Hello Mateys and welcome to my first review of the Endeavour series. Like my Morse reviews this post will include the art, music, literary references, locations etc contained within the episode.
This post will contain SPOILERS. I hope you enjoy this post.
Endeavour Pilot Episode.
Chronologically this is episode 1.
First broadcast 2 January 2012.
Colin Dexter appears briefly at 36m18s sitting on a bench.
Directed by Colm McCarthy: Colm also directed the Endeavour Episode ‘Home’ (Series 1, Episdode 4, 2013).
Writers: Colin Dexter (characters), Russell Lewis (written and devised by). Russell has written all the Endeavour episodes. He also directed;
Lewis (TV Series) (screenplay – 4 episodes, 2010 – 2012) (story – 1 episode, 2006)
– Fearful Symmetry (2012) … (screenplay)
– Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things (2011) … (screenplay)
– Falling Darkness (2010) … (screenplay)
– The Dead of Winter (2010) … (screenplay)
– Reputation (2006) … (story)
He also wrote the Morse episode, ‘The Way Through the Woods’.
A schoolgirl, Mary Tremlett, has gone missing. Cowley police station has asked for more policemen to help in the search for the schoolgirl. The extra bodies to help with the search are coming from Carshall Newtown Police Station. Endeavour Morse is one of those extra bodies and we find him typing out a resignation letter.
A return to Oxford is a bittersweet occurrence for Morse. He not only went to university in Oxford but also met and lost the great love of his life in the city.
As the police delve deeper into Mary’s disappearance they begin to find clues to the possible unsavoury world of older, powerful men having sex parties with young girls. Many of those girls attend Cowley School for Girls and Mary was a pupil at the school.
DCI Fred Thursday becomes fond of Morse and begins to realise what a great mind Endeavour has. Thursday also needs someone he can trust at the station as each new piece of evidence begins to throw doubts on the trustworthiness of those in authority at Cowley Police Station.
The case of the missing girl leads to blackmail, underage sex, murder and corruption and Morse finds himself caught in the middle of this maelstrom of evil.
(warning, this review may contain some spoilers)
When this series was announced I, like so many others, had doubts about not only the value of a prequel but someone else other than John Thaw playing the character of Endeavour Morse. John Thaw WAS Morse. He breathed life into the character and so much so Colin Dexter the character’s creator had it written into his will that no other actor will be allowed to play the part of Morse in middle and old age.
Thankfully any concerns were swept away by the end of the episode. Much of the kudos has to be placed at Evan’s feet for putting in a bravura performance. Shaun Evans did not try and mimic John Thaw’s performance, (Shaun has stated that he never watched the original Morse series). He didn’t turn his performance into an impression which would probably have been disastrous if he had attempted to do that.
However, on that note I would like to see some of the older Morse characteristics bleeding into his performance. But that is for a later date.
While Shaun Evans performance helped make this episode an enjoyable watch he cannot take all the credit. Whoever decided to cast Roger Allam should be applauded loudly. Roger Allam is excellent as Fred Thursday and at times he steals every scene he appears in. However, it is interesting that the writer and creator of the series, Russell Lewis, included a character that was never mentioned in the Morse universe. All Morse fans know that Morse hailed McNutt as his mentor. I would love to know why Russell Lewis did not use the McNutt character. Did he believe that it would be one reference too much for the new series. I believe that could be true and possibly including McNutt as a main character would have restricted Russell Lewis when writing future episodes.
Russell Lewis has written a superb piece of television but I wonder if television detective shows are becoming saturated with stories of underage sex and paedophilia and now it is becoming a cliche in the crime drama TV series.
The original Morse series dealt with paedophilia in the nineties in the episode ‘The Infernal Serpent‘. At that time it was a brave episode to write and produce as the subject matter was something very rarely tackled on prime time television. Was it a lazy option for Russell Lewis to write an episode about subjects that are becoming almost a weekly matter written about in newspapers, news websites, television and film? Personally I think it was slightly lazy writing but what Russell Lewis has written was excellent and so he can be forgiven for a jumping on the proverbial bandwagon in regard to the afore-mentioned subjects. The scene where the young Morse sees himself in 20 years (i.e. John Thaw) via the car’s rear view mirror deserves only praise and would certainly allow me to forgive any errors that Russell made.
