TV Series Review -Endeavor

ABOUT THE SHOW

Endeavor is an ongoing British television series about young detective Endeavor Morse who is taken under the wing of his superior DI Fred Thursday as they investigate crime for the City Police of Oxford in the 1960’s.

For British detective series fans, this is an origin story for the long running series Inspector Morse which featured Morse as the senior officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Oxford Police.  But how did this irascible, classical music and literature lover, beer swilling, unrequited romantic become the head investigator and the difficult yet brilliant character Inspector Morse?

In Endeavor, we see hints to Morse’s personal background as well as his early years with the Oxford Police. He is not quite socially awkward, but his high brow interests, extreme intelligence, lack of personal ambition and unwillingness to pretend personal and professional interest where he has none, does make him somewhat of an outsider and a loner, until Detective Inspector Thursday decides he has promise and becomes his mentor, friend and father figure.

Each season is three episodes long and each episode runs for ninety minutes featuring a crime that Morse, Thursday, Police Superintendent Reginald Bright and other detectives must solve, while also advancing the personal stories of both Morse and Thursday.

REVIEW

The roles of Morse and Thursday are perfectly cast in my opinion with veteran actor Roger Allam playing Thursday and Shaun Evans in the role of Morse. Allam lends dignity, gravity and heart to his role, subtly showing the challenges of working long term in a field which can leave one jaded, cynical and even worn down while also steering Morse through those same pitfalls and portraying a loving husband and father to his family.

Evans portrayal of Morse is a revelation. Morse is a man with a difficult personal past who after a short time in the police force is already becoming disillusioned. Yet Evans youthful and innocent face provide a contrast to these challenges as well as to his sophisticated personal interests.

The relationship between the two is really the salvation of both and it is always a bright spot in each episode filled with dark criminal activity to see their trust, respect and dependence on each other grow. Although Morse’s analytical mind is always a key component in solving the crimes, unlike some detective series he realistically makes mistakes at times in interpreting the evidence, and it is the patience and belief in him by DI Thursday which always leads to the solving of each case.

Another highlight of the series is it’s setting in 1960’s Oxford. Fans of the BBC drama Grantchester will recognize and appreciate many familiar scenes. The historical feeling of the sixties combined with the graceful architecture in Oxford is almost a secondary character in this show. The camera certainly loves this familiar “face” although Endeavor also takes us into the grittier side of the city as well.

I must also comment on the music score composed by Barrington Pheloung who also composed the music for Inspector Morse and it’s sequel Inspector Lewis. Can I just say that it is brilliant? Each episode begins with music introducing various components of the crime. As the music is classical in nature it provides a unique and beautiful contrast to the potentially criminal activity the viewer sees. Each episode always ends with the Endeavor theme which has an uplifting, victorious sound and is a nice end cap to the solving of the crime.

The first three seasons of Endeavor are currently available for streaming on Amazon. The crime scenes are not overly graphic and yet occasionally deal with very dark subject matter. But if you love British television series (Grantchester in particular), and/or detective dramas, this is one I would highly recommend.

 

 

TV Series Review -Signed, Sealed, Delivered

 

In the last couple of years the Hallmark channel and it’s sister the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel have done an excellent job in filling and growing the niche market for clean, family entertainment. I have been a faithful viewer for many years now and find that some of their productions are better than others. In my opinion, their series Signed, Sealed, Delivered is one of their very best.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED SYNOPSIS

Signed, Sealed, Delivered has a unique premise which focuses on a group of postal detectives. The tight-knit foursome work in the DLO (Dead Letter Office) of the Denver post office. They are assigned with the task of tracking down and delivering mail which is usually so damaged that the recipient is undecipherable. These assignments usually take them out of the office into the world at large and the mysteries they solve often relate to their own personal journeys.

 

Please join me here at The SIlver Petticoat Review for the rest of the Signed, Sealed, Delivered review.

