Endeavour Series Three – Quadruple the Pleasure

This is the third post of a series examining the pleasures of the various seasons of Endeavour, a fine crime drama series from the UK.

Series Two threw us off a cliff-hanger and Series Three opens to some mighty fine sulking and skulking by young Endeavour.

Episode 1: Ride – Directed by Sandra Goldbacher

The episode, say reviews, references Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Since I’ve not read the masterpiece, all I can say is that this did not detract from my enjoyment. Reviews also claim that the plot is too convoluted but, there too, I cannot agree.

Ride is an essential episode in the series. Neatly tying us to the present whilst tidying over loose ends from the fracas of Series Two’s finale. There is an air of magic – coin tricks and fairgrounds form the background here.

Synopsis from Wikipedia:

March 1967. Morse is disillusioned after spending time in prison following his last case, and even though he is exonerated, ponders his future with the police. Having relocated to an isolated lake front cottage, Morse is befriended by an unhappy millionaire and his friends. At a funfair on Cowley Green a young girl, Jeannie Hearne, is spirited away into the night, seemingly without explanation. When her body is found the next morning, Inspector Thursday investigates and discovers that Morse’s new friends are involved. When Morse’s millionaire friend is killed, but then appears the next day, Morse realises his future is as a detective and the solution lies at the funfair where Hearne went missing.

Ride also boasts several good pieces of period music:

“Puppet On A String” rings the right nostalgia bell.

Episode 2: Arcadia – Directed by Bryn Higgins

Race issues compound a formula laced with New Age commune philosophies and corporate heartlessness. Broken glass in baby food, and Rhodesian sugar pepper an episode that boasts several heart-stopping moments. Highlights include the entry of pretty Trewlove.

“She’s a woman in her mid- to late 20s in the ’60s who is joining the police force. She’s very, very bright and a really good-looking woman as well, but she’s not willing to use that. ” 

Shaun Evans in Endeavour’ Season 3 finds Morse ‘completely disenfranchised

The shows, Endeavour and Morse, both flaunt a fleet of such names: Strange, Thursday, June, Bright and so forth. One of the many bizarre high-brow charms of the show.

Synopsis by Margaux:

a cleverly constructed drama that stands on its own, with a nicely tied whodunnit that leaves you guessing till the end. Artist Simon Hallward is found dead in his burnt-out flat. His room is full of solvents and the police are quick to label the fire an accident, while Morse’s attention is drawn by the Teasmaid next to the victim’s bed. Hallward had dropped out of college to join a nearby commune. Suspicious, Morse and Thursday visit ‘House Beautiful’, run by the high-handed Gideon Finn (Max Bennett) and the spiritual Ayesha (Amelia Clarkson). Thursday takes an immediate and intense dislike to their lifestyle and worries what happens behind closed doors. “Free love?” he snipes, “In my experience, that’s the most expensive kind there is.

Thursday’s featured sandwich – his wife’s sandwiches are a staple in the show – has bloater paste and this is not all that’s fishy about it.

A song from the episode:

I’ve stuck to the pop genre as it’s apt to the time but an Endeavour always has fine pieces of classical music too, not to mention Barrington Pheloung’s marvellous oeuvre.

Episode 3: Prey – Directed by Lawrence Gough

Recently, I reviewed a wildlife book on another blog. When I was young, Disney hadn’t quite put the diapers on the concept and, thus, books about wildlife delighted in stories of maneaters. This episode brings back the good old fashioned thrill of the creature feature with, of course, all the elegance of any Endeavour show. Speaking of which, there are scenes in Prey that refer to both Jaws and Jurassic Park.

One of the show’s charms is that it is related to another series, Inspector Morse,  recently voted greatest British crime drama of all time. And to another Morse offshoot, Lewis. The three, mostly delightfully but sometimes annoyingly, keep referring to each other.

Unusually, a character from episodes of Lewis turns up in Endeavour and that is the father of James Hathaway, Philip Hathaway.

Endeavour: Connections to Morse and Lewis, Part 11. ‘Prey’ (S3E3)

This is one of my favourite episodes of the show!

Synopsis from Wikipedia:

Early June 1967. The missing persons case of Danish au pair Ingrid Hjort proves far from routine, pulling Endeavour into the duelling worlds of Oxford scientific academia, the city’s vast parks, as well as an urban legend said to haunt the untamed wilderness of the Oxfordshire countryside.

As usual the choice of music is brilliant:

Scarborough Fair is a signature of the times, apt to the ‘hippy’ vibes of the happy campers, one of whom will shortly disappear.

Episode 4: Coda – Directed by Oliver Blackburn

Another exciting season’s finale with Morse in the thick of things – in this case, a bank robbery.

This one is indeed nail-bitingly tense. Morse is writing an exam and his academic roots surface again as he is thrown into a case involving a man who used to be his professor at University. Meanwhile, a crime lord is being laid to rest, spawning lethal rivalries. Thursday is still coughing away but it’s more than ill health that’s pushing him out of the Police Force. Morse and he bare fangs at each and this is not all that snarls things up until you emerge unraveled at the superb denouement.

Synopsis from Wikipedia:

Mid June 1967. Gangland loyalties are tested when criminals vie to replace their dead boss Harry Rose. Police loyalties are tested when Fred Thursday is suspended for hitting an informant. Bank staff loyalties are tested where Joan Thursday works when armed robbers trap them along with Morse, who is there investigating a killing and payroll robbery. As hostages are taken, he and Joan try to conceal their identities. Morse realises he is part of someone else’s plan to conceal another crime.

Series Three has all the usual ingredients: crosswords and clues, Thursday and family, Abigail Thaw, and Endeavour’s doomed and gloomy love life.

Here’s a tune from Coda – it’s played during a fight scene where Thursday and Strange rough up some baddies in a bar, with Thursday coughing ominously:

I’ve finally managed to get my hands on a Colin Dexter, the author of the Morse books. Though he did not write the Endeavour stories, Colin Dexter loved the TV series and he’s appeared in most of them in charming cameos. Series Three has him in all the episodes but he has not been easy to spot. Spot the Colin is a worthy endeavour for show watchers!

We return soon with a post on Series Four – in the meanwhile, here’s a preview: