!!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 4, HARVEST.
First shown on the 29th January 2017 in the UK.
Chronologically this would be episode 17.
Directed by Jim Loach.
WRITTEN AND DEVISED BY RUSSELL LEWIS.
A body is found near marshland and is presumed to be the body of the botanist, Matthew Laxman. Matthew Laxman disappeared in the area five years before and with the finding of his glasses DI Thursday wants to open the cold case.
The disappearance of Matthew Laxman leads Morse and Thursday through beautiful countryside, a nuclear power plant and the beautiful, seemingly sinister village of Bramford.
Meanwhile, Joan Thursday is found by her father and she must make decisions as to where her future lies.
I am sure I am not the first to mention the resemblance of this episode to the, in my opinion over-rated film The Wicker Man, (I never read any other reviews until I have finished writing my own). I am glad that Endeavour never ended up inside a giant wicker man at the end of the episode.
This is a rather disappointing episode after last week’s excellent episode, Lazaretto. It is certainly not as bad as the second episode Canticle but unfortunately this episode has too many faults. As I have mentioned in other reviews there are times when the writing is more akin to an episode of Murder She Wrote or an Agatha Christie series.
The use of the old chestnut of a unfriendly village where strangers aren’t welcome wore out as a motif back in the seventies. I was waiting for Morse to enter the pub and the music to stop and all the customers and staff to stare at him. A villager then says, ‘There be a stranger among us’. It was all so twee and what was maybe worse the whole druid like antics of the villagers and their unwillingness to talk to Morse was all a red herring.
My biggest disappointment was under using Shelia Hancock. After all the build up over the last three episodes each ending with Sheila Hancock’s character laying down portentous tarot cards, NOTHING HAPPENS. Again the tarot cards where a red herring. The tarot card ‘death’ is shown at the end of the last episode, Lazaretto, and we all as fans assumed that there would be a dramatic death that would affect Morse. But there isn’t. I predicted Joan Thursday dying which I believe would have made for a better ending and allow Morse to move on from their doomed, unrequited love affair. A baby died but it wasn’t even Morse’s baby. It was either Ray Morton or Paul Marlock’s baby. Paul Marlock was the character from the last episode of the third series, Coda. he was a jack the lad who was only courting Joan to get information about the bank.
I do wish it had ended with Joan’s death and this would allow the series to move on. The whole affair between Morse and Joan is becoming like a soap opera and using it as a story arc just didn’t work. Russell Lewis has to start the next series with an end to the ‘will they won’t they‘ element to the Endeavour series and have Morse concentrate on his career and meet and fail with other women.
On the subject of Russell Lewis, I believe it is time to bring in other writers, some new blood. Thank you Russell for devising this series and getting it to the screen but I can’t think of another series where one writer has writen 17 two hour episodes by himself. The original Morse series worked partly due to the many great writers they used. The producers of the Morse series looked for the best screenwriters around at that time and it worked brilliantly. Mr Lewis, let go and allow your baby to be feed and looked after by other people. The other people won’t break or abuse or drop your baby if they are chosen wisely.
Another complaint is the ‘will he or won’t he‘ go to London scenario. OF COURSE NOT! We all as Morse fans know that Morse never leaves the Oxford police department. It is yet another red herring that has no drama or suspense. Unless of course you are completely unaware of anything that happened in the original series.
I believe it is time for the character of Fred Thursday to be written out of the series. I love the character and Roger Allam but a new DI for Morse would be breath of fresh air. It would allow the the character of Morse to have to adapt to a new boss and a new set of rules in that new boss’s methodology. That new DI should of course be McNutt. (N.B. the producers of Endeavour, make sure it is Scottish actor who plays the part of McNutt).
Don’t get me started on why the Americans were included in the plot. Why did they have to be Americans? Is it a sop to an American audience? Another red herring.
