Driven to Distraction. An Overview: Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc.

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As an added help for readers I have added links to many names of actors and TV series mentioned in the post. Just click on the underlined text and a new window will open for the link.

First transmitted in the UK on the 17th January 1990.

This episode is not based on any of Colin Dexter’s books.

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This is episode 3 in series 4. Chronologically this is episode 14.

Colin Dexter appears in the laundromat scene at: 23m 26s

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Directed by Sandy Johnson: This was the only episode Sandy Johnson directed. he did direct other crime dramas such as,  A Touch of Frost, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries and Jonathan Creek.

Written by Anthony Minghella: He also wrote the episodes; ‘The Dead of Jericho’ and ‘Deceived by Flight’.

EPISODE JAG RATING, (out of ten)

 

Synopsis

Nurse Jackie Thorn is stabbed, bound and killed in her flat after being followed home by a man whose face we never see. A link between Jackie Thorn’s death and the murder of a Maureen Thompson, a month earlier, is found in the way they were killed and bound.

Jackie’s boyfriend, Tim Ablett, tells the police that Jackie had only found out a few days prior to her death that she was pregnant. However, Morse and Lewis believe the baby may not be Tim Abletts as she lied to him about her plans for the weekend.

A only connection between the two murdered women is where they bought their cars, Boynton’s Showroom. Morse becomes convinced that Boynton is the murderer but can he prove it before another murder is committed.

REVIEW. (warning this review may contain some spoilers)

This is a very good episode but is let down by some anomalies as well as, in my opinion, a poor ending. More on this later.

After fourteen episodes, Lewis appears to be losing his patience with Morse. The episode is filled with many scenes of Lewis being angry with Morse and certainly in some of those scenes Lewis is justified in his anger. He certainly is justified in being angry at Morse for having visited Philippa Lau (played by Carolyn Choa), a survivor of an attack by the killer, without thinking how this would affect her. As Lewis says, “You just trample around, don’t you. You’re supposed to be so clever, Sometimes I just think you’re a bloody fool.” We don’t see Lewis being this angry again until the episode, ‘A Walk through the Woods’ (Episode 29 and the first ‘special’). Lewis also has one of the best lines of the episode. He tells Sergeant Maitland, “There’s no procedure. It’s crime solved like a crossword puzzle and i’m sick of it”.

I have to admit that it took me a while to realise who the killer was. For most of the episode I believed the killer to be Martin Cass (played by Malcolm Raeburn) the salesman at Boynton’s showroom. This was down to clever writing and directing as the camera did linger uncomfortably on Martin Kass a few times making this viewer wonder why. He also had a connection to the two murdered women and he made a play for Jackie Thorn when she was buying her car. “Legs up to her knickers” is how Martin Cass described his memory of her.

What makes this episode above average are the two actors, David Ryall (who plays Derek Whittaker) and Patrick Malahide (who plays Jeremy Boynton). These are two actors who deserve more kudos than they receive. (Sadly, David Ryall died at the end of last year). I have been a fan of Patrick Malahide since his days in Minder as ‘Charlie’ Chisholm.  Patrick Malahide also appeared in the pilot episode of Endeavour as Richard Lovell. Of course Patrick Malahide will be well known to fans of TV crime as he played the title caharacter in ‘The Alleyn Mysteries‘. David Ryall turned up an episode of Lewis, ‘Life born of Fire’ as Mr Cooper. I loved David Ryall in one of my all time favourite films, ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’. Here is a link to David’s obituray in the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11315187/David-Ryall-obituary.html.

There are some lovely scenes in this episode and one of my favourites is this one involving Morse and Sergeant Maitland (played by Mary Jo Randle). The reward at the end of the scene is John Thaw’s wonderful smile.

What is also interesting about this scene is the story Morse tells about his friend. This was based on a true story. While Kenny McBain the series producer,who brought Morse to our TV screens, was very ill (he eventually died of his illness) Anthony Minghella would drive Kenny’s car each day to keep the battery charged.

