Saturday, July 2, 2022

Release Order is Best…Or Is it?


Scott D. Parker

Over here in America, PBS just dropped the eighth season of Endeavour, the prequel series to Inspector Morse and its spin-off, Lewis. My wife and I have enjoyed this series quite a bit, especially the interactions between the two lead actors. Shaun Evans plays a young Endeavour Morse while Roger Allam plays his superior officer, Fred Thursday. Their chemistry is fantastic, really serving as the backbone of the entire show and cast. That the show is a period piece—1971 in this current season—just adds to my love of the show.

But we’ve never seen either of the original shows.

Which is completely fine. For whatever reason, we only arrived at these characters via this prequel a couple of years ago. But it wasn’t until this week that we both agreed that we’d like to circle back and give the original show a look.

I was the one who voiced what we were both thinking: which characters, if any, appeared in the original Morse show? It was actually in relation to the Fred Thursday character. I wondered if any of the 33 original shows ever had the older Morse visiting with an even more elderly Fred Thursday. A brief glance at the Wikipedia page for Endeavour likely proves the answer. No, Fred Thursday does not appear in the original program.

That’s too bad, but it gives me hope that with the upcoming ninth and final season, the writers will tidy everything up and explain why Thursday isn’t in the original series. There’s the obvious answer. Maybe that’s the arc of Morse’s character. In this current season, he’s drinking more and becoming more aloof, telltale signs that is probably how the older Morse acts in the original.

This got me to thinking about someone in my situation, coming into an existing universe of stories during a prequel. Most of the time, the creators have to invent some new characters and not just have younger versions of the older/original ones. Star Wars did that—a lot—and many of those prequel characters get their own spin-offs.

Star Wars is a special case, of course, but if anyone ever came up to me and asked me where to start, I’d say follow the release order of the films. In that way, there are Easter eggs and shades of what’s to come sprinkled throughout the prequels. I suspect there are more than a few Easter eggs in Endeavour that longtime fans of Morse and Lewis pick up on that we don’t. That’s just good fan service. I wonder if a Morse fan from the jump—the first season aired in 1987—would have told us to start there just like I how I would introduce Star Wars to someone.

Be that as it may, my wife and I finally arrived in the Morse Universe—that’s a thing, right?—and we’re glad we’re here, no matter the route we took.

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