Endeavour’s Passenger – Passing Trains of Thought?

Viewers of the genre are always on the lookout for a good crime show. I know I am and it was that effort that led me to Endeavour.

Now, while this British show might be popular where it’s aired, many of us are forced to swallow an exclusive diet of our own creations or those from the US. Though the British once governed us, we have not shown them much partiality as TV shows go. It is a shame as that deprives us of some really well made shows.

Endeavour, fragrant with literary allusions, is set in Oxford, a very temple of erudition, and the show is deliciously well made. I can watch it again and again and gape and gawk at the sheer beauty of shots and locale. The acting is also really good. Of course, British English is quite hard for the Indian ear but it’s worth the endeavour.

CSI, Bones and Law and Order were all good shows and there must be good ones now, too. However, they more than narrowly miss being very very good. Unfortunately, we, in India, and much of the elsewhere, are subjected willy nilly to TV shows that are primarily from the US.

I hesitate to say ‘No harm done’ as any diet that does not include diversity is noxious, on the one hand. On the other, hardly any one can claim that TV shows from the US can be viewed as enriching!

I represent a small set of bloggers around the world who seek to bring home news of the delightful diversity of output from around the globe.

And so I continue my endeavour to invite you into the world of young Morse. Endeavour is a British crime show, a prequel to the popular Inspector Morse. The Morse show also sprouted a Lewis show but that’s another story.

Names are fancy in Endeavour. The main character is Endeavour. And then there’s Fred Thursday, Strange, Bright and Fancy!

Endeavour’s series five’s third episode, Passenger, opens to June 1968. Detective Constable Fancy is looking for Frances Porter. She was supposed to get on a train to Oxford but missed the last connecting one. Endeavour Morse finds her dead in a station that’s no longer used.

Now, in 1964, it’s reported, there was another murder and this one has things in common with that one. Is there a connection?

And we come to know that the dead woman was having an affair with a married man. In fact, shortly before her death, she was with him in a motel where she gave the name of her sister.

Then they find her co-worker’s body near an old railway track! The body count mounts as do the red herrings that pepper all episodes of Endeavour.

Alas, I doubt you’ll get to watch the series but I do hope you’ll enjoy the tracks from the episode. Endeavour always has good music from the period.

Young Morse visits the exotic boutique where the murdered Frances Porter worked and in the background plays a Cream number: Sunshine Of Your Love.

And when another girl at the boutique breaks down and weeps over the dead Frances and the boutique owner comforts her, we hear Liar, Liar by The Castaways.

At another point in the episode, Trewlove, the pretty lady constable, is sifting through records and the soundtrack plays Ba Ba Boom by The Jamaicans. And I just can’t get the videos from here on to the centre! WordPress! Argh!

And when Detective Chief Inspector Thursday and Morse visit the boutique to question the owner, and inform him that another employee is dead, Janis Joplin screams Piece of My Heart.

Now, Morse is sweet on Fred Thursday’s daughter, Joan, we already know, and when he comes to her house warming party, the The Rolling Stones are playing Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.

Here, we run out of steam with Keith & Tex playing Stop That Train when Thursday and Strange interrogate suspects.
Passenger is, as usual, written by the fabulous Russell Lewis, the backbone of the show and a master of allusion. The show is directed by Jim Field Smith. He’s directed She’s Out of My League which many may have seen.

Passenger is well made, with very pleasurable scenes and it has the regular features like the sandwiches Win, Thursday’s wife, makes for him – a different one for every day and they’re never tasty to him. Colin Dexter, the author of the detective books, stars in all the Morse related shows. Here, now that he is no more, his picture hangs on a wall – employee of the month.

What with all the pop music in the show, Passenger still strives for cultural highs. Early on we have a recitation of an Auden poem:

As sign off, I offer you a taste of what being an Endeavour fan entails  and two classical pieces which grace the episode. The show opens to a Vivaldi:

And for this trek through British railway history via a murder mystery, what can be better than Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata?

I sincerely hope you enjoy the music and, as for Passenger, I can only wish you chance upon Endeavour.


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Cartouche – Movies, Museum and Morse

cartouche is oval with, at one end, a horizontal line – an Egyptian inscription of royalty.  In the second episode of Endeavour’s fifth seasonDetective Sergeant Endeavour Morse deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphs and other clues.

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Egyptian cartouche – CC BY-SA 2.5

Cartouche opens to a film show at The Roxy. After watching The Pharaoh’s Curse, retired policeman, Ronald Beavis, goes home and is found dead in his bed by his landlady. There is alcohol in his room and the autopsy shows that his heart and liver are damaged. Death by natural causes? 

But toxicology shows that strychnine, in orange squash, killed him. Endeavour finds a cinema ticket in the dead man’s possessions. Beavis had the squash at the Roxy. 

Endeavour heads for the movie hall and discovers that it is struggling to survive. Gangsters are threatening the movie hall’s café owner. And one of the gang is killed while leaving the café.

Investigations reveal that the deceased Beavis worked for an Egyptian archaeologist, Dr Shoukry, at the nearby Pitt Rivers Museum. Shoukry, passionate about preserving his ancient heritage, does not like the British.

To compound matters, there are arson attacks on Kenyan Asians – Indians. Detective Inspector Fred Thursday and Chief Superintendent Bright are tense about rising racial tensions. 

A brick is thrown at the glass window of a public advice centre, where Asians flock for help. DI Thursday’s daughter, Joan, works there. Endeavour has a crush on her but has never declared his love. She is fond of him. However, she will not give her heart to a policeman, seeing how life is with a Detective Inspector father. 

Previously, on the show, Joan left home, feeling responsible for endangering her father. When she was hostage at a bank robbery, Thursday almost shot the gangster involved. Fred Thursday gets violent when it is a question of Joan.

Father and daughter are never on good terms. But, when she left home, Thursday grew bitter and withdrawn and her mother broke down.

 Now she’s back. And Endeavour meets her when looking into the brick throwing incident at the advice centre. Will romance blossom? 

When the detectives reflect on Beavis, dead “with only a bottle for company“, Endeavour looks worried. Thursday, almost father figure to young Endeavour, is reassuring:

You’ll make better choices.

However, we know better!  Inspector Morse, Endeavour in the future, is a bachelor. Things can’t get too promising. As Dr. Shoukry puts it, perhaps that’s possible 

In the afterlife.

And, as Thursday retorts:

That’s beyond our jurisdiction.

But, let’s return to Endeavour’s love life. Early in Cartouche, he meets a pretty young girl.

And the next thing we know is that she’s leaving the flat he shares with Detective Sergeant Strange and newcomer Fancy. Well, we say to ourselves, the boy’s getting over his shyness with the ladies and turning into the ladies man that Detective Inspector Morse is. Only this is not just any lady! It’s Joan’s cousin. And Morse is asked to show her around town! 

Since the girl has no interest in the fine academic buildings of Oxford, Endeavour takes her to the Roxy. She’s thrilled as many film stars are there. Including the famous Emil Valdemar. 

It’s a grand event and The Roxy wants to gift Valdemar a watch as appreciation. However, the gift box has an Egyptian cartouche! And the old actor fears the curses associated with robbing pyramids.

All hell breaks loose as the Egyptian archaeologist, also present, protests – the cartouche was taken from his museum. And Endeavour spots a major gangster among the guests.  Now, there’s a third corpse as the movie hall organist drops dead after a drink. The mystery grows until it crescendos to a grand flaming finale – a tribute to the epic films of yore.

Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour, also plays an actor in one of the films shown in the show. All the actors, regulars and new, do a splendid job of it.

Most Endeavour, Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis episodes are written by Russell Lewis. It is he who brings in the many literary and other enriching references that make Endeavour so pleasurable. To know more, Meet Endeavour writer Russell Lewis: a real man of mystery.

The dialogues are rich and pithy. Making a parallel between anthropologists and detectives, Dr Shoukry says they are both

keepers of the dead.

Cartouche is directed by Andy Wilson who has a decent line of productions to his credit. Here’s a trailer for his  Ripper Street.

This blog has followed a British drama for some posts now. A police show. So, what’s new? Don’t we have many police serials in India?

Yes, we do. But most are badly made, full of stomach churning brutality by cops or villains. 

Endeavour is not just about crime and punishment. Episodes cover the routine circumstances of the police station and the historical forces acting on such units.

Endeavour is based on the main character in a series of novels written by Colin Dexter. The author was very much an academic. So it is natural that the setting is Oxford, a university town.