TV Review -Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life

Have I mentioned how much I adore Gilmore Girls? It ranks second only to I Love Lucy as my favorite television series. And I’m not the only one, as even after its’ final episode aired almost a decade ago, it continues to not only maintain, but to grow its’ devoted fan base.

So, when the news was released that there would be a reunion show I, like other fans, was thrilled and eagerly and impatiently awaited the new episodes which would reunite us with my much loved “friends”.

The original series charmed millions with its small town and neighborly feel, it’s fast paced and reference laden dialogue but at its’ heart were the characters and the relationships between them which attracted millions of fans and cemented the show as a modern classic.

Much as I hate to say this, after enthusiastically anticipating the continuation of the Gilmore Girls story, I found myself fairly disappointed. I don’t want to focus too much on the many things which I felt were not only a waste of viewing time but in no way added to the story, like the cringe-worthy yet hilarious town musical, the reappearance of The Life Brigade, Luke and Lorelei’s (thankfully) short consideration of surrogacy, Rory’s ill-advised potential book partnership, Lorelei’s venture into the great outdoors, the unnecessary celebrity cameo appearances and the list goes on.  It was great to see so many familiar Stars Hollow faces and yet the appearance of many of them felt forced and unnatural, with the exceptions of Taylor, Kirk, Babette and Lane. Paris, as usual, added great interest and yet although for the most part this series stayed true to her character, I felt her role at the surrogacy clinic just didn’t fit and was very uncomfortable to watch. Plus, she had quite a bit of face time in the first couple of episodes, only to be dropped, with no explanation in the last one. I also found myself frustrated with Lorelei who after all these years hadn’t seemed to mature at all and actually came across rather selfish at times. Thankfully, she did finally show some growth in the end.

But the worst of all, is what the writers did with Rory’s character. In my opinion, they absolutely ruined her. The Rory in A Year in the Life has very little in common with the Rory from the original series. Where is our confident, well-read, goal oriented, cheerful, thoughtful girl? I had a very hard time finding her in all that mid-life crisis (isn’t thirty too young for a mid-life crisis?), thoughtless, moping, aimless, home-wrecking woman who still calls her mother her best friend. I think I understand what the writers were trying to do, show her floundering in a real-life scenario where life doesn’t always work out like you plan. The long-term relationship with a boyfriend she can never remember, the affair with Logan (who is engaged), the one-night stand with a Wookie. Remember when Rory was career oriented and goal minded? When did Rory become the woman who has nothing better to do than juggle all the men in her life (I won’t call them love interests because there is no love involved.) Although I am a Rory and Jess shipper, I didn’t mind seeing Rory with Logan, but even that was ruined because it wasn’t a real relationship. Speaking of Jess, I did feel that his brief appearances added some spark to the show. Despite his faults, Jess has always been the one who sees and understands Rory for who she is and challenges her to be true to herself, which apparently is still very necessary. But I won’t continue to belabor the point.

On a positive note there were some things I loved about this new series, in particular Emily’s story arc. It was so nice to see one of the Gilmore girls come to terms with her drastically new life and find happiness. Emily has always been a cold, prickly character, warmed up only by her relationships with her husband Richard and with Rory. Although she floundered after the death of Richard, she eventually found her independence and her heart and was able to move on in a meaningful way without changing too much. It was funny to see her finally find a maid she didn’t end up firing after all these years, and giving up some of her tightly fisted control. It was nice to see how she and Lorelei reconcile without changing the balance of their weird dynamic too much.

One thing I really missed was Richard Gilmore. His character, could be gruff and abrupt and yet he also had a sense of humor and compassion. He was often the intermediary between Emily and Lorelei and his passing finally forces them to deal directly with each other. I appreciated that even though Richard is gone, his presence is still very much alive and very much a catalyst in A Year in the Life. In fact, his memory plays a very large role in the story. When Rory finally sits behind her grandfather’s desk in the last episode, I admit, I cried a little bit.

