More Morse? Endeavour – Series One

Here in India, and, by extension, perhaps in many other regions of the world, we’re not exposed to a decent variety of TV shows from the UK, as opposed to from the US – Australia and Canada are next in frequency of being featured. Europe, in general, is denied a fair representation and the case is worse with the remaining continents. There are broad regional preferences, of course. Each nation will tend to favour itself and immediate neighbours besides the US/Australia/Canada. Thus, Malaysia had a greater selection from China, Japan and Korea not to mention others. Truth to tell, much more regional variety than is to be found in India.

In my TV viewing years, I recall some comedies such as Fawlty Towers from the UK but not much else and I’m pretty certain there has not been an increase in the years since I forsook TV. Frankly, for Indians, though we have a large number of people who claim to be ‘native’ speakers, “my good self” included, it is harder to comprehend the ‘Queen’s’ English than it is to make head or tail of a US accent. Subtitles are as much in order as would be the case for a Japanese TV show in India. And yet Endeavour will not need to strive to engross. It’s that good.

For the anglophile, out of the closet or not, Endeavour will be a delicacy. It is, indeed, a gourmet treat with its tendency to be laced liberally with literary and other rich cultural references. While the visuals enchant the eye and frequently bring classical painters to mind, besides Morse’s own love for opera, the music of such as Wagner not only graces the audio track but forms an integral part of some plots.

While I definitely hope to make my readers watch it and get hooked, it’s also my pleasure to provide die-hard fans, like myself, resources to fan the fandom flame.

With each post about each series, the endeavour will be to offer the best fan sites and, perhaps, glimpses into their individual focuses. Today, it’s a list of things about Endeavour that are

Good to Know

  1. It’s always Thursday on Endeavour. Actor Roger Allam, Inspector Thursday, is one of the main characters in the Endeavour series. Initially, he’s the only one who appears to appreciate Morse’s talents – a quick reminder that Morse’s first name is Endeavour.  For more such fascinating detail, visit Allam’s Inspector Morse Fact File.

Thursday has a wife, daughter and son and his family life forms a good deal of the regular drama on most episodes.

More importantly, the actor has a wonderful page of episode summaries on his site.

2. The author of the Morse novels almost always appears in the shows, Hitchcock style.

Colin Dexter makes his appearance at 42 minutes and 40 seconds in the dining hall.

Endeavour S01 E01 ‘Girl’: Review, Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc.

3. The daughter of the actor who plays Morse in the original series is a staple on Endeavour.

Played by John Thaw’s daughter Abigail, the character’s name of ‘D. Frazil’ is actually a bit of a crossword clue of the type Morse was very fond of. Frazil is a type of ice, so “de-ice” is to Thaw.

Endeavour’s continued tip of the hat to Morse is a fitting tribute to its’ predecessor

Those were some of the regular features. Now for the fun part!

Series 1 – Trailers

Girl: Episode 1. Directed by Edward Bazalgette and written by Russell Lewis

While everyone in Oxford appears to be dolling up for a night out, Endeavour is preparing to settle in with his copy of Moriarty’s Police Law. This book is a real thing—“An Arrangement of Law and Regulations for the Use of Police Officers”—that a young officer would have studied to pass his exam for promotion. That it’s called Moriarty’s is just a happy coincidence considering that Endeavour Morse will do the full Sherlock about 23 minutes into the episode…

But first, a corpse:

Margaret Bell, age 20, is found dead of an apparent heart attack. Seeing Margaret fit and fine just a few moments earlier, we have no reason to believe a heart attack was her actual cause of death, and her G.P. confirms as much shortly after. She did have a weak heart, but if she’d been taking her medication she shouldn’t have suffered a heart attack. The doctor has questions, and now so does Morse.

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Fugue: Episode 2.  Directed by Tom Vaughan and written by Russell Lewis

… of course it is focused on music. Morse and music go together better than bacon and eggs. The episode opens with choral singers, specifically Morse, who has been spotted by the local newspaper as he leaves a concert he performed in.

As ever, we settle back into the pattern of seeing all of the puzzle pieces in the opening interspersed with the credits. Pieces, players, games. This plot rotates completely around Morse but the mystery beneath it all is fascinating without that. A serial killer is working his way through Oxford using the deaths in operas as a means of killing his victims. The killer leaves clues for Morse, taunting him, and eventually stabbing him as he leads Morse a merry chase. Meanwhile there is a traitor in the camp and every one we see seems to be tied back to a musical theme.

Endeavour S01 E02 ‘Fugue’: Review, Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc. pampers you with spoilers – no true fan is immune to such blandishments.

