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Set in 1965, the Masterpiece Mystery telefilm finds young Detective Constable Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans, Being Julia) at a career crossroads, thinking of quitting the force when a big case diverts his attention: the disappearance — and subsequent murder — of a poetry-loving student. Needless to say, it’s not the only corpse that will show up before the end is reached.

With tousled hair and a nose for leads that don’t always pan out, Morse is finding his way here, which makes the character instantly endearing. With that foundation in place, it’s up to the story to drive the proceedings, and the script by Russell Lewis (who’s penned several episodes of Morse’s spin-off series, Inspector Lewis) offers an intriguing mystery. It’s quite literally a puzzle — one which a woman’s brassiere size provides a vital clue.

Director Colm McCarthy shoots the rich Oxford setting as if it were Morse’s partner, and it may as well be. It comes as no surprise to me that Endeavour will be turned into a regular series, since it is — to borrow a phrase from the Brits — a ripping good yarn. —Rod Lott

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