!!SPOILERS!! !!SPOILERS!! In this post I will be not only reviewing the episode but also looking at the locations, music, literary references and other interesting facts and trivia within the episode. So, if you haven’t seen the episode, look away now.
Endeavour: Series 4, Episode 2. Canticle.
Canticle – A hymn or chant, typically with a biblical text, forming a regular part of a church service.
First shown on the 15th January 2017 in the UK.
Chronologically this would be episode 15.
Directed by Michael Lennox. The director Michael Lennox has mostly worked on documentaries and short films.
WRITTEN AND DEVISED BY RUSSELL LEWIS.
It’s 1967 and it’s the height of flower power. It is also a year that sees the release of the influential Beatles album Sgt’ Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and 1967 famously become known as the Summer of Love.
While Morse, Fred and Win Thursday continue to try and come to terms with Joan’s disappearance the world keeps spinning and at this time it spins to the beat of a band known as Wildwood.
Wildwood (a mix of Pink Floyd and The Beatles) are a band on the brink of breaking into America. Like most bands of that particular era they experiment with drugs, sex and Indian mysticism. Also like other bands they have their fare share of arguments and groupies in the shape of Pippa and Emma.
While the band are on the rise so is the movement to control the use of bad language and blasphemy on television in the shape of Mrs J. Pettybon. Mrs Pettybon, a thinly veiled nod to Mary Whitehouse, runs the campaign to ‘Keep Britain Clean’ helped by her daughter Bettina and the Reverend Golightly.
A young bricklayer, Finch is found dead but it is apparent he was moved from the place where he was killed. Finch was last seen at Mapplewick Hall partying with the group Wildwood who have rented the property for the summer.
Meanwhile, Mrs Pettybon has been receiving death threats and Endeavour is tasked with being her bodyguard. The death threat is carried out but the intended victim remains alive and well.
Fred Thursday and Endeavour Morse not only attempt to deal with the murders but also try to come to terms with a world they bare becoming less able to recognise.
I have been a fan of the Morse universe for almost all of it’s 30 year life span. In all those years there is one adjective I have never used when writing or talking about all three series within the Morse universe. That adjective never reared it’s ugly head even when I watch my least favourite Morse episode, ‘The Wench is Dead‘ or my least favourite Lewis episode, ‘Counter Culture Blues‘ or the ridiculous Endeavour episode ‘Prey‘. That adjective is BORING. This episode was boring.
The fourth series has gone from the sublime first episode ‘Game‘ to the ridiculous and tedious second episode ‘Canticle‘. The opening scenes of the first episode of the fourth series were beautiful, haunting and remarkably moving. The opening scenes of the new episode were grating, boring, derivative and included a song that was insipid.
A note to the writer Russell Lewis, we as viewers know the series is set in the 1960s. We know it is the time of flower power. We know 1967 was the summer of love. We know it was the year that The Beatles released their sublime album, ‘Sgt’ Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ We the viewers do not need all this shoved down our throats. The series as a whole has gone from the 1960s setting only being used in a subtle discreet way never impinging or saturating the episodes, to the 1960s setting force fed down our collective throats.
Why Mr Lewis did you believe it was a good idea to have Emma attempt to kill Endeavour? I don’t believe there is a single viewer who is not aware that John Thaw played the older Morse in 33 episodes. For that reason we ALL know Endeavour will be neither killed maimed or seriously injured. For that reason the scene was bereft of drama, tension or suspense. Hands up all those who hadn’t anticipated DS Strange and Fred Thursday stopping Emma. Not one hand in the air. On the subject of Emma as the hysterical, jealous killer; boring and obvious and prosaic.
The direction was turgid and was at odds with the, as always, excellent cinematography. The direction lacked…well direction. The pacing of the episode was poor and this added to the tedium that pervaded the episode.
Mrs Pettybon was a cartoon carictaure of Mary Whitehouse (with a voice not unlike Margaret Thatcher) who must be spinning in her grave. Sylvestra Le Touzel who played the irascible Mrs Pettybon did her best with the part but was let down by the lack of depth in the character and Mrs Pettybon’s cartoon qualities.
Jim Strange and Trewlove’s character’s are being, in my opinion, under written and so become under used. This is more true for WPC Trewlove who for the last two episodes pops up like a meerkat to point Endeavour in the right direction with either her knowledge of the Kinks or chess.
But the actors Sean Rigby and Dakota Blue Richards have to take some of the blame for not being standouts in the episodes. Max DeBryn’s character played by James Bradshaw has very few scenes but the excellent Bradshaw grabs those scenes by the throat and makes them his own. When Bradshaw is in a scene one finds themselves watching him and not the main stars even when he doesn’t have any lines. Kudos Mr Bradshaw, Peter Woodthorpe would be proud.