With a name like Fugue, how can reviews not rave about the music?

Before we get to Barrington Pheloung’s spine tingling theme tune at the end, this week’s episode served up an impressive body count, more than a liberal sprinkling of Oxford’s dreaming spires and another intricate and compelling storyline. As if to punctuate the point further even the climax is fittingly set among these very spires. The plot is driven by a medley of soprano duets, arias and sonatas which proves a mesmerising cocktail.

Endeavour’s skills are tested to the limit

archiveofourown.org has a tongue-in-cheek go at the episode. Quite entertaining even if you’re yet to watch the story.

Locales, we have mentioned in a previous post, are one of the many charms of Endeavour – you seriously want to buy a ticket to the UK after catching an Endeavour or two. As you see below, someone has beaten me to it!

I’ve compiled the various answers I received here for anyone else who might be interested in doing their own mini-Endeavour locations tour:

1) Magdalen College, bridge over to Addison’s Walk

2) Radcliffe Square or St Mary’s Passage by the Radcliffe Camera (possibly the same place!)

3) Queen’s Lane, by the back gate of New College

4) Possibly the side of Jesus College, opposite one of the exits to the Covered Market

5) Roof of Trinity College chapel

6) Broad Street or Turn off High St down King Edward St, this is between Christchurch & Oriel College (again, possibly the same place)

7) Merton College

8) Merton St, outside Merton College or Logic Street

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Rocket: Episode 3. Directed by Craig Viveiros and written by Russell Lewis

This might be my personal favourite of the series.

the Queen is visiting a local missile factory, to aid relations with the Arabs, who are thought to want to place an order for 36 weapons. It’s a suitably grand occasion and the bunting’s out for HRH. The rest of the staff are assigned to oversee her safety, but Morse is left on general duties once more. This week that means making sure the crowds stay in order as all the ‘wooden’ police are busy at the factory. Jakes’ condescending manner is heightened again, and the way he talks down to Morse really makes it seem like Russell Lewis is setting him up for one hell of a fall in the final story of this series.

A few hours after the Queen has left, just as Bright is congratulating himself on a successful operation, Morse receives notification that a body’s been found.

… Craig Viveiros’ beautiful direction makes everything feel like it was shot on location; it’s gorgeous.

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Home: Episode 4 – Directed by Colm McCarthy and written by Russell Lewis

The series winds up with an episode that delivers quick punches. Thursday is up against powerful old foes. His daughter, June, and we know that Endeavour suffers from unrequited love for her, is giving the Inspector more heartburn than could any of the famously unappetising sandwiches his wife makes him.  We get a peek at Morse’s family.

Also,

In this episode the viewer discovers why Morse has a limp in later life. A storyline from the young Endeavour Morse to coincide with the real-life injury sustained by John Thaw and thus a physical element that Thaw brought to the character of Inspector Morse.

Trivia
MUSIC

At the very start of the episode we hear Faure’s Requiem: VII In Paradisum. This piece is of course very significant in the world of Morse as the same piece of music was playing when Morse collapsed to the ground with a heart attack in the episode, ‘The Remorseful Day’.

Endeavour: Connections to Morse and Lewis

The site is rich in detail, has photos and plenty of spicy trivia.

And with that we bid the series farewell, moving on, soon, to the second series of Endeavour while I eagerly await news of the upcoming sixth series.

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A Series of Paintings on Postcards – A Sampling of Spanish Painters

I’ve been frying eggs for most days of my married life! And there’s nothing quite like a fried egg when made to order. Today I’m not exactly presenting you with a Spanish Omelet but rather a paella of Spanish painters, tossed together with joyful memories of their art.

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Diego Velázquez – Google Art Project, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19980800

From Flemish to Spanish is not really from the frying pan to the fire but here is a painting that shows eggs being fried! This is the second postcard from my collection.

Diego Velazquez painted An Old Woman Cooking Eggs before he was 20 years old. It is clearly a demonstration piece. Everything is on display. The contents of the scene are laid out around the canvas like decorations on a Christmas tree. Let the eye circulate, checking each thing off: melon, glass flask, wooden spoon, terracotta pot, brass pan, egg, china plate, red garlic, brass mortar, red onion, earthenware jugs, tin dippers, woven straw basket, linen cloth.

From the INDEPENDENT

You can stroll through his other works here

This particular painting is termed A Masterpiece in Texture and Culinary History

Learn more about Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660), such a compassionate, yet unflinching painter

Here is a video about one of his other famous paintings

Velázquez was a painter of the Baroque period – a period in Western European art and music from roughly 1600 to 1750. But, for me, he is mainly a Spanish artist – along with others whose art has given me such a world of joy:

El Greco (1541 – 1614)

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El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) – Laocoön – Google Art Project

I chose this one because it is very powerful. Slightly disturbing too – qualities I associate with Spanish painters.

