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In a Battle of Mysteries Between PBS and CW, the Winner Might Surprise You
August 5, 2020  | By Mike Hughes  | 2 comments

Two mystery shows are arriving now, just when we really need some fresh, scripted shows.

One, Endeavour, is in PBS' prestigious Masterpiece series, with rich craftsmanship and subtly nuanced performances. The other, Coroner, is on much-less-prestigious CW.

And the surprise? This time, the second, a CW show, is much better.

Coroner (9 p.m. Wednesdays, starting Aug. 5) is a summer surprise, a Canadian drama with smart stories wrapped around excellent performances. It introduces a character, Dr. Jenny Cooper, we care about, played by an actress, Serinda Swan (top), we like instantly.

Then there's Endeavour, which has movie-length stories at 9 p.m. on three Sundays (Aug, 9, 16, and 23. check local listings) on PBS. A prequel to Inspector Morse, it follows Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) as a young police detective in Oxford. It's beautifully filmed, but this time it tries too hard. WAY too hard, actually. The opener leaps skittishly between an endless array of stories.

Morse meets a mysterious beauty in Venice and a cheery guy who's a world traveler. Then there's Thursday, his former mentor (and father of his ex-girlfriend), now in a general funk. And their boss, Bright, struggling to help his ill wife.

These people come across recent murders, including ESP researchers and people who take late-night, riverside walks. There's even a hint of a supernatural element, which doesn't fit.

The show makes little effort to explain what's happening or to tell us how (or if) it all connects. In the first film, some stories are left open, others are unsatisfactory; we have to wait until the final film to get it sorted out, and even then, there are parts that require coincidence or don't make sense.

That doesn't mean these richly filmed shows can't be worth watching. I sort of enjoyed them; then again, I didn't have to wait two weeks to get it all semi-straightened out.

What this three-film season lacks is the quick, Canadian clarity of Coroner.

The story starts with a life-changing event for Jenny. The next time we see her, she has a new job – Toronto coroner – and a new haircut.

From there, we have good characters and solid stories. Particularly well-drawn are Jenny's relationships with her teen son and a handyman who lives nearby.

Then there are the murder stories, crisp and sharp. The first involves a juvenile detention center; the second involves a rich guy in his penthouse.

The latter has one flaw: One person who's interviewed sounds like he's delivering a treatise, not talking with fellow humans. Overall, however, these are good stories that wrap up at the end of the hour and make sense when you think about them later.

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George A.
On your recommendation, Mike, I watched the first episode of Coroner -- meh. It's a formulaic crime-of-the-week network drama, it just so happens that the network in this case is CBC. The lead actress is also way too young for the role she's playing.
Aug 11, 2020   |  Reply
This short, 3 Episode Season of Endeavour is terrible. It is the pre-story to a much beloved Detective; Morse. Created years after the end of that series, this is a multi year long-arc of Young Morse becoming eccentric Middle Aged Morse. It has done that well, following the change in the UK and Crime over decades. This time it looks that they're making a big jump toward Morse's curmudgeonly outlook. Difficult, particularly when young Endeavour Morse was such a winning character.
A Season only for those invested in the Arc of Morse.
(and understanding those years weren't great years, Historically)
Aug 5, 2020   |  Reply
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