 So, to what I believe is wrong with the episode. Firstly, we are shown that their is a trail of food from Jackie Thorn’s front door to where she is lying dead. However, we are shown Jackie Thorn get out of her car and entering the building where she lives before the killer gets out of her car. Surely, Jackie would have been in her kitchen before the killer even reached her front door. There is no way, and certainly there is none shown, as to why she would have taken so long to get into her flat. Secondly, why was Jeremy Boynton not charged with obstruction or threatening behaviour toward Angie Howe?

One could also ask why didn’t Boynton realise that Morse’s jag outside his showroom belonged to a policeman. He had watched the jag go into the driveway where Jackie Thorn lived and died. Surely, with his great love of Jags he would have remembered seeing it being driven by Morse into the driveway?

Onto my problem with the ending. I personally believe the episode’s denouement feels hurried and quite ridiculous and bears no real relation to the rest of the episode. The killer’s death is also Agatha Christie like in its method. Also, the reasoning behind the killer murdering the women is absurd and again bears no relation to the rest of the episode. The motive for the killings has to be at least hinted at during the episode but never is. What’s worse is that we are never given any more insight to the killer’s motives.

But, not discounting my reservations mentioned in the above paragraph I still do like the episode and it’s nice to see lewis standing up to Morse. This shows how strong their relationship has become that Lewis can openly criticize Morse and feel comfortable doing so. Also, Morse, rather than getting angry with Lewis becomes concerned about him. It’s also interesting that there is a hint that Lewis may be looking to move to pastures new. Was this written into the episode to put the viewer on edge as to the possibility of the series coming to an end? Or, i’m just reading to much into the whole thing? Probably.

MUSIC

A mixture of jazz and classical in this episode. The singer of the jazz pieces is Marion Montgomery but unfortunately I can find no videos of her anywhere singing the songs included in this episode.

Marion Montgomery was an American singer who died in 2002. Here is a link to her obituary,  http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/jul/23/guardianobituaries.johnfordham1

At the beginning, in first victim’s car (though technically she is the third victim) we hear Cole Porter’s ‘You Do Something to Me’ sung by Marian Montgomery. Below is a video of the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald singing her version of the song.

00h01m49s

Jazz music again but this time in the killer’s car. It is again Marian Montgomery singing ‘Why Don’t You Behave’. Here below is Ella Fitzgerald’s version of the song.

00h05m40s

The next piece is being played in Boynton’s car when he arrives at Jackie Thorn’s flat but finds the police swarming and journalists swarming all over the area. The music is the same as the piece heard in Jackie Thorn’s car at the beginning, Cole Porter’s ‘You Do Something to Me’.

00h23m33s

The killer is watching his next victim from his car while listening to the same piece of music at one minute 49 seconds, ‘Why Don’t You Behave’.

00h24m30s

The classical music being played while Morse sits in his car contemplating the case is Johann Sebastian Bach’s, (1685 – 1750), Six Suites for Violin and Cello. Suite No. 3. Below is a video of the brilliant Yo Yo Ma playing the piece on the cello. If you want to feel heavenly then click on the video.

00h41m46s

The killer is following his next victim, Pamela Steadman, in his car. The music is the same as above, ‘Why Don’t You Behave’.

00h53m59s

While the SOCO (Scene of Crime Officers) take Boynton’s car apart the team push in a cassette in the car and what plays is of course, ‘You Do Something to Me’.

01h17m32s

While Morse and Sergeant Maitland work on the computers the music of Mozart. The piece being played is the Horn Concerto No 4.

01h25m43s

The Killer is again watching his next victim, Pamela Steadman, while playing ‘Why Don’t You Behave’.

 LITERARY REFERENCES

00h16m33s

Jeremy Boynton visits Angie Howe in the bookshop where he works. Boynton says that he will read Candida while he waits for Angie to finish for the day.

Candida is a play by George Bernard Shaw set in October of 1894 the same year it was written.

00h20h32s

Morse, Lewis and Maitland are following a car to try and get an idea of how the killer thinks. As they watch the car they are following enter police offices Morse says, “Curioser and Curioser said Alice”.

