Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Colours - Episode Review


My review of the previous episode: Passenger

I didn't see that beginning coming.

We start with Fred and Win on the dance floor, impressing a panel of judges. "Semi-finals next," says Win, happily assuming they'll have the time when Fred retires. But will he?

Meanwhile, a debate on immigration between a blonde, priggish woman, Lady Bayswater (an echo of the Le Pens, or is this just my guess at European politics?) and a black man, "Marcus X," takes place at a college. Morse is in the audience with Claudine, who Joan set him up with last week. "Just a girl," Morse says, when Strange asks, and that seems to characterize the relationship well. He sees her as a fling, but he seems rather hurt when she reveals she sees him as the same thing.

As Lady Bayswater leaves the debate, protester Kit Hutchens throws something into her face and is promptly arrest. It's all fine, though, he explains - she deserved it. Hitler danced at her wedding.

On a local military base, we catch up with long-absent Sam Thursday, now Lance Corporal Thursday. He has a pair of mates, Private Oswald and Private Collier, and the regiment is planning to disintegrate and ship out to Germany in a few days. The men are thrilled when a group of alluring models visit the base, but wen one of them, Jean Ward, is killed in the practice shooting range "Murdertown," the Cowley boys have to come in to investigate.


Bright assigns Thursday to a managerial role since Sam is involved. (It's another episode pushing Thursday towards a desk job. Could we see Chief Superintendent Thursday next series? And D.I. Strange, or D.I. McNutt?)

British TV shows never can really capture the military, either the writers or the actors (Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is a notable exception). When an officer makes a comment about Oswald's "lot," and Oswald snaps back, "What are 'my lot' like?" without suffering any real reprimand, my suspension of disbelief evaporated. Anton Lesser actually has a military bearing, with his ramrod straight back and commanding authority, so his presence makes all the others conspicuous by comparison.

Other soldiers? There's Sergeant Major Davies, a minor character, and the commanding officers, Colonel Champion, Major Coward, and Mad Jack McDuff, who suffers from some form of extreme PTSD.

When Morse and Strange interview Jean's photographer and ex-lover, Justin Farridge, he says she was really the Right Hon. Moira Creighton-Ward, step-daughter of Lady Bayswater. The question of Moira's parentage comes up, Thursday and Morse suspect it could have been Colonel Champion or Mungo Coward. Thursday and Morse confront Lady Bayswater on the topic and Thursday has a hard time reining in his feelings when she goes Full Third Reich on him. Morse keeps his emotions in check, but cleverly manipulates her into telling him what he wants to know.

In a subplot, a segregated hair salon has sparked protests and brings together an improbable number of supporting characters. Police stand outside guarding the shop and patrons, including Trewlove. Claudine darts about taking pictures. Joan Thursday and Kit Hutchens are among the protesters, who are led by a charismatic Marcus X. When one protester lunges at a customer, a riot breaks out. Trewlove ends up with a black eye and Joan ends up arrested, though she's promptly released by Strange (Joan/Strange is totally happening).

On the Thursday family front, Sam is irrationally angry with his father for the arrest of his friend, Oswald (to whom all the evidence points, and for whom Sam can offer no reasonable excuse). It's supposed to be a heartwarming character arc as Sam learns to respect his father, but I can't get over how unreasonably bratty he was to Fred.

The episode as a whole is rather boring. L'affaire de Joan has been going on so long that it's become static. The demise of the Oxford City Police as a thing is a dramatic nonstarter. I'm not really seeing any sparks between Fancy and Trewlove. The story overlooks so many coincidences it could be Midsomer. And the dialogue in this one is downright awful. "The face that launched a thousand snips" and some laughably unerotic conversation about apes between Morse and Claudette are the worst of it.


And whatever happened to Morse the opera fan? Morse the sophisticated ale snob? Morse's hobbies have disappeared, and with them a large chunk of who he is.

My review of the next episode: Quartet.

Notes:

  • After rewatching Passenger, I'm failing to see Fancy/Trewlove happening. He looks like he's about 12. She's so calm and competent that she needs someone more mature.
  • As for Joan/Strange I'm torn. Strange has matured, but he's never going to be a character intelligent enough to match Joan. I feel like she might settle.
  • I don't feel like this season has a real engine driving things forward. Like season 2, it's fairly aimless, so it's going to have to end with a bang to redeem itself. Take bets in the comments about who's going to die. (Calling it now - Fancy is really Ron Pigot.)
  • With the huge focus on the Thursday family it feels like Russell Lewis is wrapping up threads. I predict this season will be the last with the Thursdays.
  • Peter Hitchens pointed out the reference to Roderick Spode in Thursday's rant, but also astutely criticized the political inconsistencies of said rant.
My reviews of Endeavour:
Series 1
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5

If you enjoyed this article, check out my full list of detective reviews.

If you want to keep up with great TV mysteries, follow my detective news site Murder! 'Orrible Murder! on TumblrTwitter, or Facebook.

Longish

17 comments:

  1. Most Black men tended to join units like the R.E, R.A or other Units because they got a harder time in Infantry Regiments in that Era. Imo, This Episode's Plotline revolved around Military Life and the Writer and the Researchers Failed badly as the Countless thousands of former Military people who watched it will testify. As a former Soldier who was in the Army,from 1968-1974, I can assure you that every aspect of Uniform wearing, behaviour, bearing and attitude was just plain Wrong as was the whole Minefield aspect, every bit of it. This Episode, for me, was Dire.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Hannah, thanks for another perceptive review.

    There’s so much to commend Colours: the excellent photography, the great acting (I thought Caroline Goodall was outstanding as Lady Bayswater) and the picturesque locations. We were treated to fantastic character development: Fred and Win tangoing the night away; Fancy’s awkward attempt at kissing Trewlove; Strange and Joan Thursday’s slowly budding relationship and Morse's no-strings-attached fling with Claudette (or is it the other way 'round?). And it was great to see (Lance Corporal) Sam Thursday again. Yet I found the story, well, meh.

    I’ve always felt that episodes of Morse/Lewis/Endeavour that stick to the spires of Oxford rather than venture into Midsomershire are best ones. I put the disappointment of Colours down to that; but perhaps you’re right, it could be that the Brits just can't dramatise Military.

    In the ‘who’s going to die’ stakes, I’m reasonably confident that Morse and Strange are safe – possibly DeBryn too. After that, who knows? I’m still shipping Fancy and Trewlove.

    And the award for the worst dialogue ever in a dramatic series goes to Chief Superintendent Bright:
    “Constable Trewlove, good heavens! What’s happened to you?”
    “Yesterday’s public disorder, sir.”
    “Bruised or not, your ready smile brightens our drab walls with much needed vim and youthful freshness.”

    Yuck. Who writes this stuff?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The story was boring - and while the personal stuff was good, it's so lacking in tension that I found myself unmoved by it.

      And yes, Bright's exchange with Trewlove was horribly cringeworthy.

      Delete
    2. It just goes to show you can't please all the people all the time. I thought the line was so beautiful I printed it out and stuck it on my noticeboard.

      "Your ready smile brightens our drab walls with much needed vim and youthful freshness."

      Delete
  3. Although could be Fred's brother who dies - he is returning for the last Ep and is obviously mixed up in shady dealings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope not - I'd like to have a properly sad death scene. If someone killed Charlie I might sit up and cheer.

      Delete
    2. IF Charlie dies and takes Fred's money to the grave (so to speak) then Fred will have an excuse to keep working. So maybe Bright will be retired and Fred will get his job.

      Delete
  4. I thought ugh this this Ep was dire as well - for me. Sorry if Joan and Strange wind up together that will be it for me with the series - all of that with her and Morse for almost two series and for it to go nowhere? And the beautiful Joan to end up with Strange? It would be a complete cop out (no pun intended) and prove that the writer has completely run out of ideas.

