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Masterpiece Classic

Oxford’s Finest Return for Season 3 of Endeavour

June 8, 2016
It has been 1 year, 10 months, 20 days since the last episode of Endeavour aired on KCTS 9 on July 20, 2014 — an eternity for fans of the this first-rate detective series who were left dangling over a cliff after the tragic events of the finale of Season 2: the shooting of DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) and the arrest of our hero, DC Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans), who was falsely accused of the murder of Chief Constable Standish and left languishing in prison for a crime he did not commit.  
The good news is that four new episodes of Endeavour Season 3 begin on Sunday, June 19 at 9:00 p.m. and continue through July 10 on Masterpiece Mystery!
Queue the dreaming spires of Oxford and the atmospheric music of Barrington Pheloung….
If ever there was a valid reason in support of nepotism, it is Endeavour. Long-time PBS Mystery! viewers will get my drift. The genealogy of the series in order of birth (but not in linear time frame) is as follows: Inspector Morse (1987-2000), Inspector Lewis (2006-2016) and Endeavour (2012 to present). Inspired by the detective novels of Colin Dexter, the first series starred John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse and Kevin Whately as Sergeant Robert "Robbie" Lewis; the second series was a sequel of the first, so-to-speak, with Kevin Whatley returning as the promoted DI Lewis and his bat man Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox). Endeavour is a prequel to Inspector Morse, covering his early career starting in 1965. Are you with me? That is 78 episodes (so far) and approximately 100 murders over close to thirty years. One wonders if the chances of surviving in Oxford, the academic center and homicide hotspot of England (yes, I hear the Cambridge grads moaning), are very low indeed. It is a moral relief to know that all of the murders were eventually solved by Morse and Lewis, however. 
Joss Bixby (David Oakes) outside his grand manor house with his car collection.
“Ride,” Sunday, June 19, 9:00 p.m.
The first episode, “Ride,” opens in 1967, a year after the conclusion of Season 2. Released from prison and suspended from his job with the Oxford City Police, Endeavour Morse is adrift and pensive. While living in a rustic fishing lodge on the estate of a friend he reads the American classic, The Great Gatsby. Across the lake is the opulent country manor of the young, mysterious Joss Bixby (David Oakes), whose fabulously rich life seems to parallel that of Jay Gatsby in the classic novel, including a lost love and underworld dealings. I always enjoy the literary, music and cultural references in the Morse stories, and writer Russell Lewis pulls in the plot points and characterizations from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel beautifully. Readers, and those who have seen its many movie versions, will recognize several parallels to the roaring twenties wild party scene at the Gatsby estate and the 1960’s psychedelic party at the Bixby manor. It struck a chord with me and brought back memories of childhood music, mod British fashion and swinging sixties culture.
It is a relief to know that DI Thursday survived the shooting and is back on the job, even though he is still suffering from a bullet in his lung that his doctors could not remove. Yikes! The murder mystery in this episode begins with the discovery of the body (don’t they always) of a young woman found in the countryside outside Oxford, and clues point to a traveling country fair. Even though Morse is not actively involved in the investigation, the crime has been committed in his neighborhood, and he begins his own covert investigation, unearthing evidence that leads back to the big country manor across the lake and its enigmatic resident, Joss Bixby. 
Endeavour fans will not be disappointed in the new season. Shaun Evans is fabulous as the brilliant, yet emotionally conflicted, Morse; the scripts are tight, cerebral, fast paced and multi-layered—and infused with Morse lore for the devout fan. It’s also great to be immersed in the sixties culture, with its mod fashions like Nehru jackets and skinny ties for the men, and mini-skirts, go-go boots and bouffant hairstyles for the ladies. Groovy! 
Endeavour continues through July 10. Enjoy the new season while munching on potato chips and Lipton onion soup dip washed down by a Screwdriver cocktail! 
Kay Belborough (Jemima West) dances with Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) at the mod party at the Bixby manor.
“Arcadia,” Sunday, June 26, 9:00 p.m.
April 1967. The death of an artist in a horrendous house fire leaves Oxford City Police baffled. Then when a young housewife dies, seemingly of a mysterious ‘tummy bug’ that has sickened half of the police force, DC Morse's investigation leads him to an inner-city supermarket, owned by a wealthy Oxford family riven with personal and professional problems. 
“Prey,” Sunday, July 3, 9:00 p.m.
June 1967. A missing persons case of a Dutch au pair proves far from routine, pulling Endeavour into the dueling worlds of Oxford scientific academia, the city's vast parks, night school and the untamed wilderness of the Oxfordshire countryside. Connected to the investigation is an august family of three troubled siblings. When a suspected link between the au pair's disappearance and a cold case from years back is unearthed, unconventional methods in that investigation create fraying tensions across the police force. As the body count rises, Endeavour deduces that there may be darker forces at play.
“Coda,” Sunday, July 10, 9:00 p.m.
June 1967. Endeavour is occupied with unexpected strife in his personal life. Recruited by a college mentor to monitor the movements of his estranged younger wife, Endeavour finds himself drawn to the woman he is investigating. The grisly murder of a man who works in fashion causes a shakeup in Oxford’s criminal underworld. Meanwhile, Endeavour considers his future on the force, leading to an agonizing conclusion to the series.
Images and video courtesy of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE in association with ITV Studios © 2016
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Laurel Ann Nattress

Writer, blogger, and editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Laurel Ann Nattress is a champion of Georgian civility, British culture and Masterpiece PBS. Visit her at and follow her on twitter as @Austenprose

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