Colin Dexter loved crosswords as much as his detective does.

Dexter created Morse and, in time, Inspector Morse became a TV show.

Then followed a series called Inspector Lewis, based on Morse’s assistant. 

And, eventually, a prequel to Morse was born, the marvellous Endeavour!

Endeavour rests on a network of references. And one ends up watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis as well. In the next post, we continue to journey through Endeavour episodes with The Passenger

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Endeavour’s Muse – A Fancy Egg Scrambles Lives

Fabergé eggs are costly bejeweled creations, made for Russian royalty in the late nineteenth century. 

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Twelve Monograms, 1895 Fabergé Easter Egg

April 1968. The first episode of Endeavour’s Series Five opens to a briefing about a Fabergé egg. Nastya’s egg, Innocence, is to be displayed at the Oxford University. Nastya or Anastasia was one of the daughters of the then Russian Tsar.

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Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna – Public Domain

She was just seventeen when the whole family was wiped out but many of their treasures continue to surface and attract auctions. The episode begins with the solemn notes of Mendelssohn’s oratorio based on Elijah.  Elijah is a prophet in the Bible.

Meanwhile, somewhere, a man is painting a woman in the nude. Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse feels that the artist is seeking to recreate a famous work of art.

And, somewhere else,  a man is murdered. Detective Inspector Fred Thursday identifies him as a boxer and petty criminal. And, in the murdered man’s apartment, the police find “contact mags” – publications with phone numbers for sex workers.

Endeavour is a series which boasts some fine music and what is more fitting for sexual scandals than Verdi‘s La Traviata, the tragic tale of a noble minded young man’s love for a high class prostitute.

One such lady was the last to see the murdered man alive, before he was found in his taxi, with bullets in his chest and a spike in his ear.

In the meanwhile, a masked someone, it is suspected, is trying to rob the fabulous egg. Is it “The Shadow”? This burglar is known to leave a red rose as signature.

Now, there is another corpse, stabbed in the eyes with a steak knife. And he has lipstick – the same type that the police found in the car of the first corpse.  It’s time to look for a deadly female!

Could it be Eve, the lady in the white raincoat seen leaving his place? Eve has been posing for the artist.

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Wally Gobetz Paris – Musée d’Orsay: Manet’s Olympia

Elsewhere, women take telephone messages – somewhat like today’s call centres. And one of these women is a friend of Eve’s. Long ago, they were raped. Are the murders revenge?

Precious eggs, pretty women, lecherous academics, boxers, gangsters all come together in Muse. While I’ll admit that getting hold of Endeavour might cost you an arm and a leg, it’s a worthy investment for an entertainer that’s worth every shot.

Shirley Bassey’s Big Spender is played when Eve does the Dance of the Seven Veils, a term which has come to mean something less exotic and more in the nature of synonym for strip tease.

In the midst of all this, the police force is being restructured. A very unsettling time, as it is, for our protagonists, British detectives based in the academic Oxford.

As for Joan, on whom Morse has a crush, it does not look like they get to spend the night together, even in this episode.

Muse continues the fine tradition of providing the viewer with aesthetic pleasure and of opening the mind to diverse snippets of interest. When a book or show does this, it serves one of the greatest functions of communication – that of being enriching. Muse also has a piece from Erik Satie, a fascinating cerebral composer.

As usual, this episode is also written by Russell Lewis. Lewis has written almost all of Endeavour and most of the Morse and Lewis shows as well. The award winning screen writer has also directed Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse for British television.

Muse is directed by Brady Hood whose Sweet Maddie Stone won for Best Short at the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival 2017.

To wrap up this glance at the first episode of Series 5, watch a trailer for the whole season:


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Endeavour’s Fourth Series Finale – A Pagan Harvest

Long before Christianity came to the British Isles, people there were pagans, who performed strange rituals and celebrated the autumnal equinox.

Harvest, the finale of the fourth season of Endeavour, a classy British detective show, opens with black and white shots of a car. The car swerves to avoid a lorry and we swerve to another time. It’s September 1967 and a skeleton is unearthed at an archaeological site in a marshy place near Oxford.

Detective Inspector Fred Thursday and Detective Constable Endeavour Morse leave Oxford to investigate the discovery. Is the skeleton Matthew Laxman, wonders Thursday. The botanist was last seen in that area in the autumn of 1962.

