I finally got around to watching the first two series while home at my parents' house for Christmas. This is a quiet, cerebral, brilliant and Foyle-esque addition to the British mystery canon.
It is brilliant: with breathtaking cinematography, exceptional use of the music Endeavour Morse loves to listen to ---lots of opera and Mozart and chant-- and a golden-hued, twinkling spired Oxford as the backdrop to corruption that plagues the city world and the potent Academic life in the old city.
Endeavour Morse is a sad puppy of a detective who is so forlorn with his ill-fitting suits and large, watered eyes that you kind of want to take the crumpled, mournful fellow home and feed him up and pat him on the head--- luckily Inspector Fred Thursday (ROGER ALLAM AND HIS AMAZING VOICE) does just that on a few occasions.
The writing is to die for (no pun intended), an intricate waltz with such subtle infusion you have to turn your careful brain on. A few cliff-hangers and twists left me with a huge clutch in my chest.
While the rest of the world was watching Downton last night, I found the first episode of series 3 and it is just as arresting.
I spent my university years working through the Colin Dexter books and watching the original series but I have to say I like this a lot better. Probably my favourite Brit detective show since Foyle.
2.) Away in a Manger by Rhys Bowen
If Molly had married Jakob Singer we wouldn't be having the problems we have with silly Daniel who--though very much a product of his time and its idea of women in the home and hearth--- seems to forget once a page the WOMAN THAT HE MARRIED IS NEVER GOING TO FIT THAT expectation. Why does he hold her to it? FRUSTRATING MAN
Consistent Daniel rant aside, I really enjoyed this Christmas-set mystery. It's December, 1905 and Molly and her maid/adoptive daughter Bridie encounter an angel-voiced orphan shivering on a stoop. Determined to help, Molly does her best to provide for the young urchin while discovering that she and her brother are not what they seem at all.
A delicate and finely-tuned mystery that quickly delves into a few dark places, Molly's New York is resplendent care of Bowen's unbelievably sure handle on the time period.
So slip into a world of yesteryear: its sleigh bells and glistening shop windows, its oil lanterns and window displays and surround yourself in an Edwardian Christmas brilliantly imagined.
And just roll your eyes at Daniel and move on. Because, seriously pal,get it together!
(I won this book on Rhys Bowen's facebook site!)
3.) Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
I really thought this was just a smorgasbord of Gatiss and Moffatt's favourite Canonical moments. They just played around like kids with a giant toy box and the nods to the canon, its adaptations (anyone notice the hint of the Granada theme in the soundtrack? ), and its pastiches! (here's looking at you Laurie R King and Nicholas Meyer)
I loved the Victorian purist setting of course and I loved what they did with the 5 Orange Pips and the Diogenes Club: also the very meta and self-conscious discussion about Boswell Watson and his work in the strand.
I am not sure if this episode will prove quite as charming for those uninitiated with the Canon but I love that, like the series--and even more so ---it provided dollops of fun for those of us who who have spent most of our lives geeking out over the Holmesian world.
4.) The Musketeers
Another Christmas viewing for me was that last few eps of series 2 of the Musketeers which just is so much fun. Great character development, expert production value and a decidedly snarky modern flair combine to make this a rip-roaringly good adventure and probably my favourite adaptation of the stories---no matter the liberties.