    The army scenes were not great and everyone - except Allam - seemed one dimensional cardboard cut outs. The sex scenes - I can only think they were put there for some fans the romance for me fell very flat - nothing like the lovely Morse/Monica scenes or for that matter Joan and Morse - they managed to convey more passion and intensity in their scenes in Lazaretto and Harvest with their clothes on then these two have rolling around naked - well that is my opinion.

    Apart from Fred's brother I think it is Fancy - I also think that the Thursdays are on their way out - although I feel the series will really struggle without Allam.

    I think this has been the worst Ep -the acting still great but I feel for them! Where has the gorgeous atmosphere created with the great music and understated dialogue gone?

    Given next week's Ep is Bond Morse - espionage in London - I don't feel it is returning anytime soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Claudine is really sweet and a refreshingly ungloomy presence, but the story doesn't use her well - we know she's not going to stick around, because the series cares more about Joan.

      Delete
    2. Agree the affair from my POV was not well written. They went from the light at the end of one Ep to a full on affair. I would have liked to see how they got there -even if it is to be a fling -perhaps that is why I felt their love scenes soulless.

      Still don't understand why they made her a friend of Joan's - it seemed totally irrelevant to it all -I was expecting a link or interaction -did i miss it? Unless it is covered in the next Ep.

      Delete
    3. There's no reason that Joan had to set them up, and it feels slightly weird that she did - like he's only able to be with people that are related to her in some way. Move ON, dude.

      Delete
    4. I felt that Joan setting Morse up with Claudine was her way of telling him that "it's over" and here's a consolation prize.

      Delete
  5. Well I liked it. Granted it unfolded slowly with diverse scenes, people, viewpoints. But that is one of the things I enjoy so much about Endeavour - although I love a good mystery - for me the success of the series is character driven. We fall in love with the people and always hope for a good story along the way. I am sad to think that Fred will retire - surely Bright is much older? Agree that there would be a struggle to fill the huge black hole left by Allam's departure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A poor episode that gave one small indicator of character development whilst destroying much of the ground work prepared during Passenger.
    Colour gave us a hint that Joan might have a future with Jim- he shares many of Freds' traits- enough to interest Joan but not so many as to swamp her- but the rest of the episode trampled and destroyed the carefully crafted ground work of previous episodes. Fred becoming weary of human wickedness and moving to the conclusion that he was best out and Bright realising that policing where officers were polite, intelligent, thoughtful and respectful of seniors was passing rapidly and that his time too was passing.
    It must also be apparent to him that in some cases all that separates some new style officers (the Robbery Inspector) from the villains is the holding of a warrant card- (and as an aside I think this inturn provided the growing medium that resulted in the harvest of corrupt officers during the era of Sir Robert Mark and Operation Countryman)
    Soon there will be Morse with many of Thursdays' values and Strange a few rungs down the ladder and nearer "Bang em up George" style of policing.
    And Fancy? A nothing, no spark, no obvious brain, just how did he make it to CID? Lodge? Patronage??
    I have more general thoughts and comments about the times and attitudes portrayed but perhaps they should wait until next week when this series concludes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did see the Joan/Strange scene as the most promising connection between the two. He's paternal and safe. When Joan ends up in dark places, as she often does, she wants that safety. She can't accept it from her father.

      Fred's development in this was puzzling. I'm not sure what to make of his big speech to Lady Bayswater, which felt off and crowd-pleasing. Peter Hitchens took it apart in a column on the topic which I might add to the notes section above.

      Agreed on Fancy - he's kind of dorky and sweet, but he's not contributing anything, really, and he looks like a kid. Trewlove is a grown-up.

      Delete
    2. 1968 as I remember it, and how it is portrayed in the TV series 'Endeavour' http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/02/1968-as-i-remember-it-and-how-it-is-portrayed-in-the-tv-series-endeavour-.html
      More of a 1968 memoir than much on Lady Bayswater imho but interesting read as is your terrific blog...catching up in Paris thanks to Youtube :))

      Delete
  7. Oh my dancing shoes..my favorite so far. LOVE.

    ReplyDelete

WARNING: Blogger sometimes eats comments - copy before you post.