However, Dr DeBryn, the witty pathologist, certifies that the corpse was ritually sacrificed. Just as the team is brushing off this bitter ‘harvest’, Endeavour sees glasses near the bones. Were they Laxman’s?

Alison, the botanist’s wife,  says they might be Laxman’s. And she mentions a friend of his, physicist Donald Bagley. The two were part of a protest against Bramford B, a nearby nuclear plant.

Once upon a time, Bagley supported using atomic energy. However, after his wife died of leukaemia due to radiation, he turned against it. Bagley has teamed up with a street preacher to protest against the plant. The preacher, it so happens, was the last person to see Laxman.

Morse also meets an American living in the village. Her husband is employed at the nuclear plant. Morse is suspicious as the man is not straightforward about whether or not he was in the UK when Laxman vanished.

Morse and Thursday find it hard to visit the plant until a journalist helps Morse sneak in to speak to the manager.  The man scoffs at the fears of villagers about  safety.

At the nearby village, no one volunteers any new information. Not even clairvoyant Dowsabelle Chattox, whose home will be flooded to expand the plant. Sheila Hancock, who plays the woman, is, in real life, the step mother of Abigail Thaw, who plays the journalist, and who is, actually, the daughter of John Thaw, the actor who does Morse in the main series where Endeavour has attained inspectordom. As clairvoyant, she brings out the witch-like character of an old woman with supernatural vision.

The soothsayer’s son is creepily interested in Selina Berger, who claims to have spotted Laxman’s car near the plant. In fact, her sinister brother, a doctor, works there.

Finally, a village scarecrow is discovered sporting Laxman’s jacket. The villagers acknowledge that Laxman had come there to visit the power station.

Endeavour’s flat is ransacked. Looking into the matter, Detective Inspector Thursday finds a photo of Joan, his daughter, in Morse’s flat. In the finale of Series Three, she left home, fearing that she would always bring danger to her father. Thursday had come to her rescue when she was held hostage, along with others, including Endeavour, during a violent bank robbery.

With Joan gone, her mother, Win, slips into brooding. The relationship between the parents is filled with painful silence. It is as if their daughter is punishing them. Have they been too controlling? Win whines that, though they are detectives, neither Thursday nor Morse have located Joan.

Detective Inspector Thursday finds an address on the photo he took from the room of Detective Constable Morse. And he goes to Joan. He soon gathers that she is having an affair with a married man who has children. He, naturally, tries to make Joan change her mind but the lover enters the room at that point and tells Thursday to go.

Thursday catches the man outside and beats him up to stop him seeing Joan. Some good does come of it all, however. When DI Thursday gets home, he finds his wife bursting with joy because Joan called to say she was alright and promised to call again.

Later Joan goes to Morse. He notices that she has been beaten but she says she deserved it. She thinks it was because she got pregnant. Morse proposes.

On the one hand, Harvest has cutting edge modernity – a nuclear plant – and, on the other, there are villagers doing ancient dances and preparing for primitive ceremonies.

Government cover-ups are suggested and, with Endevaour’s standing up to corruption in the police force, Harvest pits Endeavour Morse against unseen and powerful forces.

The story is full of red herrings – who killed Laxman? The villagers for some autumnal sacrifice? The government to hush up something about the nuclear plant? After taking us for many a merry wild goose chase, the episode presents us with a twist in the tail.

As usual, besides red herrings, the show has a fine blend of music. As with everything about the show, it is a feast for the senses and an education in refinement.

And to balance that classical piece, there’s a typical number from the sixties.

Harvest, as with all Endeavour episodes so far, was written by Russell Lewis.
Each episode usually has a different director and  this one is directed by  Jim Loach whose  2018 Measure of a Man is a comedy about bullying.

With this post, we wrap up Series Four. The fifth one is outstanding so hold your breath till the next post!

Endeavour – The Sixties, Sex and Drugs – Series Four’s Canticle

A canticle is usually sung in a church. And a typical canticle of the Sixties sings us into the story. This episode of Endeavour, a very stylish crime drama from the UK, opens with rainbow colours.

The story intercuts to a very religious elderly widow, Pettybon. She is part of the National Clean Up Television Society, the Keep Britain Decent campaign, and considers herself the guardian of national morals. In other words, she is like many Indian ‘aunties’. She finds pop music and everything on TV disgusting. Yet she watches TV avidly to identify all the ‘bad’ words used: bloody and so on. She and her supporters hold morality rallies.

As it so happens, The Wildwood, a pop group, is rehearsing nearby.  Detective Constable Endeavour Morse meets the members of the group: brothers Nick and Kenneth Wilding, Clark, Lee “Stix” Noble and a bunch of female groupies. Where there’s a pop group, there are often female fans who are very loyal.

Endeavour is there to investigate reports of marijuana use. As we shall soon find out, marijuana is the least of the headaches that DC Morse will have to tackle.

Endeavour, in his suit, sticks out like a sore thumb in contrast to the pop group where everybody is either dressed psychedelically or is popping LSD and the like. He does not belong with the moralists either.

However, young Morse has to babysit Pettybon as she is being threatened for her views. A rather irritating task when there is a death to be investigated. A labourer, Barry Finch, associated with the pop group, has been strangled.

Instead of investigating the death, Morse has to accompany Pettybon and team who are to appear on a TV show. The sequences have some splendid music from a Sixties icon:

The pop group is also there and Joy Pettybon attacks Jennifer Sometimes, their latest song.  It has too much S-E-X as she puts it.

To make matters worse, Dudley Jessop, a gay activist disrupts Pettybon’s TV appearance. DC Morse has  to step in to save the newspaper man from her supporters.

And soon Reverend Golightly, Pettybon’s side-kick, also dies in a suspicious manner. He has been poisoned! He ate chocolates that were sent to Pettybon.

Could this be Jessop’s work? Jessop’s magazine had to close down as a result of Pettybon’s battle against him for being gay.

To make things merrier, Pettybon has a daughter, Bettina, who can’t seem to keep her hands off men. Outwardly a mouse, behind her mother’s back, in her own room, she smokes and drinks. Morse has to fight tooth and claw to keep safe from her advances when he innocently accepts her invitation for a drink.

He learns that Pettybon’s husband, Bettina’s father, killed himself when he was about to be prosecuted for being gay.

A symptom of the times? The Sixties are known for sexual liberation and Canticle pumps up the issue with helpings of free love between the pop group.

Nick of the pop group has slept with groupies, Emma and Pippa, and is upset at Barry Finch’s death.

And Barry Finch was killed during a sexual experiment between three people. The group’s manager shifted the body to save the group from police pestering.

The Sixties were also all about ‘opening the doors of perception’ – ideas written about by Aldous Huxley. Drugs are consumed and the show makes the point about the danger of it all.

Endeavour has his doors opened for him when one of the group’s groupies, Emma, spikes his drink. She is jealous that Nick and Clark are lovers. Her emotions reach a point of no return and she gives Morse a drink with a lethal dose of LSD. Morse, of course, loves his drinks but hates drugs. Luckily, Detective Sargent Strange and Detective Inspector Thursday rescue him in the nick of time and he is very cute as a convalescent. He’s really been led up the garden path by all the liberated ladies in this episode!

Besides Bettina and her seductions and Emma and her special beverages, Endeavour has had to see the groupie girls sunbathing. Yet, he never feels free with any of them.

The story also lingers over the continuing sorrow of Detective Inspector Thursday and his wife about the disappearance of their daughter, Joan.

Fred Thursday feels responsible for his daughter’s leaving home. This is evident when he warns Pettybon that if her daughter leaves, she may not come back. His cynicism is rising making him feel angry with pop groups and all the things that he blames for making his daughter leave.

Like other Endeavour episodes, Canticle also boasts some fine classical music. As opposed to a canticle, a requiem is for mourning. And there is much to mourn for many in Morse.

Morse is still sulking at his failure in the police exam and he is always delightful in this mood. His brush with death by LSD brings us a tender scene between him and Thursday. Though Thursday has his own son, as well as a daughter, he seems fatherly only towards Endeavour and that too is very strained and stiff.

Canticle is about hiding feelings, about public masks and private lives. As Pettybon’s daughter tells her:

You’re not kind. You’re wicked. And godless!

If we have any doubts about which way the show’s makers hang, Thursday’s quiet reminder to Bright is that evil is as old as humans.

