Howards’ Way – Series Four, Episode Five

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Whatever happened to all the environmentalists down Tarrant way?  A few years back the proposed Marina development had them out in droves, but Ken’s new plan to turn a bird sanctuary into an oil field doesn’t attract even a murmur of protest.

Not even Leo, once upon a time the Earth’s friend, seems bothered.  Although it may be that he doesn’t know that Ken has earmarked the sanctuary (and presumably most of the birds) for destruction, even though he is aware that Ken’s interested in oil.

Another episode, another argument between Leo and Abby.  This one takes place at Leisure Cruise and only the sudden arrival of Ken puts an end to hostilities.  I do like the way that Ken mutters “don’t mind me” and then daintily walks past them.  A little bit of Stephen Yardley business maybe?

Ken’s feeling very pleased with himself.  If Gerald and Sir Edward decide to join him in his oil venture then he’s convinced they’ll all make a great deal of money.  And even though he’s yet to get their signatures on the dotted line, he’s already eyeing up ways to spend his new fortune.  Do you get an inkling that this is all going to come crashing down very soon?

Avril and Gerald are also having a humdinger of an argument, although this is business, not personal.  The arrival of Charles, in a natty blue suit, gives them pause – although both are a little disappointed that he’s not returned to take over the reigns.  But Charles does say he will be back “sometime” which is something of a change from the previous episodes, where he seemed to have retired for good.  A slight inconsistency in the scripting or is it more that we should never believe everything Charles says?  Like his father, Charles Frere can be a devious man.

Jack’s in a jolly mood today.  A very jolly mood.  Singing Yellow Submarine, he’s a little ray of sunshine (something which isn’t appreciated by everybody – especially Emma).  Sir Edward pops by the Mermaid and although he’s disappointed that Tom isn’t there, decides not to waste his time and asks Jack to dinner at Highfield.  Bill may not have any lines during this unexpected invitation, but Robert Vahey steals the scene anyway – mainly due to the way his eyes dart from Jack to Sir Edward and then back again.  Those eyes speak a thousand words.

By rights Jack should be a little down in the dumps, since Gerald has rejected his new boat proposal.  But he’s not at all downhearted and decides to raise the money via a three horse accumulator.  Kate, of course, is the racing expert, so he heads off to the boutique to seek her advice.  Jack/Kate scenes are always a joy and this one is no exception – plus we have the added bonus of Polly in the middle (who clearly regards Jack as the lowest form of life imaginable).  When he ever-so-politely asks Polly if he can use their phone, she tells him that no, he can’t.  “This is a boutique, Mr Rolfe. It is not the tap room of a pub, or the billiard hall”.

Jan’s in Italy (although the production clearly never left the UK).  Quick stock shots of the colosseum and a policeman do their best to create a continental atmosphere.  Jan’s popped over to speak to Anna and we later learn that they had a good conflab, although we never actually see her (she’s not a character who returned this year).

Jan then encounters John Soames (David Saville), an English accountant working for a top Italian fashion house.  He’s smooth (very, very smooth) and Jan is happy to accept his invitation to lunch.  Soames quizzes her about her marital status – Jan tells him that she’s divorced and admits that it’s something she regrets (was this the first gentle step to paving the way for an eventual Jan/Tom reconciliation?).  It’s telling that she doesn’t mention Sir Edward …..

Everything’s going swimmingly until Soames casually tells her that he’s got a company flat with a very large bed.  Would she like to stay over for a couple of days?  Uh oh.  She tells him not to be so silly and in an instant he switches from convivial to menacing, muttering that he’s going to ruin her company (given the already perilous state it’s in, he may not have to bother).  A little hard to believe that Jan, already with more than her share of bad luck, would instantly make such an implacable enemy, but this is Howards’ Way, not real life.

Sir Edward’s rather jealous when Jan, back in Blighty, tells him about Soames although their argument (today’s episode is a very combative one) is cut short when Tom arrives.  It’s all a bit awkward, Tom walking in on a tiff between his ex-wife and her (possible) new beau, but Tom’s more concerned with Sir Edward’s autocratic handling of the America’s Cup team.  Earlier he told Emma that Sir Edward was “a madman” and this meeting doesn’t do anything to ally his fears.  Tom wants to pick the people he works with, but Sir Edward isn’t having it.  Not at all.  Something’s got to give here.

Avril seems quite recovered after her funny turns last time, but now that her memory has returned in full she tells Charles she can’t marry him after all.  Like everything else these days, he takes it well.  Will nothing shake him out of his torpor?  Ah, maybe ….

And it’s all quite clever.  Sir John (on Sir Edward’s urging) lets Charles know that Gerald is considering a joint venture between Frere Holdings, Sir Edward’s company and Ken Masters.  What does Charles think of this?  “Ken Masters and my father? It’s a perfect description of hell on earth”. So this serves as the trigger to bring Charles back to his senses.  Gerald’s gratefully back to being a dutiful second in command, whilst Charles regains the hotseat.

What’s clever about this is that Sir Edward had no interest in Ken’s plan, but he knew exactly how Charles would react once he learnt that a joint venture was in the offing.  So it was Sir Edward who was able to manipulate Charles back into business (something which he’s blissfully unaware of at present).

This leaves Ken holding the baby.  With the clock ticking, he’s sitting in the bank waiting for his partners to show up.  They don’t of course, and since he can’t afford to seal the deal by himself, it’s all off.  Poor Ken – used and then tossed aside by Sir Edward.  For a brief few minutes he had the taste of the high life (expensive yachts, bikini-clad totty) but now he’s been brought back to earth with a bump.

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3 thoughts on “Howards’ Way – Series Four, Episode Five

  1. I am getting a little tired with Leo’s churlish behaviour towards Abby. She is very patient with him and doing her best to keep the friendship on an even keel, yet he seems to be stuck in a somewhat hostile mode. This is very unlike Leo. I can’t believe that they have lost their ability to communicate sensibly or that they have no opportunity to talk and clear the air without being interrupted all the time. It would appear that her insistence on getting her son back (which would mean that, at least for the moment, she’s decided against returning to America) makes him feel insecure. And this is just one example. It actually bothers me a little that, in order to create dramatic conflict, various storylines in “Howards’ Way” often look for obstacles where there shouldn’t be any. The series undoubtedly had great potential but such evident weaknesses in the scripts and/or clumsy editing result in trivializing the drama and making parts of it appear unreal.

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    • Part of the problem with continuing drama – five times a week soaps are the worst offenders – is that the characters have to be constantly in conflict.

      HW, by virtue of only running part of the year, never descends into the ridiculous plot contrivances of modern soaps, but there are times when characters are called upon to act in a certain way purely to further the plot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I fully accept it. This is, of course, true of any drama – there wouldn’t be much interest without some sort of conflict and it calls for a very skilled writer to plot gripping stories which are also believable. I still get annoyed by plots which in my opinion could and should be a little more realistic. My problem is that while I am unable to lose myself completely in a fairy tale, I often try to improve it at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

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