There seem to be two films about him and here is a trailer from one:

I’m putting Goya (1746 – 1828) next – a painter for whom I do have a special spot. However, I’ve merely chosen the one that remains representative to me of the Spanish Civil War.

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The Third of May by Francisco Goya, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18777858

And, if we are speaking of  Spanish painters, how can we not mention Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) and Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)?

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Picasso’s Guernica, image from Mark Barry, flickr.com/photos/markart/236849245

Picasso’s Guernica was inspired by the bombing of Guernica, in Spain, April 26, 1937. It was the time of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing killed some 1600 people and destroyed the city. The Spanish Republican government commissioned the mural for the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris International Exposition.

Explore the range of Pablo Picasso’s art.

With both Picasso and Dali, I find it hard to get a good print to share with you! Here is a famous Dali:

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Salvador Dali’s Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, wikiart.org/en/salvador-dali/slave-market-with-the-disappearing-bust-of-voltaire-1940

A short piece by Andy Warhol explores some of these ‘modern’ artists:

There are many books about these artists and here is one, merely as a sample:

 

 

A Series of Paintings on Postcards – Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Girl

During my early childhood, my father received dairies every year. These were wonderful to me as each showcased  some aspect of India’s art and architecture. And then it was my sister’s school book which furthered my love for art as it had passages about paintings with some very good colour plates. Alas that textbooks in India today lack such quality.

My journey of exploration of world art settled on European painters for many years as our school had some fine art books and a serene room in which students could sit and explore such volumes. Somewhere along the way, people started sending me picture postbards with famous paintings.

Today I share with you, not the first such postcard that I received, but one that is earliest in terms of the period of the painter.

Petrus_Christus_-_Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
By Petrus Christus – UAGsuoFcmmRiTg at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13333895

I will not go into detail about Petrus ChristusPortrait of a Young Girl, as there is a long and thorough discussion about it on Flemish Primitive Mystery Painting. He is said to be influenced by Jan van Eyck.

I have certainly seen a Jan van Eyck or two in my time.  Continue reading

The Last Cop – Action, Fun and More

This 2016 Japanese drama surfs not only the cop genre but also that of Rip Van Winkle. You know, waking up after a ‘long sleep’ as in Hibernatus , for example, a 1969 French-Italian film starring the one and only Louis de Funès.

There is also a Japanese film and I cannot recall its name nor that of the actor! Hopefully, someone will tell me on Quora.

However, The Last Cop is a remake of a German series

The Japanese remake is very entertaining and quite well made too. 

Another whacky angle in this drama is provided a most plain looking woman. This is the wife of the cop who has come out of a coma of many years. He finds her remarried. To another detective! But that’s not all: long ago, he’d won her in a fair fight with another friend. And so we have this absolutely ordinary looking woman who has something like three men in her life! It’s very funny to absorb and watch in action.

The hero’s sidekick is a well known actor: the versatile Masataka Kubota.

Masataka_Kubota-p02

Since many seem to have seen Death Note (not in my favourite genres), he stars in it:

It’s such despair for me not to be able to access screenshots or links to sales of DVDs or anything else that can help me get you to love Japanese dramas as much as I do.

Another fantastic cop show is 7 Detectives or Keiji 7 nin.

Here are some videos that might help you get as addicted as I am:

 

What Really Happened or How Nice It Is Not To Have Anybody To Blame

Otousan wa Nido Shinu or Father Dies Two Times is a Japanese drama in four episodes.

A man is stabbed. His family of wife and two adult children attend his funeral. What happened? Why is this father never present in any family photo? Why was he stabbed? Who is the lady presiding over the funeral? Was he stabbed or …?

Replete with twists and turns, this drama takes you through a minor crisis only to resolve it most sweetly and benignly. The bereaved wife, who looks quite in control of herself, who is ever reassuring her daughter and son that their father really loves them, appears to us to be heaving with sobs as we see her from the back, huddled and racked with grief. Actually, she’s eating sweet bean paste buns!

The absent father whose funeral forms the background of the drama is a high class actor.

Sadly I can’t offer you any videos of the drama – Do try and see it though!

And then on to another and again it’s no big deal though the triggering crisis is worthy of a mighty explosion. And so on for a set number of times and, finally, it’s daijobu really.

It’s really zen, zen, daijobu!

Which is the name of another must-see Japanese film. The link has a trailer with English subtitles.