Let us not forget the unsung heroes of many a television show and that is people like the director and cinematographer. The look and pace of the episode was sublime. The sepia look to much of the episode allows one to be transported to the 1960s and helps the episode have a genuine feel about it. Talking of unsung heroes, the wardrobe and prop departments should be saluted for their sterling work in recreating 1965.
I loved the many references to the original Morse series as it gave fans of the original series something to help them love or at least like the episode. The references showed a respect for John Thaw’s Morse but for those who had not watched the original series it didn’t hamper their chance to enjoy the episode. The references were cleverly included in that they were not integral to the plot and so would not have new viewers to the Morse universe stopping to ask questions about the who the what and the why.
We all know of prequels, sequels and reboots that have tarnished an original show’s good name but this episode thankfully never came close to devaluing or dishonouring the John Thaw series. This episode was not only a worthwhile viewing but added value to the Morse universe.
Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.
The first piece of music is played when we find Endeavour typing his resignation letter.
The music is from Madame Butterfly and the section is called One Fine (or beautiful) Day. This piece is reprised at the end of the episode.
The voice of Rosalind Stromming in the Endeavour episode is Janis Kelly. She is the voice singing from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, ‘Un bel de’ (One Beautiful Day).
Janis Kelly is also the soprano voice at 27m42s singing ‘Signora, Ascolta’ from Puccini’s Turandot. (This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2 also sung by Janis Kelly and used in the Morse episode ‘The Death of the Self’ first aired 25th march 1992. Yes guys, THAT episode 😉 ).
After a few rooftop scenes of Oxford we find Morse in his room studying the books he found in the dead girl’s room. The music mentioned above is playing.
Also from the Endeavour episode at 30 minutes and 42 seconds when Endeavour is driving the black jag to collect Fred Thursday, the soprano is Janis Kelly singing ‘Terzettino ‘Soave Sia Il Vento’ from Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart. (This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2 also sung by Janis and used in the Morse Episode ‘Happy Families’ first aired 11th march 1992)
Janis Kelly’s voice is also heard in the following episodes of Morse:
- ‘The Day of the Devil’ first aired 13th January 1993. She was the soprano voice singing ‘Adieu Notre Petite Table’ from Manon by Jules Massenet. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3).
- ‘The Death of the Self’ first aired 25th March 1992. Janis is the voice of Francis Barber’s character Nicole Burgess.
- ‘Cherubim and Seraphim’ first aired 15th April 1992. Janis is the soprano singing ‘Che Faro Senza Eurydice’ by Von Gluck. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2.
- ‘Absolute Conviction’ first aired on the 8th April 1992. Janis sings ‘Mitradi Quell’ Alma Ingrata by Mozart. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 2.
- ‘Masonic Mysteries’ first aired on the 24th January 1990. Janis sings ‘Bei Mannern’ – Welche Liebe Fuhlen’ by Mozart from The Magic Flute. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3.
- ‘Promised Land’ first aired on the 27th march 1991. Janis sings ‘Hab’mir’s Gelobt’ from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 3.
- ‘Fat Chance’ first aired on the 27th February 1991. Janis sings ‘Laudate Dominum’ from Verperae Solennes de Confessore K339 by Mozart. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 1.
- ‘Second Time Around’ first aired 20th February 1991. Janis Kelly sings ‘Senza Mamma’ from Suor Angelica by Puccini. This piece can be found on the CD Inspector Morse Volume 1.
One piece I haven’t mentioned yet is a very significant piece of music in the Morse universe; Faure’s Requiem, ‘In Paradisum’. Significant because it was the music which was used when Morse collapses to the ground in the episode ‘The Remorseful Day’. A wonderful idea; a piece of music that links Morse going to start his police career in Oxford and his life ending after a long career in Oxford.
