Any crime or mystery book or television series that features a protagonist with extraordinary abilities of deduction and observation will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, and depending on the era that new detective arrives in it will feel fresh or like just another imitator. Right now, the stage is crammed rather full with two modern takes on the famed detective on television presently, one on the BBC (Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch) and a far inferior one (Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller) on American network TV, and the thinly veiled Holmes-ian take on a medical drama, House M.D., having just come to a close last year. Nevermind that Robert Downey Jr. has been playing the character on the big screen recently. Maybe that's why, for all its cleverness and strong characterization, the time just feels wrong for PBS's reboot of the detective series Endeavour.
Before author Colin Dexter's Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) rose to fame as one of the Oxford City Police's elite, he started out as a rookie plucked from obscurity by DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), much to the resentment of his peers and the new senior officer Chief Superintendent Bright (Anton Lesser). His ability to infer incredibly insightful things about a crime scene and witnesses prove very helpful in the cases to which he's assigned, but just as quickly his deductions are brushed aside as irrelevant or unusable (until later on when, wouldn't you know it, they prove invaluable). It all helps to build up Morse's reputation as more than just another trainee, and the crimes he solves and the conflicts his career faces make up the bulk of the first season's four episode run.
Endeavour has a lot going for it as a series, it just has the unfortunate distinction of being yet another crime-solving series in a rather crowded field of Sherlocks and Sherlockian one-offs. If you're looking for something to hold you over until the third season of Sherlock finally arrives, Endeavour's a far better option than Elementary or The Mentalist thanks to the strong leads of Evans and Allam.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
There are none.
"Masterpiece Mystery: Endeavour - Series 1" is on sale July 16, 2013 and is not rated. Drama, Mystery. Directed by Colm Mccarthy, Tom Vaughan, Edward Bazalgette. Written by Russell Lewis, Colin Dexter. Starring Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser.