By Reece Goodall - The Boar
I’ve referred to it in previous entries of this series blog, but it’s worth emphasising once again that this series of Endeavour has really felt like a cohesive whole in a way that other series haven’t. Sure, we’ve had the odd scenes here and there in past series (the Freemasons claiming pieces of evidence, Sheila Hancock reading tarot cards), but these have mostly been pre-credits stingers – this fifth series, by contrast, has placed a number of threads in its episodes that add a far greater sense of unity. The latest instalment, ‘Colours,’ deals with one of these narrative threads – questions of racism – in another strong piece of television.
At a photoshoot at a nearby army base, one of the young models goes missing and is soon found murdered – suspicion falls on the soldiers who were assigned the job of protecting them, one of whom is Sam Thursday (Jack Bannon). As Supt. Bright tells DCI Thursday that he is too close to events and encourages him to take a backseat, Morse, Strange and Fancy take charge of the investigation. Things are soon complicated by further deaths and the discovery that the murdered model is, in fact, the stepdaughter of Lady Bayswater (Caroline Goodall), a Nazi sympathiser who is helping inflame racial tensions in Oxford.
‘Colours’ felt, to me at least, the least focused on the case of any episode this series – it is concerned more with character work and the political framework that Endeavour is building (although we had a week without Eddie Nero stuff – a comment about him laying low was the end of it). That’s not to say that the case was weak – it was typically strong, with a conclusion that felt earned without being a giveaway. I didn’t massively enjoy the apprehension of the criminal – I thought it was a tired device and one that was obvious about an hour earlier.
No, the focus was on our characters. For fans of Morse, there is something quite upsetting about his happiness with photographer Claudine (Claire Ganaye), seeing as we know it’s not going to last (although it does make for a nice pairing). Fancy and Trewlove appear to be getting a bit closer, and their chemistry is very sweet. We also boasted strong work by a number of the guest stars, Goodall as Lady Bayswater in particular – she brings nuance and conviction to a very hateable character, making her believable rather than a fascist caricature. There was also strong work from our soldier characters, Iain Pirie as Lt. Col. McDuff amongst them. There is a tendency in crime dramas to make soldier characters obstructive officious bureaucrats but, in ‘Colours,’ they felt developed and all-too human.
It’s the hints of the Thursday storyline that may have the biggest weight going forwards. It was good to see Bannon back as Sam, and Joan briefly crops up being arrested at an antiracism protest, but we may have larger ramifications at the head of the family. Win is pushing Fred to retire and, as I’ve mentioned in previous episode reviews, it seems his character has been taking a backseat this series. It would be a shame to lose Allam, because he’s always brilliant, but I fear that’s where we’re heading.
I could sing the praises of the production design and the sheer overall quality of ‘Colours,’ but I’d probably be becoming a bit of a broken record – Endeavour is so strong every week, and so good at balancing its individual elements, that even an episode that feels weaker in certain areas (the case) makes for a strong whole. I’m really intrigued to see where we head next – this fifth season is the first to boast more than four episodes, so we’ll be heading into unprecedented ground next week.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Two separate killings strike Oxford. The first, the brutal murder of an old security guard during a lorry hijacking, infuriates Thursday with the senseless level of violence involved. In response, a team from the robbery division arrives to help the force try to solve the case. Morse, meanwhile, is distracted by a missing person’s investigation that soon turns up a body – the woman, strangled to death by the train tracks, her shoes stolen. A mystery lover who claims to have known the dead woman under a different name is identified but, after several similarities emerge with the killing of a schoolgirl, Morse suspects that there may be more going on.
‘Passenger’ feels like an episode of two distinct halves – the first half is the main case, and it is classic Endeavour. Thursday encourages Morse to follow the leads because he wants to deny robbery his best man, and so he mainly solves this case. As always, I shall provide no spoilers, but the ending is once again incredibly satisfying (I never cease to be impressed with the clues in Endeavour – they are logical and realistic, but require some actual thought to figure out).
The second strand – the lorry hijacking – appears that it will shape things later on in the series. Fancy investigates the case with the two robbery detectives (led by DI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison, playing it suitably smarmy)), and receives a tiny bit of information from WPC Trewlove. He finds a low-level dealer of stolen supplies and arranges to buy some gear from him – the dealer is quickly and brutally killed, and it seems we may be building up to a clash of criminal gangs. We’ve already encountered Eddie Nero, but Thursday rapidly dismisses him as a suspect because of the level of gratuitous violence involved in the murders – add in the fact that Dr DeBryn states that killing is similar to that of one of Nero’s men last episode, and things are likely to start heating up.
A key element of ‘Passenger,’ and seemingly the fifth season of Endeavour, is the changing world. We’ve ended the past couple of episodes on radio reports of assassinations, and there seems to be a distinct clash between ideas and attitudes towards the world (aesthetically, too – compare the psychedelic tones of Marty Bedlow’s (Hadley Fraser) shop to the period trains and buses). This contrast is an underlying theme throughout the episode and the series thus far, and it will be interesting to see how it affects some of our characters – most notably, Superintendent Bright.
Bright is the subject of a key scene this episode. He clashes with Box in his office regarding some appalling sexist abuse of WPC Trewlove, and Box makes a slew of allegations about him and Trewlove (allegations of a nature that I’ve never seen hinted at since Blue Richards joined the show). Bright, rightly offended, orders Box to leave the station – Box responds by informing him that the future of policing will be results-driven, rather than caring particularly about the procedure. If this is something that we see pursued later on, I fear there may not be much of a place left for Bright, and that would be a shame given the quiet strength of Anton Lesser’s performance.
Shaun Evans always gets his own little moment to showcase his acting, and it once again connects to Joan Thursday. Here, she invites him to her housewarming, and they share a nice moment on the roof, but it seems that Morse is still unable to process his feelings for her. Unknowing, she sets him up with one of her friends, a French photographer called Claudine – he refuses the offer, but appears to bump into her on the street below. Perhaps there may be a bit more romance in the air for Morse this series? ‘Passenger’ was not perfect TV – more could have been done with the character of Cedric, the trainspotter, for example – but it was a typically strong and enjoyable episode of Endeavour. Even as the show is shifting into a darker time period, it stills proves itself to be relaxing Sunday evening viewing.
By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Time for a trip to the movies – this week’s Endeavour has a decidedly theatrical touch about it, with film stars and affectionate jabs at horror rocking up throughout the episode. It’s a typically strong outing, and includes more humour and the touch of both darkness and sadness that the show can do well.
Oxford plays host to a veteran film actor, star of an iconic horror movie about a murderous Egyptian mummy, who is in town to visit a local cinema. The death of a retired policeman turns out to be one of a series of murders linked to the film, which offers the newly-promoted DS Morse a fresh case to pursue, putting him up against a supposed curse and a haunted cartouche. Morse and DCI Thursday must also take on racists who have targeted Oxford’s Kenyan Asian population, and the chief inspector finds his hospitality put to the test when the family pays a visit.
Writer Russell Lewis is so good at putting together these stories – they are difficult to solve but never feel as though their solutions are unearned, and tonight is one such mystery. We head through a case that takes a few different tacks – the curse and an aggrieved Egyptian archaeologist, past arrests of the murdered policeman, the potential target being the film star – before leading to a surprisingly powerful conclusion (again, the killer is more sympathetic than you would expect). On the crime front, Eddie Nero also makes a reappearance – we’ll await the episode that sees him being taken down, and hope that this slow building is worth it.
On the emotion front, Thursday has a lot to do. His more jovial side comes out as he deals with his extended family, but Allam really succeeds in playing him as attempting to be stoic. He has two such scenes in this episode – dealing with his brother (Phil Daniels) asking for a loan, and a brief conversation with his daughter as he tries to reconcile his concern for her with his efforts not to meddle too much in her life – the relationship between the two that has been built up in previous series makes this disconnect all the more hard-hitting. Allam is always superb, but he is greater than superb in these moments.
As Morse, Evans has a bit more to do than usual because of a spark of romance – he spends a night with a young woman who turns out to be Thursday’s niece Carol (Emma Rigby), and is tasked with showing her around the city. A more caring side to him is shown, and seems all the more caring because it is contrasted with him still not being fond of DC Fancy. Fancy is shown here having a bit too much to drink on assignment, and questioning why he should bother being thorough when investigating what he believes is an obviously natural death – I get that we’re meant to think Morse is being a bit of a grump, but I find myself siding with him on this one. (There is also a degree of sadness for fans of Morse – young Morse laments the lonely death of the policeman, to be told by Thursday that the same won’t happen to him because he’ll ‘make better choices’ – tragically, we know this isn’t the case.)
I found some of the stuff on prejudice and racism to be a bit heavy-handed (if entirely accurate) – Bright (Anton Lesser) and Thursday discuss it in the former’s office and Bright gives off a little spiel about why hatred in any form is hatred. He’s not wrong, but it comes quite early on and just feels like it’s making a point – a point that, annoyingly, isn’t really returned to in the episode. The plot thread of the racist thugs is somewhat underdone, and it’s a shame given the strength of the rest of the episode.
‘Cartouche’ is a typically enjoyable Endeavour, and the film flourishes couple with 60s Oxford to make an episode that feels both glamorous and gripping. Bolstered by the usual strong performances and plot, Endeavour again proves why it is a highlight of Sunday night television.
By Phil Cunnington - Lancashire Post
After the President’s Club, and grid girls, and Harvey Weinstein, and equal pay at the BBC, it seems there is anational debate under way about male privilege, the abuse of power and the rights of women. So it’s seems right that one of the nation’s favourite dramas had something to say on the issue. The odd thing, however, is that it wasn’t Coronation Street, or Holby City, or EastEnders, it was ‘60s nostalgia fest Endeavour (ITV, Sundays, 8pm).
It’s get everything you would expect from a classy drama set in the swinging ’60s – chrome-bumpered cars, miniskirts, psychedelic happenings – but this week’s episode also had trenchant things to say about the sexual revolution and casual misogyny.
All of this was built around a finely-tooled whodunnit involving Faberge eggs, secret societies, and those staples of British drama, wealth, class and snobbery.
As a prequel to much-loved Inspector Morse, you can see how Shaun Evans’ grumpy young sergeant could develop into John Thaw’s grumpy old inspector, but it has a quicker pace than the earlier series, it’s sharper and more pointed. Roger Allam’s Inspector Thursday tells a suspect, one of the member of the secret society: “A bunch of middle-aged academics prancing around in pretty waistcoats calling each other daft names? I’ve got more time for the Tufty Club.”
So yes, you could enjoy Endeavour as a you might enjoy a mug of hot chocolate – a soothing balm for the troubled soul. But for me – and this is the first time I watched it – Endeavour is much more than that. It’s a con act, smuggling in important modern themes under a sheen of history.
By Angela Kelly - The Bolton News
SEQUELS to popular series are not unusual but it’s a rare pre-quel that catches viewers’ attention and is also a critical success.
Endeavour, though, is one of those rarities as Shaun Evans returns to Sunday evening screens as the young Morse, finding his way through Oxford City Police CID in the macho 1960s.
It’s a tribute to the acting talents of Evans and his boss, DI Fred Thursday (the always brilliant Roger Allam) that the series which began in 2012 is becoming as popular as John Thaw’s original Inspector Morse series of 1987 to 2000.
It’s actually easy to see young Morse as a completely separate individual with only some shared traits, a love of classical music and whisky being the notable ones.
John Thaw was a fine actor and he made the Colin Dexter character very much his own but it shouldn’t detract from the achievements of Shaun Evans who has an impressive stillness and depth about him that means he will be around for a very long time.