‘Masterpiece’ embarks on another ‘Endeavour’

Mystery series resumes on PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’

Shaun Evans (left) and Roger Allam star in Season 7 of “Endeavour on Masterpiece,” premiering Sunday on PBS (check local listings).

Though it’s in the past, time is marching on for the younger inspector Morse.

The PBS prequel series “Endeavour on Masterpiece” begins its seventh season Sunday, Aug. 9 (check local listings), and it enters 1970 as it does. However, the dawn of a new year and decade doesn’t mean tranquility for British police detective Endeavour Morse (still played by Shaun Evans, who also directed the first of the three episodes) — since not only must he give extra care to certain relationships, he and longtime colleague Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) probe a murder in which someone’s whistling is a pivotal clue.

“I think the more that you do, and the more directing I do as well, the more it changes what I think about the character and what I think about acting,”  Evans reflects. “David Mamet, the great American writer (and director), says, ‘There’s no such thing as character, just lines on a page, and the onus is upon you to breathe life into that.’ I think it’s tricky. I also try not to overthink it. Just use your imagination.”

Morse isn’t in Oxford as the new “Endeavour” tales start. The sleuth spends the New Year’s holiday attending an opera in Venice, but it’s not long before he returns to duty at England’s Castle Gate police station, where his other new cases involve a rivalry between gangs and a supposed accident at a college.

In terms of doubling as a director, Evans gives a nod to everyone on the “Endeavour” team, whatever their individual disciplines may be. “Even if you are the best actor in the world and the writing isn’t up to scratch, then you’ll never make an impact,” he reasons, “but I think that we are blessed to be surrounded by terrific actors who come in and take their work seriously. And want to be a part of a team.”

“Endeavour” has an ongoing link to the original “Inspector Morse” stories that formed a major component of PBS’ “Mystery!” anthology (now folded into “Masterpiece”), since newspaper editor Dorothea Frazil is played by Abigail Thaw, daughter of actor John Thaw … television’s original Morse.

“She’s an essential part of the team,” Evans maintains, “and within the team, there’s just an enormous amount of respect for all of us as actors. If someone had a comment on anyone’s performance — which, by the way, we never really do — she (wouldn’t) say anything.”

With the latest episodes already having aired in England several months ago, an eighth season of “Endeavour” has been ordered. “I think it’s great,” Evans says of the continuation, “because while the characters are constant, each (episode) should feel different, and different from the next (season).”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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