The show also has the usual ingredients – other characters and regular features. Woman Police Constable Trewlove is as clever and pretty as ever. Detective Sargent Strange continues to please as does the witty pathologist Max DeBryn.

Colin Dexter, the author of the detective novels upon which Endeavour is based, would regularly appear on the shows. As he aged and after his death, he appears as photos. In this episode, he shows up in the top right-hand corner of a newspaper.

Canticle continues with the ending we have come to expect where a shadowy figure lays out tarot cards – a clue about the episode that follows? In this case, it was Lovers. Does that spell romance for Endeavour? We can’t be sure of that to go by his thoughts on the matter.

Jessop: How can love be dirty?
Morse: Well, if it isn’t, I expect you aren’t doing it right. 

And, while that may be true of Morse and love, director Michael Lennox, with many fine films to his credit, does right by Canticle .

I have to apologise for a lapse on my part and what ought to follow Canticle precedes it. So our next post jumps to Harvest – troubles bubble and brew amidst ancient village rituals in the season’s finale.

 

Raising Cain, not Lazarus – Endeavour’s Lazaretto 

Lazaretto opens into a hospital with a shot of what looks like an operating table in the limelight. Cut to earphones – a patient is listening to music. The scene shifts to show us an in-house radio station for the hospital, run by a bespectacled young man, a volunteer librarian at the hospital, we later learn. The opening sequence shifts to a nurse tying a tag on a patient’s toe – a sure sign he’s dead. And the corpse is wheeled to the mortuary in a set of shots that scream creepy.

A ‘lazaretto’ was where sailors were quarantined to control cholera or plague outbreaks on ships.  Infected as well as healthy but suspected cases were lodged together in cramped quarters. A death sentence from which there was no escape, sometimes.

This episode of the British crime series, Endeavour, is set in a hospital. Bed 10, at Cowley General Hospital, is a death sentence. On this bed, in Fosdick Ward, three patients have died in the past five weeks. Even the chief surgeon finds it fishy as most of those patients were recovering well.

As luck will have it, a certain Terence Bakewell is brought to the hospital. This man was part of a bank robber gang. He decided to turn informant against the gang and was safely in prison. However, in the hospital, the gang might find a way to kill him for his betrayal. Detective Inspector Thursday is anxious and Detective Constable Morse and other detectives play bodyguard.

Now, we know that Bed 10 is fatal to its occupants and we groan when Bakewell is put there. And in handcuffs …  As it happens, a gossipy patient, Mr. Talbot, has things to tell Morse about Bed 10.

The bank robbery in question was the shattering climax of Series Two. Joan, DI Thursday’s daughter, was in the bank when it happened and ran away from home, soon after, blaming herself for endangering her policeman father who had bravely but recklessly confronted the gangsters.

So, Thursday is quite justifiably tense about the prisoner in the hospital. To make things merrier, Chief Superintendent Bright is also hospitalised for an ulcer. Thursday, with enough on his plate, now has to play boss, a role he’s not happy with as it prevents him from focusing on protecting the informant.

Meanwhile, Morse is called to look into what seems like an accidental death. An old lady, a Mrs Zacharides, is found lying dead in her house, surrounded by strewn papers and belongings. A seizure or foul play?

Nothing links her to the hospital until her daughter mentions that her husband died in Bed 10, months back. Mrs Zacharides suspected hospital staff of stealing his things. And she made such a fuss that she was not allowed into the hospital. The daughter mentions that her mother had got a letter from someone at the hospital and was expecting that person on the day she died but there is no sign of the letter.

At the hospital, the list of suspects mounts as does the body count. Sister Clodagh McMahon exchanges conspiratorial glances with Dean Powell, the surgeon who is locking horns with the chief surgeon, Sir Merlyn Chubb. Powell and staff feel that Chubb is messing up as his hands shake a lot – a bad thing in a surgeon. Morse decides to investigate. Nestling, in the bouquet of clues, are the white sweet pea flowers placed on Bed 10 after each death.

Typically, in an Endeavour episode, the closing credits carry a hidden message – in this case, the name of Henry Eckford, the Scottish horticulturalist who bred the flower.

Sweet_Pea-4
Aftabbanoori, CC BY-SA 3.0

Endeavour is based on another British crime show, Morse.

