The ’60s are back with PBS' ‘Endeavour’

McClatchy Washington BureauJune 26, 2014 

It’s so nice to have Inspector Morse back.

The iconic detective, created by the late John Thaw, was resurrected in 2013 as a younger man in the new series “Endeavour.” Set in the swinging 1960s, it deals with Morse’s past as a raw young policeman in an Oxford complete with girls with starched beehive hair and clouds of cigarette smoke.

“Endeavour, Season 2: Trove” begins Sunday on PBS with the aftermath of the first season: Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) is recovering from being badly wounded and dealing post-traumatic stress that makes him jumpy as a cat. His mentor, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), worries about him, and his love for the bottle.

Morse’s first job deals with an alleged suicide that rapidly becomes intertwined with a beauty contest, a missing girl and a theft at the university.

Oxford, the “city of dreaming spires,” is celebrating its 900th birthday. The simple celebration runs afoul of the unrests of 1966, a clash of generations, class and women’s liberation.

During the parade a young woman in the audience fires a starter pistol filled with red paint at the golden-haired beauty queen, Miss Great Britain, and is arrested.

Up at the university a display case of historical items is emptied by robbers.

A desperate father comes to the police station looking for help to find his daughter. Endeavor takes it on because “everybody’s somebody.”

The shooter is released because she’s a daughter of a local woman politician running for office and a former military officer. Depressed at the fact that her rebellion has basically been snuffed, she tells Endeavor, “There’s more to women than an empty head and Colgate smile. But it’s futile. Nothing’s going to get changed. I’ll walk away from Oxford with a degree and for what? An occupation: housewife.”

The swinging ’60s may be Endeavour’s time but World War II is alive and well in the memories of the older men who run the police station or the local villages, and the past of the characters. The war plays an integral part in solving the mysteries of “Trove.”

Not as devoted to historical accuracy as “Foyle’s War,” “Endeavour” has fun recreating the ’60s — the music, the dress, cars and neon signs that decorate the streets.

A former University of Oxford student, Inspector Morse loved his opera, books and the city. “Endeavour” carries on those traditions, including his dislike of blood and autopsies.

“Trove” lays an interesting hint of the dangers of the future, with Endeavor running afoul of the local powers-that-be, university snobbish hierarchy and the British class system.

We may know that he ends up becoming Inspector Morse, but the path to getting there is sure fun to watch.

Email: twells@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @TishWells1.

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