Morse is being shown to his room by the his landlady, Mrs. Crabbin. She says to Morse, “This was Mr Bleaney’s room. He stayed the whole time he was at the Bodleian”
This is a reference to a Philip Larkin poem, Mr Bleaney written in 1955.
The first lines are;
‘This was Mr Bleaney’s room. He stayed
The whole time he was at the Bodies, till
They moved him.’
( Reference to ‘the Bodies’, is slang for the section of a car manufacturing plant where the ‘bodies’ of the cars are assembled.).
The first two-and-a-bit stanzas constitute the setup for the poem, which sees the poem’s speaker being shown the room he is to lodge in. His landlady, the woman who owns the house and who is renting out one of her rooms to him, tells him about the previous man to occupy the room, the titular Mr Bleaney.
In the same scene the landlady tells Endeavour there are only two other guests, a Mr Goldberg and a Mr McCann. Thank you to Deb who pointed out that there are two characters in the play, The Birthday Party, by Harold Pinter with the same name.
While shaving Morse is listening to the radio. The radio announcer mentions that an early hand written draft of Ozymandias by Shelley will be on display at the Bodleian Library. This piece of information lights a bulb in Morse’s mind. He says
“boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away”.
He then goes to talk to Dr. Rowan Stromming. As he enters the Doctor’s room Morse says,
“I met a traveller from an antique land who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert and on the pedestal these words appear, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my works, ye Mighty and despair.”
The full lines are;
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The works of Shelley are heavily referenced in the Lewis episode ‘And the moonbeams kissed the sea‘. In that episode a Shelley letter is forged and is his signature on other works.
Morse is in the pub with his colleague DC Ian McLeash and Endeavour says;
“Praise the God of all, drink the wine, let the world be the world“.
This is a French proverb.
Morse is telling Rosalind Stromming about a love affair he had that went bad. She says, “Better to have loved and lost”. This is from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, (1850):
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Morse is first seen at the Carshall Newtown Police Station. Carshall New Town is also the name of the fictitious town in Angus Wilson’s novel “Late Call”.
There are two pieces of art that stand out in the episode. First one is in Dr Rowan Stromming’s college class. The painting is on the back wall.
The second is on the wall behind Richard Lovell.
Rather infuriatingly I recognize the second one but can’t think of the title or the artist. The first looks like a young Percy Bysshe Shelley but I can find no corresponding painting.
The bus with the police officers including Morse, arrive in Oxford. The bus is driving down New College Lane and the Sheldonian Theatre can be seen in the background.
The bus arrives at the Cowley Police Station.
Cowley Station is in fact a disused RAF station. Unfortunately, I don’t know which one.
The camera pans around to this quad before the scene changes to Dr. Rowan Stromming teaching a class.
I believe this is Fellows’ quad in Merton College.
The next location is when Morse visits Miles Percival’s flat which he shared with the Australian Brian Lomax.
This is King Edward Street. In the background is Oriel College.
This is the view from Oriel Square. The red arrow is indicating where Lewis (Kevin Whately) enters in the Lewis pilot when he discovers that Morse had left an endowment for the Endeavour Award for musical excellence.
Where the woman is standing is the door that Endeavour stands at in the above picture.
Morse stands outside his old college, Lonsdale. Of course Lonsdale doesn’t exist. He is actually standing outside Merton College.
The college is on Merton Street. The same street is used when Morse walks with Alexander Reece and they talk of Susan/Wendy.
Of course the map above should read, ‘Endeavour and Reece walking this way’.
After Endeavour interviews Dr. Rowan Stromming about Miles Percival’s death we get a montage of Oxford rooftop scenes.
This is the Radcliffe Camera.
This is the Bodelian Library.
Up next we have the entrance to the premises of the Oxford Mail.
I believe this staircase is in St Helens Passage in Oxford.
After Morse faints in the mortuary Thursday has taken him to a pub to have a drink.