The episode did have some redeeming qualities. The acting by the main cast was as always superb. Anton Lesser like James Bradshaw controls any scenes he is in. Where Bradshaw steals his scenes with a wonderful brashness and strong personality, Lesser takes control of his scenes with a quiet, serene but powerful undercurrent of authority.
There were two outstanding scenes from an acting point of view. Firstly, Shaun Evans during the poisoning scene (I would have liked to have seen this scene expanded with images within Endeavour’s hallucinations) and secondly Roger Allam and Caroline O’Neill‘s scene in the family living room when discussing Joan or not as was the case.
As for the phone call at the end of the episode, I believe that it was Joan or the woman we see with the tarot cards. I don’t believe it was Bettina Pettybon. I think she is a red herring to muddy the waters if you will pardon the mixed metaphores. As for the woman with the tarot cards I still cannot put any possible name to her.
It will take more than one poor episode to stop me watching. The acting still makes the series watchable but the writing and direction of this episode have let the team down. Hopefully, next week’s penultimate episode of series four, ‘Lazaretto’ will wash away those dirty feelings of shame I have on having to use that particular adjective. Please Mr Lewis do not make me contaminate any future posts with that disagreeable, contentious adjective that should never be part of the vocabulary associated with our lovable detective.
So my rating for this episode is 3 jags out of ten.
As most of you will know Colin Dexter will not be appearing in the series four episodes due to ill health. However the producers have made sure that he appears in the episode in one way or another. In this episode Colin’s picture appears in the newspaper shown near the end of the episode.
The first piece of music we hear is one that was written by Matthew Slater and Russell Lewis. The song is sung by Sharlette who plays the singer, “Mimi”. Click here to read Damian Michael Barcroft’s interview with Sharlette.
First up is during the first scene at Mapplewick Hall. The song is Turn Into Earth by the Yardbirds.
Next up we have the genius that was Jimi Hendrix. The song Red House is being played when the band appear at the studios to appear on the TV show Almanac.
Another classic sixties song is playing on Anna-Britt Clark’s radio, I Feel Free by Cream.
Endeavour is pouring over the photos he found of Barry Finch, Nick Wilding and Pippa.. The music is String Quartet No. 14 In D Minor D.810, “Death and the Maiden”: I. Allegro by Franz Schubert.
And lastly we have a classical piece, Verdi’s Messe di Requiem.
Nick Wilding asks Endeavour if he has read Huxley and that he wants to see what is beyond the door. This is a reference to the novelist Aldoux Huxley probably best known for the excellent novel Brave New World. Huxley wrote a novel in 1954 that would influence many bands in the 60s, The Doors of Perception.
This book has a connection with the Morse episode, Cherubim and Seraphim. More about that later.
The novel Justine by the Marquis De Sade is seen being read. Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue is a 1791 novel by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the Marquis de Sade. De Sade is infamous for his erotic works.
Scratched on the album by Wildwood, Boys and Girls Come Out to Play, are the letters and numbers YEMKTTHL 4099.
The letters are an acronym to a line in Oscar Wilde’s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. ‘Yet each man kills the thing he loves’.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
The number 4099 alludes to Oscar Wilde’s prisoner number.
The location of where the dance number takes place is New College, Holywell St, Oxford OX1 3BN.
Also during the opening scene we see people gathered around Mrs Pettybon’s campaign bus. The bus is parked in Radcliffe Square near Radcliffe camera.
Next up we have the location where the group Wildwood are occupying for the summer, West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England.
This location was also used in the Lewis episode, Whom the Gods Would Destroy, Series 1, Episode 1, 2007.
Connections to the Morse and Lewis series.
Thursday and Morse discuss the marijuana found at the college. Morse tells Thursday that he would never use drugs as he “likes to keep a clear head’. Thursday replies, “You put enough beer away.” “Beer is brain food” replies Morse. I’m sure in the original series Morse says this exact line but all I can remember is John Thaw’s Morse saying, “Beer is food” in the episode, Settling of the Sun.
One of the characters, Nick Wilding I think, asks “How can love be dirty” when talking of homosexual sex. I wonder if this is referencing the Lewis episode, Life Born of Fire. Will McEwan commits suicide and leaves a DVD to be played later during a Gay Rights parade. Will says “Love is never wrong”.
Hannah Long who writes and runs the excellent blog http://longish95.blogspot.co.uk about all things related to crime drama, thought she remembered that there was a connection with a Morse episode regarding Aldous Huxley‘s book ‘The Doors of Perception‘. ( Mentioned above in under the heading ‘Literary References’).
I checked the episode Cherubim and Seraphim where Hannah believed there might be a connection and she was right. Here is the conversation between the coroner Dr Heywood, Morse and Lewis when discussing a boy’s suicide.
Morse – “Are you suggesting this boy…”
Dr Heywood – Did an Aldous Huxley.”
