|Shaun Evans and Roger Allam in Endeavour|
I'm always excited for the return of PBS's Oxford-set Morse spinoffs, Endeavour and Inspector Lewis, which make up this summer's Masterpiece Mystery! season beginning June 19. Kevin Whately will be saying goodbye to Robbie Lewis, a character he first played in 1987, when Lewis was a sergeant to John Thaw's Inspector Morse. But Shaun Evans, Roger Allam and the cast of Endeavour is already filming the series's fourth installment, set in 1960s Oxford, when Morse was just detective constable.
Small confession: I've already watched and enjoyed all of season three, and it's quite a bit quirkier than previous seasons. Here's what to expect...
1) The show owes a debt to Hollywood. Each of the four self-contained 90-minute episodes ("Ride," "Arcadia," "Prey" and "Coda" ), all written by Russell Lewis, references a classic Hollywood film: The Great Gatsby, The Graduate, Jaws and Dog Day Afternoon.
2) Not all of the regular cast members will last through all four episodes. To avoid spoilers, the less said about this the better.
3) There's a new girl on the force. Add to a show that already has characters named Thursday, Bright and Strange, WPC Shirley Trewlove. Played by Dakota Blue Richards, she shows up in the second episode.
4) The colorscape is getting brighter. And warmer. As the series movies into 1967, the sets and costumes are becoming a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows and oranges. Also, previous seasons were filmed in fall or winter; this one was shot in the summer, so things are decidedly greener.
5) But the detectives still have their dark colors. That's literally and figuratively. Season two ended with Endeavour Morse (Evans) arrested for murder and his commanding officer, DI Fred Thursday (Allam), fighting for this life after being shot, so they're still carting around plenty of baggage — and still wearing those oppressive suits.
Fortunately, they're also still living in an era when lunch in a pub could be accompanied by cigarettes and afternoon beers...