Thursday, March 15, 2018


I much prefer small-screen drama to the big-screen. Television series lend themselves to a longer narrative arc than movies. Moreover, they rely on story-telling. They cannot hide a thin plot behind overwhelming special effects.

My favourite genre is detective fiction. It tells us so much of what we need to know of the human condition. And one of my favourites is Endeavour, the very fine prequel to Inspector Morse. Shaun Evans is a delight to watch in the title role. I reckon there is another twenty years between where we are ‘now’ in 1968 and when we first met John Thaw in the role; and I hope they will keep commissioning more series: they just keep getting stronger.

One of the things that makes Endeavour so poignant is that we know what becomes of Morse (though not how). We know that, though he will fall in love many times, he will never take the risk, seize the moment, to marry. That the women he loves remain to him a—completely unsolvable—puzzle to be solved, rather than a mystery to enter deeper into. We know that in the end, many years from now, his dying moments will be filled with a regret that spills over to grasp, too, at his colleagues with its chill fingers. And every time one of those colleagues urges the younger man to change before it is too late, we simultaneously long for him to do so, and know that he cannot.

I do not believe in a deity who has a fixed plan for our lives, a plan we can only fail to live up to. I believe in a God who, fixedly, longs for good for us, while leaving generous possibilities as to what that might look like. The sadness of Morse is perhaps not that he did not live the life he could have done, but that in a sense he remained a detached onlooker on the life he had.

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