Who is Morse? He’s Endeavour in the later years. After the success of the series and of an offshoot, Lewis, Endeavour was made to delight us with the adventures of a younger Morse. We can see most of the signs characteristic of the older man in Endeavour: a fondness for drink and Wagner’s music.

Morse and offshoots are created from the novels of Colin Dexter.

Colin_Dexter (1)
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use

Until recently, Colin would put in an appearance in all the shows. In this episode he’s there as a caricature, in a picture on the hospital wall. The delight of fans is to spot him in the shows.

Endeavour Morse shares some of the author’s tastes. Besides Wagner’s music, he is fond of crosswords. Indeed, solving a murder mystery involves chasing clues. And Morse minds all kinds of disparate clues to tackle the complexity of crime. The show itself regularly sports a clue in the credits. Here, it was the name of the famous flower breeder.

However, life is not a bed of roses for Morse. Unlike the author, who seems to have had a happy married life, Endeavour has a weakness where it comes to women, and a part of the enjoyment of the show is his love life. Lazaretto is studded with Morse’s women. The one he once loved and lost. His nurse neighbour with whom he’s had a fling. And Joan with whom he’s secretly smitten, and who appears merely fond of him. It’s been weeks since she left home.

In this episode, Morse tracks her down but cannot persuade her to return. She, on the other hand, extracts a promise from him not to tell her parents anything. What is worse is that, as he leaves, he sees a man about to visit her. A man who’s taking off his wedding ring … The sequence has a memorable moment where Morse and Joan’s passion for each other simmers big time.

Joan has come between DI Thursday and DC Morse. Thursday is like a father figure for the reclusive Morse but, of late, sparks are flying between them. Morse can’t stomach Thursday’s penchant for violence.

Thursday’s plate is full with playing boss till Bright is better, trying to protect the informant, agonising over his daughter’s disappearance. He is also distraught about Win, his wife – she’s sinking into a depression. She hasn’t even made him his lunch sandwiches which marked the days of the week in earlier episodes. Fred Thursday appears no longer capable of living up to her words in Coda:

Fred will sort it. He always does.

Both Thursday and Endeavour are learning to get along without love.

One of the many charms of Endeavour, Morse and Lewis is that they are all interrelated. In Lazaretto, the mother of Susan, whom Morse once loved, bumps into him at the hospital. The mother’s character – played by another actress – also appears in an episode of Morse. It is these little things which create fertile feeding grounds for fans.

Another such interpolation is a thriller in the hospital library, authored by Kent Finn. The fictional novelist had appeared in an earlier episode, Game.

Endeavour, like actor Shaun Evans, who plays him, is from a humble background – a fact of significance in the Britain of those days where aristocrats still commanded some respect. To add fuel to that fire, he is agnostic with a sharp brain, rich with classical education. And yet it’s a struggle for him in the career. He has stood up to authority and pays the price. Though he’s bitter, his stance and brilliance are beginning to win him the respect of colleagues and even that of the bigot, Police Chief Superintendent Bright.

Director Börkur Sigþórsson of Trapped brings legendary Icelandic skills to the task, lending stylish doom and gloom to this British drama.

Russel Lewis writes almost all the Morse and Morse offshoots and tends to enjoy referencing, especially from the world of cinema. Lazaretto’s lugubriousness is nicely balanced by with a gentle throwback to the hilarious Carry On‘s Doctor series which are ripe with nurse-doctor romances.

The episode wraps up with a shot with which we have become familiar: a pair of gnarled old hands dealing out tarot cards. A clue to the episode that follows?

Or just one of the many red herrings that garnish the show, like the talking parrot who can only squawk

Evil Old Cow

With each episode, and even on a second watching, my respect for everyone involved in the making of Endeavour grows. Nasir Hamid has a fine photo piece on the shooting of the episode.

My endeavour is to get the show aired in India for it will surely be better inspiration than the stuff we routinely get from the US.

Endeavour’s Opening Gambit for Season Four – Game

Chess, a nerdy game, is much less in the news now than it was at the height of the Cold War between the erstwhile Soviet Union and the US. The first episode of Endeavour, a cerebral crime drama from the UK, involves chess. And computers.

Things get high tech as Endeavour returns for a fourth season. With gigantic computers of yore, chess and a psychopath, we’re soon fed into the Morse system.

