Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Sean Rigby, Anton Lesser, Dakota Blue Richards, James Bradshaw, Caroline O’ Neil, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Paul Brown, Pearl Chanda, Sharlette Henry, Phil Rowson, Sophie Simnett, Ella Hunt, Michael Fox, Jonathan Barnwell, Dario Coates, Will Payne, William Ilkley, Sagar Ayra, Matthew Needham, David Sturzaker, Rebecca Lacey, Kaisa Mohammar, David Reed.
The hedonism of the 60s can either inflame passions to the point of ecstasy or be seen as a reminder of a period in which society lost its way; the so called guardians of the nation’s morals having a field day in their insistence that the country needed protecting from itself and those whose eyes had been opened to the dangers that were still present in the minds who had so much to lose even after two decades since the end of World War Two.
That hedonism was a spark for a revolution, a cultural civil war between the old and tired guard which reeked at times of hypocrisy and led by the moralistic of them all Mary Whitehouse and the free and unashamed, try anything because life is for living and not for being caught up in the endless rows about certain words of alleged profanity and what constitutes decent and ethical behaviour. Both sides are singing from the song book, just on opposite sides of the paper, the Canticle being praised as much as possible.
The time of the summer of love was meant to be a crossing point, the promised revolution that never appeared and the possibilities in art perhaps easily shot down. For some though such as Mrs. Joy Pettybon and her crusade against the declining morals of the nation and against Rock music in general, that revolution must never start, the first shot, although already fired, must be erased from the hymn books and the name of her Lord preserved.
Canticle is a great story but wrapped up in the issue of slight farce, it doesn’t quite do the issues that surrounded the era and the real problems that forced the likes of Mary Whitehouse to believe they had a pre-ordained right to preach to the young about sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. It finds amusement with name play, with allusion to bands such as Pink Floyd and certainly to Syd Barrett, to a period of time that is defining culturally but one not without its own hang ups; the revolution that was promised crashed and burned only because it couldn’t be taken seriously in the end.
Standing between the old and the new, between the superb Sylvestra Le Touzel as the attention seeking, God fearing Christian Mrs. Joy Pettybon and Matthew Needham’s Dudley Jessop, a man who spent time in prison for breaking archaic blasphemy laws is Endeavour Morse and it is in the final scenes of the episode in which his own nightmares are shown to come through; a drug to far for many, hedonism’s own downfall played out in the eyes of the law.
Canticle is a very good episode of Endeavour but one that seemed to not go far enough in capturing the true mood of the times, one that sets the tone though for viewers to re-explore the Morse series and his disdain for certain elements of youth culture.
Ian D. Hall