This is of course from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The quote is from chapter 2, The Pool of Tears and is said after Alice ate the cake that had the words ‘Eat me’ on it. The full quote is;

`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).

ART

There is no art to speak of in this episode. Unless you consider Morse’s jag as art. 😉

Interesting Facts

Carolyn Chao who played the surviving victim, Phillipa Lau, is the wife of Anthony Minghella.

Minghella and Chao

She is primarily a dancer and choreographer. She also appeared in the Anthony Minghella directed film ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply‘.

 Three actors who appear in this episode would eventually turn up in episodes of Lewis and Endeavour. Apart from Patrick Malahide and David Ryall who were mentioned above, Richard Huw who plays Detective Constable Reardon, appeared in the Lewis episode, ‘Entry Wounds’ as a solicitor. Anne Parker kindly pointed out that Mary Jo Randle also appeared in a Lewis episode, ‘Falling Darkness’.

LOCATIONS

Jackie and Angie’s flats were filmed at Castlebar in London.

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Below is how it looks now. Unfortunately trees have grown to such a point that the above view is no longer possible, (see pic directly below. A bit further up the road the flats distinctive building can be seen through vegetation, (see pic below)

DrivenMorseCastlebar Hill.      DrivenMorseCastlebar Hill2.

The pub where Strange and Morse drink was filmed in the Duke of Kent pub, again in London,

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Below is Boynton’s garage and below that is how it looks today.

vlcsnap-2015-04-30-23h07m38s129    driven boyntons garage

CAST

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Julia Lane as Jackie Thorn. No info other than what’s on IMDB (Internet Movie Database.

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Tariq Yunus as George. Born: October 16, 1946 – Died: August 26, 1994

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Tessa Wojtczak as Angie Howe. Born in 1958

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Richard Huw as Detective Constable Reardon. No info other than what’s on IMDB

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Al Ashton as a detective. Born: June 26, 1957 – Died: April 27, 2007.

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David Lonsdale as a detective. Born: May 21, 1963.

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Patrick Malahide as Jeremy Boynton. Born: March 24, 1945.

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Christopher Fulford as Tim Ablett. Born: 1955.

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Malcolm Raeburn as Martin Kass. No Info apart from what’s on IMDB

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David Ryall as Derek Whittaker. Born: January 5, 1935 – Died: December 25, 2014.

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James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange. Born: October 22, 1927 – Died: June 24, 2012. James Grout’s obituary http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jul/03/james-grout-obituary

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Carolyn Choa as Phillipa Lau.  (No info)

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Cheryl Maiker as Pamela Steadman. Born December 2, 1963.

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4 comments

  1. I also recently rewatched this episode and agree pretty much with your review. But in mentioning actors who had been in Lewis, you forgot Mary Jo Randle who was Falling Darkness.

    Like

  2. Christopher Fulford is always good whatever show he appears in. I was so taken with the Bach cello suite that I went to iTunes and bought Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach unaccompanied cello suites (37 of them!). It is sublimely beautiful.

    Like

  3. If I may I’m going to challenge you on your lack of motive 🙂 Just re-watched this and couldn’t help but notice similarities to the excellent Endeavour episode ‘Sway’. And I think reflecting on that you have your motive: older guy, long (frustrated?) marriage, dead/terminal wife, watches younger more charming men seduce women in a way he never could, something snaps, takes out years of pent up frustration. The fact that Malahide was having an affair with one of them I’m sure was not lost on Russell Lewis whose killer selects his victims based on their acquaintance with the Alfie character (and happens to like the old time tunes when moving in for the kill). Clearly an homage to the Morse episode.

    So to that end I think the motive holds up if not some of the other bits you mention – the shopping on the floor was driven by the need to provide Morse a tenuous link with the Montecristos, which was a little weak but as it’s such a fine episode and Minghella such a fine writer I guess we can allow a little artistic licence.

    Great blog, keep up the good work!

    Like

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