Endeavour, Series 8 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2021) Set fifty years before their broadcast, Series 8’s three feature-length stories work better as historical pieces than as full-fledged murder investigations. That said, Morse is back on track to morph from brilliant young puzzle solver into John Thaw’s slower, more jaded incarnation.
The Cinema Swindle
The Cinema Swindle by Terrance Dicks (Blackie, 1980) Again, a somewhat underwhelming mystery. Mickey, the most rambunctious but least interesting of the Irregulars, sees some action, but the others do very little. The book is most noteworthy for its frank, even nostalgic depiction of the seedier side of 1970s London.
Full Bore by William McInnes (Hachette, 2016); audiobook read by William McInnes (W F Howes, 2017) A gentle, rather wistful gathering together of memories and musings. McInnes presents recollections within recollections, the weave of his stories constituting less a riotous series of anecdotes and more an appreciation of life as a mosaic of shared happiness and small moments.
The Apparition Phase
The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean (William Heinemann, 2020); audiobook read by Theo Solomon (Penguin Audio, 2020) The first few chapters promise gothic horror and suspense. Then Abi disappears and we’re left with gormless Tim plodding through a paranormal scenario that is all setup, no delivery. A long novel whose plot might just about have sustained a short story.
The Land Before Avocado
The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a Lost Australia by Richard Glover (ABC Books, 2018); audiobook read by the author (Bolinda, 2018) Part personal recollection, part assiduous research, Glover delivers a time capsule of Australian social history for the years 1975-1985. Though the material itself is fascinating, and tragicomic in a ‘truth as satire’ way, the delivery suffers whenever Glover…
Endeavour, Series 7
Endeavour, Series 7 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2020) Morse enters the sordid 70s in a three-episode series that has lost its way. The crimes yield to regular police work (with little input from Morse himself); the overriding arc is built around Morse’s unaccountable love life, plus manufactured conflict with Thursday.
Endeavour, Series 6
Endeavour, Series 6 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2019) A rather despondent series as the 1960s start to give way to the 1970s (hence Morse’s moustache) and the old crew find themselves scattered to the winds. Morse in particular has to start again. Chief Superintendent Bright has the best character moments.
Children of the Stones
Children of the Stones (ITV, 1977) Notable for its eerie music and sustained sense of supernatural peril, this 1970s children’s television classic no doubt terrified many a young viewer. Though well acted, it’s unquestionably a mood piece. The final-episode denouement fails to make sense of much that precedes.
Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon, 2005) [collecting Black Hole #1-12, Fantagraphics, 1995-2004] Burns goes all out in this shadowy and grotesque, trippy mix of 70s teen culture, body horror and sexually explicit allegory (self-identity; belonging). The plot is deliberately abstruse, and though the black-and-white artwork is striking, some characters are hard to tell apart.
Life on Mars, Series 2
Life on Mars, Series 2 (BBC, 2007) Where it could easily have fallen prey to second album syndrome, Life on Mars continues seamlessly from its first season: uniquely, a 70s-style cop show with modern sensibilities—fast and funny—scripted for the brilliance rather than the length of its burn.