Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Inspector Lewis: The Final Season
it isn’t so, Robbie. Thanks to the original Inspector
Morse (33 episodes running from 1987 to 2000), the prequel Endeavour (commenced in 2012 and still a
going concern), and Inspector Lewis, the
spin-off that made good (2006 to right now), Americans might think Oxford has a
greater homicide rate than Detroit. At least those cases had a high degree of
sophistication. After thirty years of playing everyone’s favorite Geordie
Detective Inspector on the Thames Valley CID, Kevin Whatley is finally
retiring, but he will go out doing what his beloved character does best in Inspector Lewis, The Final Season (trailer here), which premieres
tomorrow night on PBS.
retiring once already, Lewis has returned like a bad penny, as a DI contractor.
Instead, it is his once skeptical Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent who has
moved on. The new fast-tracked micromanaging CS Joseph Moody clearly rubs James
Hathaway (now a DI himself) the wrong way and gives Lewis concerns regarding
his contract renewal. Throughout One for Sorrow,
both DI’s and their Detective Sergeant Lizzie Maddox will deal with the new
boss’s constant check-ups and condescending suggestions as they investigate the
murder of a performance artist who incorporated taxidermy in her installations.
Of course, it also turns out the extra body discovered in an ancient campus
well is directly related to the high profile murder.
Sorrow is pretty
satisfyingly twisty and convoluted mystery, featuring Tim Pigott-Smith (the
once and future Prince of Wales in King
Charles III) as a slightly shady taxidermist. It also introduces the major
themes of the final season: Hathaway coming to terms with his dementia-addled
father and Lewis’s fear of losing what has always defined him, while finally
starting to get serious about Dr. Laura Hobson, everyone’s favorite
late-middle-aged forensic pathologist.
starts to settle down and realize how helpful a crafty veteran like Lewis can
be maintaining a high case-closure rate in Magnum
Opus. Viewers might even pick up a little Christian theology during this
case, in which a killer stalks members of an Oxford society inspired by the writings
of Charles Williams, probably the third most influential member the Inklings,
after C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Despite several dead mystical-evangelical
Christians, Chris Murray’s teleplay treats their faith with respect and might
leave some viewers intrigued enough to read Williams’ work (fyi, he also wrote
fantasy). As a further bonus, Honeysuckle Weeks (from Foyle’s War) effectively plays against type as Carina Beskin, the
first victim’s guilt ridden sister.
and Hathaway have a super high profile case on their hands when an apolitical
murderer targets an Oxford geneticist with a letter bomb. Indeed, What Lies Tangled is another case with
above average reversals and misdirection, but the real stakes involve Lewis and
Hathaway’s personal issues. Not surprisingly, they are both better at
diagnosing their longtime partners’ hang-ups than confronting their own.
Regardless, Tangled does right by its
beloved characters. There are no big life-altering developments or MASH-style tear-jerking goodbyes, but it
offers us a thimble full of closure while staying true to the show’s spirit.
was consistently well written and the telegenic
Oxford locations added a lot of flavor, but it is the chemistry between
Whatley, Laurence Fox’s Hathaway, and Claire Holman’s Hobson that made the show
such a reliable pleasure. (To his credit, new arrival Steve Toussaint’s Moody
quickly starts to feel like he belongs as well.) In a way, Inspector Lewis directly compares
to Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier, as they
were both spinoffs that established their own identity and had long runs
comparable to their source series. A lot of fans will be sorry to see them take
their final bows, but thirty years of Robbie Lewis is a remarkable milestone
for Whatley. Good show everyone. Highly recommended for all British mystery
fans, Inspector Lewis: The Final Season starts
tomorrow night (8/7) on most PBS stations nationwide.
Labels: Inspector Lewis, Series Finales