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Review: Endeavour

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Explore Oxford through its places and people, on an endless journey of rediscovery…

Impressive architecture, pinnacles that align as you travel by bike along narrow streets, aerial panoramas from church towers, Oxford city gives a sense of space that photographs fail to capture. It is only if you get close and personal with the place that you begin to grasp its true essence. If you have never been to Oxford before, or if you did not have the time to wander the streets and venture into colleges, the ITV detective drama series Endeavour makes it possible for all viewers to catch a glimpse of the fascinating world of Oxford University, while simultaneously uncovering its mysteries .

Shot in Oxford and its surroundings, the series is a prequel to the well-known Inspector Morse TV series  (1987–2000) based on the detective novels by author Colin Dexter. The action takes place in mid 1960s and focuses on the adventures of young Endeavour Morse and his early career. Having left Lonsdale College of Oxford University (spoiler alert: Brasenose College in real life) without taking his degree, he joins the Carshall-Newton Police. In the pilot episode aired in 2012, Morse is sent with other detectives from the Carshall-Newtown Police to the Oxford City Police’s Cowley Police Station to investigate a case of a missing fifteen-year-old schoolgirl. This mission comes on the verge of Morse writing his resignation letter but his superior veteran Detective Inspector Thursday at the Oxford City Police’s CID sees the potential of the young detective in whom he can place his trust and even friendship, making Morse his new assistant.

Endeavour is one of the best detective series ever produced, offering a journey into unexpected areas of Oxford from college rooftops to underground tunnels, Bodleian Library shelves and the Radcliffe Camera.

 

In the first episode of the series through a tracking shot overlooking Oxford’s Broad Street , with Blackwell’s and Balliol College in sight , the camera captures the atmosphere of the 1960’s Oxford life , with busy students hurrying for lectures, citizens on their way to work , vintage cars in bright colours and a double decker portraying one of the British emblems . The camera then cuts to a classroom of students attending a lecture, and then to an image of a choir in a church in dim light under a stained glass window as the credit sequence presents in white letters on a black font the name of Shaun Evans, followed by an angle shot of the singers of the choir with Morse framed in profile in the bottom right corner. The viewer has been introduced in just a few seconds in the world of Oxford and has made the identification character –actor, as the background music C Minor Mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Sarah-Jane Brandon at a high volume that creates discomfort hints at Morse’s passion for classical music and the apparent equilibrium which will be disturbed by a murder. This technique of alternating classical music with shots of Oxford will be representative of the whole series: in another episode the camera captures part of the painting on the Sheldonian Theatre’s ceiling and then pans down to the right from a pipe organ to Morse’s profile sitting in the lower gallery attending a concert.

 

From academic environment, architectural and natural beauty to narrow streets and wicked crimes the series portrays not only the heart of Oxford but also its hidden facets available for the viewer to discover.

The series is comprised of four seasons so far, with the fifth to air in 2018. Endeavour marks the 30th anniversary of the first episode of Inspector Morse, starring John Thaw. The series is written by Russell Lewis who previously wrote the Inspector Morse series and is directed by Jim Loach, the theme song being composed by Barrington Pheloung, who was nominated for ‘Best Original Television Music’ at the British Academy Television Awards in 1991. Apart from the talented Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse the series stars Roger Allam as Detective Inspector Fred Thursday; Abigail Thaw, the daughter of the ‘old’ Inspector Morse ‘John Thaw’ as Dorothea Frazil and the talented Dakota Richards Blue as WPC Shirley Trewlove .The series presents high-quality acting in a stunning setting and a pressured atmosphere constantly keeping its spectators in suspense.

Endeavour is one of the best detective series ever produced, offering a journey into unexpected areas of Oxford from college rooftops to underground tunnels, Bodleian Library shelves and the Radcliffe Camera. It casts the mystery further for the viewer to elucidate the geographical settings of colleges, and their real life names. After all as Dakota Blue Richards states: Oxford ‘is one of those cities that make you feel like there’s secrets hiding everywhere’. From academic environment, architectural and natural beauty to narrow streets and wicked crimes the series portrays not only the heart of Oxford but also its hidden facets available for the viewer to discover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njj6I6f-fCA

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