clever commentary for good measure. ITV’s “Endeavour,” starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam, doesn’t stray far from the path. However, the cast brings just enough unique flavor to each 90-minute episode to make it not only crave-worthy, but binge-worthy if you have some extra time on your hands.
The series is meant to be a prequel to the beloved “Inspector Morse,” which aired in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Evans stars in the series as Sergeant Endeavour Morse, an Oxford graduate with a love of classical music and crossword puzzles. Similar to the original sergeant, played by John Thaw, Evans’ Morse is full of quirks that make him as delightfully awkward as he is brilliant.
But it’s Evans’ costars that bring out the best of him in every episode. Allam stars as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday and Morse’s close companion. He challenges his colleague to go beyond his Oxford background and think unconventionally about small town crimes. Anton Lesser plays Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, who pushes Morse to second-guess all of the initial conclusions he draws about homicides, suicides, and everything in between.
Then, of course, there are the women in his life, played by Sara Vickers (Detective Thursday’s daughter, Joan) and Shvorne Marks (love interest), who bring the softer side of Morse to the surface.
That’s not to say that Evans doesn’t do enough himself to keep viewers intrigued. He does Thaw’s character justice by skillfully portraying the learning curves Morse went through to become the hard-nosed detective he is in the original series. For good measure, he adds just the right amount of charm with clever remarks during lulls in the show.
For those who are looking for a new British detective show to indulge in, “Endeavour” delivers on all fronts. While some may call it run-of-the-mill, it’s hard to deny the strong performances of a cast with obvious chemistry.
Platforms: PBS Passport, Amazon Prime
Episode Length: 90 minutes