Echoes of Waugh in New Morse Prequel Series

ITV in the U.K. is running the third series of its Morse prequel which is concluding this week. This is entitled Endeavour and is based on Morse’s early career in the Oxford police force in the 1960s. There seems to be a subtle Waugh thread running through this series. The first episode, entitled “Ride,” was so stuffed with allusions to The Great Gatsby that there wasn’t much room for Waugh.

The second episode, however, was entitled “Arcadia.” It opened with a scene of a group of undergraduate hearties running down an African student on what looks like Oxford’s Broad street and then throwing him into the river. That subplot is more or less a red herring so far as the rest of the, as usual, convoluted storyline is concerned.  So, perhaps a nod toward Decline & Fall as well as Brideshead Revisited.

The third episode is entitled “Prey.” From the title and plot summary this didn’t sound very promising. But then it turns out there is a family named the Mortmaignes that lives in a country house outside Oxford called Crevecoeur. The mother is dead and the father has exiled himself to Kenya. There are a brother and two sisters (one named Julia) still living in the house, and, yes, it has a chapel and they seem to be Roman Catholic. According to at least one blogger, there is also a “revisited” element here. In a complicated time shift, Crevecoeur figures in an episode of Lewis (the Morse sequel) in which Inspector Hathaway returns to the house as part of an investigation. This occurs in season 4 in an episode entitled “The Dead of Winter.” It turns out that Hathaway’s father worked there as a gardener, and he himself lived there as a child. In case you miss the connection, the name of the young gardener working at Crevecoeur in the Prequel episode is Philip Hathaway. The plot of episode 3 has more deaths than are necessary, storylines that are resolved without sufficient explanation and nothing to do with the plot of Brideshead, but it’s difficult to ignore the family connections.

The final episode, entitled “Coda,” ran earlier this week. Watch this space for further allusions. All four episodes may be watched on itvPlayer with a U.K. internet connection (or proxy connection outside the U.K.) As Masterpiece Theatre is a co-producer, the series should be available on PBS in the near future as well by streaming from Amazon.

Share
This entry was posted in Brideshead Revisited, Decline and Fall, Oxford, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.