We as the viewer never get a proper look as to where the location is but I believe it is the Victoria Arms, Old Marston Mill Lane Old Marston Oxfordshire OX3 0QA. It was used in many a Morse episode.
Morse visits Cowley School for Girls.
This building is the front entrance of Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth, England.
Morse visits Edward Samuels at his garage. We of course see the famous red jag which Morse will eventually own sitting in the forecourt.
The scenes at the garage were filmed at the Wargrave Auto Centre, Wargrave near Henley.
Morse decides he needs a drink
The Lamb and Flag is the actual name of the pub in Oxford. Endeavour is walking down Lamb and Flag Passage.
The interior of the pub when Morse gets his drink and meets Rosalind Stromming is also the Lamb and Flag.
Endeavour is sitting on a bench probably contemplating his future.
Endeavour is looking over Christ Church Meadow. In the background is Christ Church Cathedral.
Endeavour and Thursday drive out to find the location of the salacious parties. They find Dempsey.
The location is Syon House,Brentford London owned by the Duke of Northumberland.
Next location is the theatre where Rosalind Stromming sings during her comeback show.
This is Richmond Theatre in London.
Finally we have the street where there is the now famous and emotional scene where the young Endeavour (Shaun Evans) looks into the rear view mirror of the car he’s driving and we see the eyes of John Thaw.
This was filmed on Pusey Street in Oxford.
Where the word ‘Pusey’ is marked on the picture above is where Morse stopped the jag at the traffic lights.
Thank you to Janette Worrall for identifying this location.
Morse meets Alexander Reece at Lonsdale College. While talking about the dead girl,
Mary Tremlett Reece says;
The word “odalisque” is French in form and originates from the Turkish odalık, meaning “chambermaid”, from oda, “chamber” or “room”. In popular use, the word odalisque also may refer to a mistress, concubine or paramour of a wealthy man.
In the same scene Reece says;
Tout avec frites means ‘all with French fries’. With the odalisque reference and the “tout avec frites” comment Reece is implying that Mary was overweight. Morse also makes a connection to Mary’s death via the word ‘odalisque’ in reference to her size. However, I can find no definition of the word to mean overweight or not slim. However in art when the word odalisque is used it usually refers to a model with a Rubenesque figure.
Next up are two very emotional scenes from the pilot.
When Richard Lovell is told by Dempsey that he needs to resign, Lovell moves toward the phone and says, “We’ll see what Harold has to say about it.”
Lovell is talking about the Prime Minister at the time Harold Wilson.
Harold Wilson. British Prime Minster (Born: 1916 Died: 1995). Labour PM between 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.
Of course the casting of Abigail Thaw, John Thaw’s daughter, was very interesting casting and a nice reference to the original series.
Connections to the original Morse series and the Lewis series.
I have already done a post on the connections which can be found by clicking here.
Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse
Roger Allam as Fred Thursday
Sam Reid as Brian Lomax
Terence Harvey as DCS Crisp
John Light as Dempsey
Charlie Creed-Miles as Teddy Samuels
Daisy Head as Jenny Crisp
Jamie Blackley as Johnny Franks
Harry Kershaw as Miles Percival
Richard Lintern as Dr. Rowan Stromming
Ian Gelder as Stan Tremlett
Maggie Ollerenshaw as Mrs. Crabbin
Jack Ashton as DC Ian McLeash
Emma Stansfield as Sharon Veelie
Flora Montgomery as Rosalind Stromming
Holly Ridley as Valerie Quillen
Michael Matus as Cyril Wright
Danny Webb as DS Arthur Lott
Patrick Malahide as Richard Lovell
Lisa Backwell as Anne Porter
Rachael Heaton as Mary Tremlett
James Bradshaw as Dr. Max DeBryn
Christopher Brandon as Alexander Reece
I hope you all enjoyed this post. I am planning to alternate my reviews between the original Morse and the Endeavour series. As for the Lewis series, I am writing a book on that series which I hope to have finished by next year. Take care everyone and thank you all for your continued support.