Another bright spot, was seeing Michel, Lorelei’s lovable, irascible assistant. His character remained true to the original series but we also were privileged to get a  deeper look at his personal life. Sookie’s presence was sorely missed and yet her appearance at the end was a nice surprise. When the Three Musketeers of the Dragonfly were finally reunited it felt like old home week.

As usual, the relationships between the main characters remained the main thing, which is definitely the heart of this show. Luke’s patient, self-sacrificing love for Lorelei, the mother-daughter love and conflict among the Gilmore women, Rory’s friendships with Lane and Paris, even the weird and random love and acceptance for Kirk by the town. Friends and family are still the focus, just a very blurred focus. The consensus at my house is that this story could have been told in a two hour movie versus a four part (six hour) series. There were a lot of superfluous moments and story lines that could have been removed to tighten things up a bit. Honestly, I could have watched the last half hour of the Fall episode and been happy (minus the exclusion of Paris). In fact, I didn’t really connect with the characters until the last thirty minutes anyway.

I am still a Gilmore Girls fan, and even though I wasn’t impressed with this offering, I hope that they will produce additional episodes and continue the story. I love these people and I want to know what happens with Rory and Jess or Logan, with Paris and Doyle. I want to see Kirk finally be successful and more of Emily as an awe-inducing museum docent. Will Michel really pretend at being a dad or will he fall in love with his child? These characters still matter and I believe they will always matter. I know they say that you can’t go home again, but you can, especially when there is love.

TV Series Review -Leah Remini, Scientology and the Aftermath

You guys. If you are not watching this show you really should be. It is an absolutely fascinating look into the shadowy religion of Scientology. Not only that, but it also reveals the unspoken psychology behind why people are drawn to organizations like this and how these same organizations manage and control their members while also building themselves into a giant business.

Leah Remini is absolutely inspiring in this A&E documentary series. With her strong New York accent and her assertive personality she could be in danger of coming across simply as an angry person with an ax to grind. Instead, she is channeling that anger and frustration with the Church of Scientology into finding the truth. Through her own story and interviews with various ex-church members, some of who were very high ranking, she is exposing the reality and the details behind this mysterious religion. She comes across as compassionate and empathetic in those interviews and while one can sense her indignation towards her former church she never sounds as if she has a personal vendetta against the people involved. At times, she almost appears bewildered at how an organization she was wholeheartedly devoted to could have been so abusive and also so fooled its members.

The interviews are heart breaking and some have left me horror stricken. It’s hard to imagine experiences like that could happen, especially in America, land of the free, and yet never be prosecuted. At times I’m almost in awe of the evil genius behind the tactics which keep people ensnared in a church which demands so much and yet gives so little.

Let’s be honest and call Scientology what it is, a cult. But it portrays itself as a religion. Scientology is not unique in this as many other religions are in actuality cults. However, religion is not the only venue which can be cult-like. In reality, business, government and many other sectors of society may not be called such, but operate with similar principles. Any group which desires to control and manipulate its’ members by withholding or feeding them only acceptable information, by preying on their ignorance or kindness to extort their money, or which threaten them with expulsion from said group or separation from loved ones, or who use any type of abuse to keep them in line is behaving like a cult. The misconception that cults only exist in religion is dangerous.

If you’ve ever wondered how a cult works, how people get sucked in or why they don’t leave, this show answers many of those questions. It also reveals the aftermath for those who do manage to disentangle themselves from such malevolence. While they may be physically free, for many the psychological damage that occurs stays with them forever. I, myself, personally know people who had been in a cult-like church and often found myself frustrated with them when years later they are still trying to reconcile themselves with the training/brainwashing they received. Thanks to this show I have a better understanding of what they experienced and will hopefully be more compassionate in the future.

I would recommend this show as a must see. It is currently airing on A&E on Tuesday evenings. You can see the episodes you may have missed here.