Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Endeavour - Home - Episode Review

My review of last week's episode.

Professor Alistair Coke Norris’s death in a hit and run accident seems open and shut—but this is Morse. After some poking around, and informing the mild-mannered wife (Poppy Miller), it’s revealed that he to vote on a sale of college land that, predictably, involves some shady dealings. Also predictably, C.S. Bright is not happy about this turn of events. While at first amusingly Wodehousian, Bright is becoming more and more irritating and obstructive to Morse and Thursday. (By the way, this is getting a little wearing. Isn’t there anything else he does?)

But Bright’s political sycophancy becomes a real danger when one of Thursday’s old adversaries, Vic Kasper, turns up. From the moment the two set eyes on each other, it’s obvious they have A History. Following that revelation, this episode is more about Thursday than Morse (though perhaps it always has been.) Morse learns even more of his mentor’s old secrets. Somehow, though, these tidbits seem less interesting than the knowledge of Italian, war-time reminiscing, and dinner-table banter in earlier episodes.

And our villain? Vic Kasper certainly feels like a sleaze ball, but is upstaged on nastiness by his son, Vince (Nick Court.) Unfortunately, while Vince gets to say all the mean things, he doesn’t have the villain oomph to back it up. While the episode is obviously aiming at a sense of danger, it falls well short of the edge-of-your-seat feel in Fugue. This could be, though, because I saw the trailer previously, which ruined most of the dramatic moments. I noticed that watching it again with my parents, their reactions were much more intense. Still, it doesn't feel like Kasper’s mafia-like aura is fully utilized.

The theme of family is brought to the fore. As viewers of the old series will remember, Morse had a very dysfunctional family. Here, we get to meet them. His half-sister, Joyce doesn’t look much like Sorcha Cusack (Cusack was pretty frumpy in the role, from what I remember, while Sonya Cassidy is very pretty), and has a brief cameo. There are a few seconds of the abrasive step-mother Gwen. Morse’s extremely distant father (Alan Williams) looks strikingly like John Thaw, and even echoes the latter’s grumpy “don’t fuss” (or some variant.) In their scenes together, the awkward silence dominates to great effect.

Thursday is obviously meant to contrast with this. A parallel story with his daughter, Joan, shows a markedly different father-child relationship, with Thursday the caring, albeit somewhat over-protective, father. Joan, on the other hand, is rebellious, which causes her to get caught up in the drama between Thursday and Kasper (and another between Morse and Jakes.)

Eventually, we build to a rather melodramatic climax. The aftermath is actually more fulfilling. The last scene with Morse’s father is very well acted by Evans, though I’m feeling less connection with the older Morse with each successive episode. Perhaps he’s fully become his own man.
Overall, fine acting (as usual) but a plodding, un-original storyline with a handful of dangling plot-ends.

3/5 stars.

To examine the entire season, this is definitely good TV. I'd put it at my favorite series this year (so far.) Each episode has a distinctly different feel, influenced, I'd imagine by the change in director. Girl felt like the Morse tribute episode, giving us a firm footing in the world and tons of lovely connections to the original show. Fugue was a thriller, more than a whodunit, with a tense race-against-time feel. Rocket was a more routine episode, with a Morsian romance thrown in. Home seems like an attempt at a Western show-down in Oxford, which falls short of the mark but has its high points.

Looking at the show as a whole, Girl feels the most at-ease with itself, despite the ridiculous solution. The moment where Thursday savors the surprise of a cheese-and-pickle sandwich is an example of how it refuses to take itself or its characters tremendously seriously, and is open to a little light-heartedness. On the other hand, Fugue and Home spin over into drama, in the style of Inspector George Gently or Sherlock. I'm hoping that that small scene in Girl is more indicative of future episodes.

A second season has been confirmed, which is great news. In the meantime, more Foyle's War coming in September...

My review of next season


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