Morse is a character from a detective novel series by Colin Dexter. And Endeavour is the younger Morse, before he became Inspector. Morse and Endeavour and another show, Lewis, are interrelated. And it’s a miracle how they’ve kept it all together, making each individual drama complete in itself and yet connected to many other things.

The episode begins with a delightful piece by Erik Satie, played on a fascinating instrument, the Cristal Baschet. Good classical music, as well as signature tunes from the Sixties lend majesty and add to the pleasure of this aesthetically pleasing show.

Swimming pool scenes float in to the music. And the drama officially begins as a corpse is discovered. This one is fished out of a river with a pocketful of stones. A suicide, we presume. The deceased was a scientist. Part of a team of super nerds headed by a man in a wheelchair, Professor Amory. The professor’s beautiful daughter is around too. Did love for her drive Dr Nielsen to kill himself?

The team is working on a computer. For us, the sight of the Joint Computing  Nexus brings a smile. However, Jason, the gigantic computer in the episode, is an awesome beast and we learn that Jason will be playing chess against a Soviet champ.

However, soon, there is another death by drowning. At the local swimming pool/public baths this time. What’s more odd, the lady had a bath at home and, so, why would she have used the public one?

Frederick_Street_wash_house
Built in 1842, this was the first public wash house in Britain. Public Domain

What is even more puzzling is that there’s something in her nose and ears. And then there’s another death at the baths. Morse suspects foul play. He finds that all three victims played chess and he turns his gaze onto the scientists. However, Detective Inspector Thursday and others think he’s making something out of nothing.

Clues begin to surface and it’s pretty Trewlove who discovers that the mysterious combinations of letters and numbers, on the bath closets, are, in fact, chess moves.

988px-Dakota_Blue_Richards_portrait,_2012_(tone_crop)
Dakota Blue Richards by Jack Alexander, CC BY-SA 3.0

Meanwhile, tension is brewing between DC Morse and DI Thursday, especially after Joan, Thursday’s daughter, left home. Morse has more to be morose about than the loss of the woman for whom he secretly hankers. He has failed to pass the Sergeant’s exam, only because his paper got lost.

Morse has ruffled important feathers and that’s possibly why his paper flew away.

More aggravating is a pretty and driven young journalist who keeps popping up. She gets Morse to exchange information with her and, though he’s cautious and aware that he should not give away too much, the lady light fingers a vital notebook out of his pocket. And there’s hell to pay, naturally.

Talking of journalists, the daughter of the actor who plays the older Morse in the series by that name, stars as one in Endeavour. She has a soft spot for the Detective Constable and it is on the wall of her office that we see a picture of author Colin.

His appearance was a must in all the shows and, as age made personal presence hard, we now find him hanging on walls, in a frame. Once upon a time, it was the mighty Hitchcock who would thus insert himself into his films.

Jason, the gigantic computer, joins the fray to generate a list of possible suspects. And, turn by turn, these emerge out of the woodwork, including a crime fiction writer, Kent Finn, whose latest novel seems to mirror the murders. And whose walls are adorned by death masks.

L'inconnue_de_la_Seine_(masque_mortuaire)
L’Inconnue de la Seine, Public Domain

One mask, recorded the face of an unidentified young woman who, around the age of sixteen, … had been found drowned in the Seine River …, France around the late 1880s. A morgue worker made a cast of her face, saying “Her beauty was breathtaking, and showed few signs of distress at the time of passing. So bewitching that I knew beauty as such must be preserved.” … In the following years, copies of the mask became a fashionable fixture in Parisian Bohemian society.

Wikipedia

Written, as usual, by the fabulous Russel Lewis, this episode, like the others, strews the drama with references. Most of them go over the head for those who are not of the UK. But it would be interesting to see how one could do such a thing in an Indian TV drama, making references to film classics. It would be engaging as the audience eagerly looks for and unravels these delightful little nothings.

Game is directed by Ashley Pearce who has quite a few other series to his credit, including some of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

The Series boasts high fandom and morseandlewisandendeavour.com has a very thorough piece on Game.

Endeavour is a major delight for fans of the Sixties and the costumes and settings bring the decade delightfully to life. While many today may not have heard of Woodstock, the name will ring nostalgic bells for many around the world. The song, below, is played in a scene with Jason and his caretakers.