This is a "later in time" following the Inspector Morse series. These mysteries are totally unlike those created in the US. They have deep characters I wasn't fond of the character of Inspector Morris series though Lewis was wonderful as his sidekick in that series (yes, there are even more series in this style!) But I disliked a character who felt as real as my next door neighbor. In this series Lewis has come into his own and has an at first elusive and then adorable Sgt in Hathaway. I have finished through season 4 and still have seasons 5 - 7 to enjoy. The plots are as twisted as a tiny village path and so rich in possibilities that I have yet to pick out the villain. Prepare yourself for enthralling entertainment that never disappoints.
This series is probably the best of the many I have seen over the years. I have been a long time fan of Masterpiece Theater -- from the very beginning. I love theater, particularly British, because of the use of language. The Inspector Morse series was good, but the writers for the Lewis series are even better. They've created an unlikely pair of men, who not only bring out the best of each other but forge a kind of intellectual and spiritual intimacy that is rare and the stuff of which great works are made. Part of this success concerns humor and subtlety. The series is also the best living example I can think of that demonstrates the importance of language in all its variety.
Bravo to the writers as well as the many actors who make the series come alive. Whately is superb, and tell Fox to give up his pursuit of professional music. I have no particular dislike of his musical efforts, but any one who can register what he can with a lift of an eyebrow, turn of the head, or quotation from Lear at just the right moment, should not deprive people like me of his acting abilities. I would like these people to go on until they drop!!! There is so much wrong in the world today, but performance is not one of them.
This series actually does get better and better with its complex mysteries, its spectacular settings, its superb musical score, and its outstanding cast, both the continuing characters and the supporting players, which, in each episode, present us some of the luminaries of the London theatre as well as film and television (This set includes Juliet Stevenson, Sian Phillips, Ronald Pickup, and Anna Chancellor).
The mysteries may be formulaic, but what a formula! They are elegant old-fashioned 'who-done-it?' puzzles that are nevertheless convoluted enough to keep us guessing, as we follow Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway gladly through the lanes of Oxford (and the camera focuses, for our benefit, on a carved gargoyle or gives us a closeup of one of the colleges' many gothic spires) to the gloriously picturesque scene of yet another ghastly crime in the hallowed university city that one might think to be the murder capital of the UK.
An essential ingredient of the formula is the ensemble cast of continuing characters: Kevin Whately as Inspector Lewis, Laurence Fox as Sergeant Hathaway, Claire Holman as Dr Laura Hobson, and Rebecca Front as Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent (What an ironic choice of a surname for a hardbitten Chief Superintendent of Police!). Their interaction--their humorous exchanges, their misunderstandings and tensions, as well as their mutual respect as professionals--represents the 'sand' that the brilliant writers have thrown into our eyes to distract us from solving the mystery until the last 'aha!' [or 'oh no!'] moment. In fact, Lewis, Hathaway, Hobson, and Innocent interact so beautifully that one can easily believe that they have become longtime colleagues, about whom we, the viewers, have come to care, as we would care about old friends.
I find myself laughing with Lewis and Hathaway at their little running jokes; hoping for the best as the romance between Robbie and Laura threatens to blossom; sympathising with both Lewis and Innocent, for different reasons, as each tries the other's patience; and even shedding a tear or two at some of the poignant moments that occur from time to time in the exchanges between Lewis and Hathaway.
I attribute my feelings of empathy to the remarkable abilities of Whately, Fox, Holman, and Front. Considering that the majority of their dialogue is devoted to the questioning of sundry suspects (Lewis and Hathaway), the enumeration of gruesome details about the current corpse (Hobson), or the barking at her wayward detectives because of pressures from budget cuts, Whitehall or the Chief Constable (Innocent), we are actually glimpsing only fragments of their 'lives'--fragments that have progressed gradually from episode to episode, providing the bread, as it were, for dozens of delicious murder sandwiches (slathered with dollops of ketchup).
To appreciate the subtlety of these performances, one must watch "Inspector Lewis" from the first episode. And the Inspector Lewis mysteries are so rich and complex that one can enjoy them again and again (PBS has thoughtfully provided closed captioning so we won't miss a word of Lewis's gruff Geordie--or Hathaway's silken Cambridge--accent).
I'm sending out three hearty cheers: to ITV, for continuing this outstanding series; to PBS for sending us the original uncut UK edition, and to Amazon for bringing it to us at such a reasonable price.
Lewis and Hathaway, facetiously referred to by their gov as "the dynamic duo," are back, untangling complex mysteries in Oxford. Watching them is pure pleasure. Hathaway is smoothly professional, his erudite and sometimes humorous utterances enlivening a character who might possibly be considered a little dry. Robbie Lewis, as always, is the essential good guy-- down-to-earth, sensitive, disciplined. But he can be provoked to wrath. Still hurting from the death of his beloved wife, he is beginning to come to grips with his loss, and seems to be more comfortable with the possibility of a new relationship. He's being helped along the way by the pert and sometimes peppery pathologist, Dr Laura Hobson. A match is obviously in their future, but it's nice to see them slowly warming up to each other. It's always a treat to see the beautifully shot scenes in and around Oxford; characters are well defined and the stories are full of..well.. mystery. And Barrington Pheloung's music is always wonderful.
Inspector Lewis has an evolving story of the main characters of each episode which intrigues the audience as they watch the investigation of a crime to determine, "who done it". Each episode has unique features and complex plot developments that pulls the audience into the story. The actors persona is depicted in clues and conversations that are well written and believable and often result in twists that keeps the mystery building and thereby the interest in solving it. The main characters; DI Lewis- Kevin Whately, DS Hathaway- Laurence Fox, Medical Examiner Laura Hobson-Clare Holman, and Superintendent Jean-Rebecca Front are endearing with all their complex interactions developed into the plot of each episode. These are well written, and acted portrayals of circumstances that satisfy and entertain as well as any good mystery novel. Simply well done very entertaining truly enjoy watching these episodes.