When I hear the words sequel and prequel most of the time I find myself rolling my eyes and thinking oh dear, especially if the original was highly successful.
Those of my generation could probably understand this as all you would have to say is Star Wars and they would understand. The first films of this saga were released in 1977, 1980 and 1983. These were cult films for children who grew up in the 1980’s. However at the end of the 90’s the prequel trilogy of films was put into production. I of course can only convey my own opinions on this, but I feel the original three films were better and did not need a prequel or and kind of trilogy of sequel films. I also gather that the only people I know who truly love the latest prequel films are the next generation of film goers who must look on my generations films and think Where is all the CGI magic?
Star Wars of course are not the only films to have sequels and prequels plague them. Disney animated films also have many direct to DVD follow on films for the children that loved the first film so much. Two such examples are The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning a prequel to the original 1989 film released in 2008 and The Fox and the Hound 2 a sequel to the 1981 film that was released directly to DVD in 2006. The sad truth behind that is, it is just plain old commercialisation.
So we get to the crux of this post, on Monday 2nd January 2012, ITV broadcasted a very rare thing; a very good prequel. The original was Morse, the highly successful sequel was Lewis and now they had completed the trio with an excellent prequel entitled Endeavour. The original TV series were of course based on books by Colin Dexter, which ran from 1987 – 2000. Then in 2006 ITV decided to give sergeant Lewis a chance at being the Inspector and again ITV had made TV gold. Now we have Endeavour when we meet Morse as a young fresh faced officer at a crossroads in his life in Oxford a place that holds ghosts of a failed university career and what he sees as a plodding job in the police force.
When I heard about this project I did fear that this could well be a step too far. TV schedules have been full of police shows set in the 60’s and 70’s and many of them I will be honest I dislike. (I must be one of the few people who disliked Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes) the only one I did like was George Gently but it was never something I would be gutted if I missed.
So like an estimated 6.5 million others I settled down to watch the last of the festive TV treats. I will admit at advert break one (yes that is a major downfall to ITV viewing!) I was somewhat mixed about it. I liked the character and actor of the Young Morse (played by Shaun Evans) of course it was beautiful shot and it was set in the lovely Oxford but it was not really hitting the wow factor with me especially when we entered the police an we met the slime ball creepy Gene Hunt-esq senior officer. I will also say I was somewhat bored by the frequently repeated line of “I don’t actually drink”. However somewhere between advert break 1 and 3 ITV had won me over and what’s more by 11pm I loved it.
The casting was of course super, and just like Morse and Lewis it seems that ITV have gone out of there way to find the best of both new and established faces for this one off (hopefully to be commissioned into a series) prequel.
The script was of course well written and this of course enables great actors to shine.
But most important of all the script gives us the story and the thing that made Morse, then Lewis and now Endeavour so mesmerising; is of course the twist and turns of the plot. The best stories are those that keep you guessing and only reveal there secrets at the very end. Agatha Christie was a true master at this and show is this family of shows.
Then there is the location. Oxford can speak for itself and of course due to the nature of the beautiful city it is simply easy to transform it and capture it on film depicting just about any decade between 1550 and today.
Within 2 hours we see an awkward shy and thoughtful son of Quaker struggling with some big decisions and living and working in a city which held ghost of his recent past, develop and blossom into an integral part of a murder investigation and find his own self worth. We see some of this that we know and love about Morse his love of a good car and his taste in classical and operatic music and we see him change from a t-total man to a beer supper. We also meet Max as a fresh faced pathologist and witness that trade make queasiness Morse had for dead bodies as well as failing to get the lady.
It was nice that Music played such an important part to this storyline. My personal favourite Morse was The Death Of Self when Morse and Lewis find themselves in Verona investigating a murder.
So take note all you TV and Film Producers just sometimes a prequel, sequel or spin off can be great you just got to have the right people and chemistry to make it work. I highly recommend studying Morse, Lewis and Endeavour.