Kenichi Endo has not much of a role at all here but do try and watch Tamiou, where he’s an apparently heartless minister and his spirit gets exchanged with that of his good for nothing son and Otosan to Yobasete, where he’s son-in-law-to-be of a man somewhat younger than himself.

The DVDs seem expensive! But worth it if one has the money as most Japanese films and dramas are worth watching over and over again.

Tip For Indian TV: Take A Page From J Dorama!

Growing up in India in the sixties it was a taken that few had access to education. When I entered graduation years, the sister of a young girl who worked as our maid went to the same college as I. By the late nineties, I’d spent a few afternoons participating in an initiative to bring schooling to the children of migrant labourers in Gurgaon. Enter the mid 2000s and it was not uncommon to see classes being conducted on the roadsides, in the open. Fast forward to somewhere in 2010 and all children went to school – some went after hours. Zip to now and all children go to school when it’s school time.

Today, most people in their twenties and maybe even thirties, in India, have attended school. And I can well imagine an Indian version of Grade A Reversal or Gekokujo Juken being a hit here.

Shinichi Sakurai is a real estate agent who has not studied past middle school. Neither has his home maker wife. Kaori, their daughter and only child, is not so good at school either.

One fine day, her terrible grades stir a bee in her father’s bonnet and this lets loose a whole wasp’s nest of hilarious measures he takes to see her pass an entrance exam.

His pretty wife is at first of the opinion that the child requires to focus on friendships and the now and that making her attend “cram school” will be harmful to her.

There is also the question of expense.

Somehow a whole lot of people get tugged into this exuberant current of a father who wants to be worthy of his kid by struggling through schooling along with her.

All sections of society are represented from the super richie rich classmate of the kid whose father happens to have been classmate of Kaori’s father to the cute school teacher, almost a kid herself, whose attitude is well representative of teacher mentalities even here in India, to Sakurai’s workmates, his carpenter father…

Such a TV drama can be made anywhere in India and would be a huge hit if suitably adapted to our current conditions. I’d suggest only the most minor of tweaks.

Sadao Abe is such a great actor that I’d watch anything that has him in it. Crazy For Me or Kokoro ga Pokkito ne deserves a blog all to itself. A superlative experience.

It’s hard to get good trailers/teasers of Japanese shows 😦

Kyoko Fukada is just too cute as is to say more about but it’s not that she’s not a great actor in her own right.

I’m so sorry I can’t give you anything other than this but she’s just toooo pretty! Khaaaaaaaawaaaaaaaiiiiiiii!
Kyoko Fukada - red carpet at Harry Potter 2007 Tokyo
Grandfather, Kaoru Kobayashi, is a veteran  and entertains as always.

Midnight Diner is a must watch, drama or film, season 1, 2 or 3 and, hopefully, the new Part 2 of the film.

Japanese dramas routinely tackle school stories.

However, the sad fact remains that most of us cannot access J dramas, easily or at all. And this blinds us to a wealth of beauty.

In the name of copyright, piracy and DMCA, we’re being herded into a narrow pen where we shall, in the name of so-called law and order, only watch anything made in India (or whatever region you are in) or from Holy Hollywood and ilk.

Growing Hope And Nourishing Sustainability

Late November 2016 saw us in Chennai for a workshop on writing science. This was held in the MSSRF building there. The M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation brings together people interested and engaged in sustainable livelihoods among other things. And, indeed, throughout our brief stay there, we not only interacted with such men and women as part of the workshop but also witnessed the coming and going of others. Each one involved in something thrilling like coastal systems, fisheries or forests.

As for the workshop, you will find more about it here.

This blog post is about the garden in the main Foundation building.

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We were told that the garden reflects a classification of lands into 5 categories in ancient Tamil literature dating some 2000 years back. Sangam literature, we were informed, contains references to this phenomenon.  

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Kurinji or hilly areas, Mullai or forests, Marutham or croplands, Neithal or seashores and Pālai or deserts.

There were even iconic animals for each region: Monkey, elephant, horse and bull for Kurinji, deer for Mullai, water buffalo, freshwater fish for Marutham, crocodile, shark for Neithal and fatigued elephant, tiger, or wolf for Palai.

Tolkappiyam deals with it in detail.

It was indeed very gratifying to see that this foundation has replicated those categories in the small garden that nestles in the heart of the main building!

MSSRF works hard and with youthful vigour, celebrating global initiatives like the Year of Pulses and Pulses Panchayat through the many men and women engaged in implementing and broadcasting its mission.

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There is also a Touch and Smell garden for the visually impaired in another part of the complex.

Such keen engagement with the human and geographical environment interface is surely a reflection of aspirations of the Foundation!

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