So, let us get to the good points about the episode and there were quite a few. As always and it is becoming something of a cliche but the acting by all was very good. My only complaint was the character of Seth Maddox played by Chris Coghill who mumbled his way through his lines.
The storyline was a prescient one regarding the dangers of nuclear power. It is only a few years ago that the Fukishima power plant went into meltdown. The preacher, Nigel Warren was wearing a CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) badge and the 1960s was a time when CND were coming to the fore having been formed in 1957. Actually the 1960s was a time when CND came closest to having people elected to Parliament. Nuclear power is as much of a contentious issue today as it was in the ’60s.
I enjoy that Thursday is not always shown as being perfect. Like other episodes he is shown to beat up someone and looks to being a policeman to never allow him to be brought to task for his actions. Violence is wrong especially when the attacker is a policeman but the 1960s and 1970s were infamous for the police using heavy handed violent tactics. The police force still has its bad apples today but I don’t believe that it can be compared to the 1960s and ’70s. Fred Thursday was of a generation of police officers where violence was something of a norm.
The storyline was a good one and would have worked just as well without the whole Wicker Man subplot. Let’s not start pulling at the thread of how the preacher and the Professor became allies or it will all fall apart. The plot could have focused more on the cold case involving Matthew Laxman and his investigation into the nuclear plant and been all the better for it. The episode could have included the County police, those who couldn’t find their arse with a map, getting involved and show the rivalry between the two forces.
There were many lovely and funny lines in the episode. Apart from the one mentioned above about the county police there was Dorothea Frazil’s calling of Morse, ‘Snappy Jenkins‘. “Snappy?” says Morse. “Well you can be” replies Dorothea. That line and Fred’s about county were worth the price of admission.
This episode is my third favourite of the series behind Game and my favourite of the series, Lazaretto. I’m a little worried for the series especially in light of the news that the next series is going to have six episodes. I am a great believer in quality not quantity.
I’m still looking forward to the next series even though it is with a bit of trepidation. My main concern is the standard of writing that can be maintained by one man. After the six episodes of the next series that will bring the total for the whole series to 23. One man writing almost 40 hours of television. Twenty three episodes is only ten episodes away from the number of episodes in the Morse and Lewis series. Will Russell end the Endeavour series on the 33rd episode? Time will tell.
It took two viewings to find Mr Dexter and it is a rather cunning way to have him in the show if not physically.
A friend of Colin’s has told me that they believe the bust is one that was created by portrait sculpture. Ruth Bader Gilbert.
The first piece of music is heard around the three minute mark. It is Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor, K. 626: III. Sequentia: Dies irae. (The K represents the Köchel catalogue. … The Köchel-Verzeichnis or Köchelverzeichnis is an inclusive, chronological catalogue of compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which was originally created by Ludwig von Köchel. It is abbreviated K. or KV).
More about Mozart’s Requiem in the section, ‘Connections to Morse and Lewis’ below.
Around eight and a half minutes we hear Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 by Johann Sebastian Bach.
At 27 minutes we get a classic from the 1960s. Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones.
About two minutes into the episode we hear the preacher, Nigel Warren, quoting from the bible. Revelation 8:1.
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal,there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.…
At about 10 minutes Morse and Thursday approach Nigel Warren as he stands preaching. This time he is again quoting from the bible; Revelation 8:7
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up …
At around 50 minutes Morse is talking to the American, Levin at the power station. He tells Morse that of course he knows Professor Donald Bagley as his book, Prometheus Unbound was necessary reading at university. Prometheus Unbound is a play by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus, who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity, for which he is subjected to eternal punishment and suffering at the hands of Zeus. Of course Shelley’s wife Mary wrote Frankenstein. That book’s subtitle is The Modern Prometheus.
At around one hour and 24 minutes the Preacher quotes again from the bible while in the power station. Revelation 8:8.
Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and a great mountain of fire was thrown … And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning…
The first and second time we find the preacher preaching he is standing opposite New College Lane.