Lewis – “Huxley? Is that Brave New World.”
Morse – I think Doctor Heywood is thinking more of the ‘Doors of Perception’, Lewis.”
Dr Heywood – “Heaven and Hell actually.”
Morse – “When Huxley was dying of cancer he got his wife to inject him with LSD. He had this notion, you see, that he would enter the next life in a state of euphoric bliss.”
Interesting Facts and Trivia.
It might just be me but I thought the song by Wildwood, Jennifer Sometimes sounded a bit like Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play.
The character Julian Calendar is of course based on the 1960s DJ and TV host, Simon Dee.
David Reed as Julian Calendar
With all the homosexual undertones through the episode I believe the name Mapplewick Hall was an allusion to the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Robert was famous for his homoerotic photographs.
The hotel room where Reverend Golightly is found dead was called the ‘Cooke Suite‘.
The spelling is incorrect but could this be referencing Captain James Cook Morse’s father’s favourite historical figure and whose boat HMS Endeavour the baby Morse was named after.
The Wildwood album cover Morse looks at in Finch’s room looks a bit like Pink Floyd’s
album cover to their LP, Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Ok only a little but…
The Wildwood manager mentions a song called He Loves You. A simple allusion to The Beatles She Loves You.
Another Beatle reference is the poster in Finch’s room on the wall.
The poster on the right hand wall looks remarkably like The Beatles album cover art for the film A Hard Days Night.
Again this is probably my fertile imagination but Russell Lewis loves his film references. One of my all time directors is Alfred Hitchcock and my third favourite film of his is Vertigo. (My first is North by Northwest and my second favourite is Rear Window)
In the film Vertigo one of the characters played by Kim Novak, (if you know the film you will understand why I have written ‘one of the characters’) has a particular hairstyle that becomes a clue if you like.
Kim Novak in Vertigo.
In one scene the camera is placed at the back of Mrs Pettybon and her hair is out of focus. Then when Endeavour leaves the room the hairstyle comes into focus.
The hairstyle of Kim Novaks became known as the Vertigo style.
Nick Wilding is quite obviously based on Pink Floyd‘s original singer Syd Barratt. Barratt’s behaviour became erratic and unpredictable, partly as a consequence of his reported heavy use of psychedelic drugs, most prominently LSD. He experienced hallucinations, disorganized speech, memory lapses, intense mood swings, and periods of catatonia.
The Dudley Jessop story regarding his downfall after being accused of obscenity by Mrs Pettybon seems to be an allusion to the famous OZ trials back in the 1960s. Oz was a satirical magazine that found itself in the middle of an obscenity trial, twice.
An interesting cultural reference was noticed by Graham Barratt a friend on Facebook; the colourful umbrellas used by the dancers in the musical number at the beginning of the episode.
Graham wondered if the umbrellas were a ference to the colourful umbrellas that appeared so often in the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner.
The Prisoner was, as Graham pointed out, first aired in 1967.
Paul Higham, one of my blog readers, pointed out a connection between Dr Bakshi’s meditative words to Nick Wilding and a couplet form a Beatles’s song, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.
Dr. Bakshi says, “Clear your mind of all things/ Let go of all earthly attachments. Become a leaf on the river. You are drifting downstream towards nothingness. It may feel like death but it is not dying.
The Beatle lyric is: “Turn off your mind relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying.”
Cast of Canticle.
Kajsa Mohammar as Anna-Britt Clark
Pearl Chanda as Bettina Pettybon
David Reed as Julian Calendar
Phil Rowson as Steve Carter. Phil appeared in the Lewis episode Entry Wounds (2014) playing the character Ian.
Jonathan Barnwell as Christopher Clark
Matthew Needham as Dudley Jessop
Ella Hunt as Emma Carr
Michael Fox as Ken Wilding
Rebecca Lacey as Mrs. Finch
Dario Coates as Lee ‘Stix’ Noble.
(Left) Sophie Simnett as Pippa Leyton
David Sturzaker as Ralph Spender
Sylvestra Le Touzel as Mrs. Joy Pettybon. Sylvestra also appeared in the Lewis
episode The Mind Has Mountains (2011) as Caroline Eagleton.
Shaun Evans as DC Endeavour Morse
Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday
Anton Lesser as Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright
Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange
James Bradshaw as Dr. Max DeBryn
Paul Bown as Rev. Mervyn Golightly
Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday
Dakota Blue Richards as WPC Shirley Trewlove
Sagar Arya as Dr. Bakshi. Sagar played a doctor in the Lewis episode The Gift of Promise (2011)
I hope I haven’t upset those who enjoyed the episode but I have to give my honest personal opinion. I am still looking forward to the third episode in the series and i am sure it will be back on form. Thank you all as ever for your support which is very welcome. Take care.