Ever since the final days of 1999, television producers have been searching for a successor to the critically acclaimed, audience hit, Inspector Morse, based on the detective novels by British author Colin Dexter. Combined with the more recent news of the great David Suchet, CBE bringing the television adaptations of the Agatha Christie sleuth, Hercule Poirot, to completion, it’s been a tough road in recent years for the ‘literary detective’.
That said, the past few years we’ve been treated to a promising slate of police procedurals coming out of the UK, both on BBC and ITV. Re-stating the obvious, leading the pack is the Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss creation of Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Giving the Arthur Conan Doyle fictional detective a 21st century makeover was genius and seemed to kick off a resurgence of the police procedural based on literary figures. As with all successful detective dramas, the relationship/chemistry/belief/trust between these characters are key. Who can forget how Chris, Ray, Annie and, even Sam Tyler, would have walked through walls for DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars. Several others, in recent times, are showing great promise.
Just prior to the creation of Sherlock, Inspector George Gently, based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter, premiered on the BBC. Four years and four seasons later, the series stars Martin Shaw in the title role, Lee Ingleby as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus and Simon Hubbard as PC Taylor at the police station front desk. Set in the 1960′s, the interaction between DI Gently and DS Bacchus are what make this well worth the time.
This ITV small screen adaptation of the novels of Peter Robinson featuring Stephen Tompkinson (Ballykissangel) will return in late Fall 2012 for a second series of DCI Banks as Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Caroline Catz (Doc Martin) takes over in series two as DI Helen Morton with original partner, DS Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) set to return in series three.
Last, but certainly not least, comes word that the hugely popular, critically acclaimed Inspector Morse one-time-only prequel, Endeavour, will have four more pieces of greatness in 2013. Shaun Evans returns as the young DC Morse which is set in the mid-60′s and will again be written by creator, Russell Lewis. What has and will make this the success that it should be is due to not only a brilliant job by Evans, that idea that Lewis is keen to not only recognize but showcase the debt that’s owed to the late actor John Thaw, the actor who originally breathed life into Colin Dexter’s creation. Thinking back on the brilliant closing shot in the pilot episode of where Thaw’s eyes were reflected back to Shaun Evans in the rear-view mirror of a car (FYI, at 8:15 below), Lewis said: “…that was the money shot. None of us would be doing this if it hadn’t been for John Thaw. Without becoming mawkish or maudlin, it seemed to be the most reverential way that we could say thank you.”.
Look for all of these on public television stations in the States in the months to come. Again, more well worth your time telly.