Next up we have Morse and Strange walking out of the fish and chip shop into Ship Street.
When they reach Turl Street, Strange walks off leaving Morse to go in the other direction.
The village of Hambleden near Henley stands in for Brampton.
A very pretty village and it is easy to see why it makes a great location.
Next we have the village post office where Morse meets the village Post Mistress.
Now we have the place where Morse and Thursday talk to Dr. Tristan Berger.
And the Sexton of the church. The church is called St Mary the Virgin.
When Morse first visits the village he is dropped off beside the pub, The Hanged Man.
Of course the pub that is in the village of Hambleden is actually called The Stag & Huntsman.
On the way out of the village we find the house that doubled for the American couple’s house.
Hambleden has been used for many feature films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 101 Dalmatians, Sleepy Hollow, Into the Woods and the New Avengers, for major TV productions such as Band of Brothers, A Village Affair, Poirot, Rosemary & Thyme, New Tricks and Down to Earth as well as a variety of advertisements and promotions.
Up next we have the exterior of the botanic gardens where Morse and Thursday interview Alison Laxman. The interiors may have been filmed there but it could also have been shot in a studio.
The above view of the gardens can be moved 360 degrees by clicking on the picture and dragging it around.
After talking to Alison, Morse and Thursday go looking for Professor Donald Bagley. They find him in Magdalen College Chapel.
The painting that can be seen at the back of the chapel is Christ Carrying the Cross on His Way to Calvary by Juan de Valdés Leal (1622–1690)
The location that stood in for the local nuclear power plant, Bramford B, was Fawley Power Station. It’s located on the western side of Southampton Water, between the villages of Fawley and Calshot in Hampshire. The power station was shut on 31 March 2013.
Connections to the original Morse or Lewis series.
Well we have to start with the obvious first, Sheila Hancock.
Sheila Hancock was, as if you all didn’t know, married to John Thaw the original Morse.
Michael Pennington who played Professor Donald Bagley,
appeared in the Lewis episode Life Born of Fire, Series 2, episode 3 as Dr. Melville.
Adam Levy who played Elliott Blake,
also appeared in the Lewis episode, Falling Darkness (Series 4, episode 4) as Dr. Nicolae Belisarius.
Interesting Facts and Trivia
At around 52 minutes when Morse is sitting in the car with Ms Frazil he says, “Go west, young man‘. Now stick with me because this connection is rather tenuous and may fall apart at any time. The phrase that Morse used is usually attributed to American author and newspaper editor Horace Greeley. Okay so far. Mr Greeley was the name of the man who died during the night in the opening of the last episode, Lazaretto. With me so far because here is another tenuous connection. There was a character named (Dean) Greely in the Lewis episode Whom the Gods Would Destroy, (series 1, episode 1). Oh chills down the spine eh 😉
The scene in the nuclear plant was to me reminiscent of the excellent 1970s film The China Syndrome. It starred Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda. It is about a reporter who finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. If you haven’t seen the film watch out for it. The China Syndrome refers to a scenario in which a molten nuclear reactor core could could fission its way through its containment vessel, melt through the basement of the power plant and down into the earth. While a molten reactor core wouldn’t burn “all the way through to China” it could enter the soil and water table and cause huge contamination in the crops and drinking water around the power plant. Fukashima is believed to have been a China Syndrome according to some scientists.
We now know DI Thursday full name, Frederick Albert Thursday.
The episode opens with a mention of the an escalation of problems between Russia and American which resulted in what became known as the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962.
When Fred Thursday is talking to Chief Supt Reginald Bright about the disappearance of Matthew Laxman five years before he mentions that his old bagman liaised with County police. The bagman he mentioned was DS Lott. The character of DS Arthur Lott appeared in the pilot episode of Endeavour.
DS Lott was played by Danny Webb. Of course Danny Webb appeared in the pilot of the Lewis series as Tom Pollock. Danny Webb must like flying with all the pilots he appears in. 🙂 (A Dad joke). I was never happy that DS Lott was never mentioned again when Endeavour started it’s first series.
Around 35 minutes Selina Berger mentions to Morse that she was at the cinema in 1962 on the afternoon of Mathhew Laxman’s disappearance, “The borstal boy who became a runner.” This is is of course referring to the excellent 1960s classic film, The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. It starred Tom Courtenay who was a close friend of John Thaw. John Thaw had a bit part in the film.
The Mozart Requiem used in this episode was also used in the Endeavour episode, Ride but a different section was used. The Mozart Requiem is also mentioned in Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novel, The Way Through the Woods. In the novel Morse is asked what versions of the Requiem he has. Morse has five versions of the Mozart Requiem. He later buys another version but on CD this time. The Requiem also has a connection to an episode of Lewis. One of my blog readers, Jean, pointed out that the Mozart Requiem is being listened to by Hathaway via his headphones.
The scene is at around 34 minutes in the episode, Old, Unhappy, Far off Things (Series 5, episode 1). Hathaway has stayed up all night to collate and organize photographs taken at a fancy dress party. It’s actually a lovely scene due to Lewis realising how fond of Hathaway he is and how much Hathaway has a fondness for him. Lewis asks Hathaway why he has done all this through the night. Hathaway answers, “Well, you thought something wasn’t right.”
Endeavour mentions that he would be based at Tintagel house when he moved to London. Tintagel is renowned for its association with the legend of King Arthur. The Tintagel Castle is seen by many as King Arthurs. One of the knights of the round table was Tristan and that is the name of one of the characters in the Harvest episode. WOW how is that for tenuous. 😉
When Morse visits Joan in the hospital we see a sign for Fleming Ward and Hardy Ward.
A reference to two of Russell Lewis’s favourite authors, Ian Fleming and Thomas Hardy? I have no proof of that. There is a Fleming Ward at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. There is a Hardy Ward in the Northwick Park and St Mark’s Hospital in London. If you really want to grasp at the proverbial straws for connections, Robert Hardy starred in the Morse episode, Twilight of the Gods.
Sheila Hancock’s character name of Dowsable Chattox may be a reference to the Pendle Witches. Pendle Hill is in Lancashire. Anne Whittle alias Chattox was one of many who were charged with witchcraft in the 17th century, found guilty of murder and hanged.
In the episode at the nuclear plant they talk of the Goldenrod. Control rods are used in nuclear reactors to control the fission rate of uranium and plutonium. Interestingly, In Fukushima Japan, Canada Goldenrod has taken over the rice fields that have been temporarily abandoned because of the nuclear power plant disaster. Also, Matthew Laxman, was an Oxford……… botanist.
CAST OF HARVEST
Natalie Burt as Alison Laxman
Michael Pennington as Professor Donald Bagley
Joanna Horton as Selina Berger
Adam Levy as Elliott Blake
Alex Wyndham as Dr. Jon Levin
Emily Forbes as Ros Levin
Simon Meacock as Nigel Warren
Matthew Walker as Ray Morton
Grahame Fox as Zebulon Sadler
Chris Coghill as Seth Chattox
Sam Hoare as Dr. Tristan Berger
Shaun Evans as DC Endeavour Morse
Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday
Anton Lesser as Chief Supt Reginald Bright
Dakota Blue Richards as WPC Shirley Trewlove
Jane Whittenshaw as Morag Morrison
Sheila Hancock as Dowsable Chattox
Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday
Sam Redford as Sgt. Troy Martin
Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil
Sara Vickers as Joan Thursday
James Bradshaw as Dr. Max DeBryn
Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange
Raj Paul as a Doctor
To read another perspective on this episode read Hannah Long’s review of the episode at http://longish95.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/endeavour-series-4-harvest-episode.html
This is the final overview of series four. I hope you have enjoyed this post. I will be looking to return to my posts on the music, art and literary references in the Morse series. Take care.