Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode One

howards s02e01

We open with a nice aerial view of the Tarrant marina.  And of course it’s another gloomy day (Tarrant – a place where the sun rarely shines).

Initially it seems that this shot was simply an impressive visual flourish, but it then becomes clear that Charles, in a helicopter, is hovering above the Mermaid Yard.

This is typical Charles Frere.  Most people would be content to lurk in the background in order to keep tabs on their rivals (the Mermaid are celebrating launching the Barracuda) but not Charles, he has to think bigger.

We then switch to the courtroom where the tug of love for ownership of the Mermaid Yard between Jack and Shellet is continuing.  But within a matter of minutes it’s all over as Shellet doesn’t exactly cover himself with glory in the witness box.  It’s a little odd to see this plotline wrapped up with such unseemly haste, although the aftershock rumbles on for a few more episodes.

The big unresolved question from the series one cliffhanger concerns Lynn.  We saw her tumbling into the water after reeling from the shock of finding Charles in bed with his wife.  It’s now the day after and there’s no sign of her, which concerns Jan.  Frankly, given that Lynne was stunned unconcious when she entered the water (and there was no-one about to help her) it’s hard to see how she couldn’t have drowned. Let’s wait and see though …

Jan asks Leo to stop at home in case Lynne calls, but Leo says he can’t – he’s got something important to do.

Ken (nattilly attired in a suit) shows his caring side to Jan, telling her that if they lived together he could share all her problems. When she mentions that she hasn’t heard from Claude for a while he’s not surprised or concerned. “What else can you expect from a Frog?” I love Ken, he’s a source of endless entertainment.

The hunt for Lynne brings Tom and Jan back together, although it’s an uneasy alliance. He’s as concerned as she is, but Tom (with no evidence) believes that the Jan/Ken axis has driven their daughter away. Given Tom’s dalliance with Avril this seems rather unfair. Jan Harvey is called upon to do a good deal of anguished staring into the distance acting during this episode.

We later find out what Leo’s important job was (of course it concerns Abby). Abby and her baby are leaving the hospital and Leo is on hand to play the devoted father. It’s a role he seems perfectly suited for (although since Orrin, the baby’s real father, is due to arrive shortly, it doesn’t look like he’ll be playing it for much longer). Despite being preoccupied, Leo does manage to provide a lead on Lynne, which sends Tom off on a collision course with Charles.

He’s not at his boat, but Charles’ secretary Samantha (Maria Eldridge) is. Samantha probably gets more lines in this one scene than she does in the rest of her appearances put together. Eldridge’s other credits aren’t extensive (a couple of Goodies episodes and a few roles elsewhere, playing challenging parts such as “Girl in Car” and “Girl with Gun”) which is a little surprising as she’s very watchable here.

With Tom not available to take the Barracuda out, Jack steps into the breach. He’s delighted (cue shots of the boat slicing through the waves with the Howards’ Way theme blasting out) whilst Avril’s not at all pleased that Tom’s left them in the lurch. Cue more anguished staring into the distance acting, this time from Susan Gilmore.

The tension concerning Lynne continues to ratchet up, although any eagle-eyed viewer would have spotted that Tracey Childs wasn’t listed in the opening credits – meaning that (unless it was a double-bluff) she wouldn’t be making an appearance. The final lines of the episode (Tom: “The police have just telephoned. They think they’ve found Lynne”) offers up a number of possibilities, although the mood is rather sabotaged by the fact that they dive straight into the end-credits – which this year features the dreaded vocal version of the theme. I’m not a fan …..

4 thoughts on “Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode One

  1. Oh, bliss… here’s my favourite waste of time again… Dear Blogger – beware, I am completely bonkers about aspects of this salty, soapy drama… and my favourite aspect is the touching “will they, won’t they” story of young love: Leo and Abby’s plot. I find these two endearing young oddballs quite irresistible. They are unlike average youngsters of any period and on balance probably the most upright – though much maligned – characters in the series. Abby’s sudden aberration in the last series and their – apparently irreconcilable – estrangement left me absolutely fuming and I remain convinced that the story was meant to be taken further, perhaps to a suitably schmalzy happy ending, in the never-attempted series 7, 8 or 9….
    But I digress. So back to the matter in hand.

    Shellet is one of my least favourite characters, unhinged and a little like from another story altogether…

    The unresolved questions about Lynne’s cliffhanger may have been due – like much of the confusion in the whole series – to the economies with the scripts and editing…

    Ditto “a good deal of anguished staring into the distance” – there are two types of these scenes throughout the series, one is a solo turn to suggest worry or thoughtfulness, and the other a theatrically blocked two-hander (starting in series 1 with the scenes between Jan and Tom discussing his redundancy). Scenes of this type feature two actors facing the camera (i.e. the audience), one standing closer and the other further back. The latter delivers his/her lines to the former’s back, during which time the former has a lot of anguished staring into the distance past the camera to do. This is normal in the theatre when the audience are expected to observe the facial reactions of both players – but in the tv/film situation one would expect the actors to behave in a more natural way. If they do not, it is because either a): the director has no understanding of the cinematography, or more likely, b): there is not enough time and/or money to allow for filming both actors separately and then editing the scene to suggest a normal face-to-face conversation.

    And Leo playing the devoted father to Abby’s baby and generally being thoughtful, caring and dependable – isn’t it enough to melt anyone’s old romantic heart? Again, a look in the book based on Glaister’s original idea provides further interesting clues: Leo was actually considering offering to marry Abby in case Orrin didn’t show up.


  2. I know it’s part of the production schedule, and viewing times, but despite being the “next day” it feels like 9 months have passed – including Jan’s new hairdo. A bit jarring when watching reruns on Drama and seeing this ep the day after the cliffhanger!


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