Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Inspector Lewis (aka Lewis)

Kevin Whately as Robbie Lewis.
Premise:  Kevin Whately first appeared as Detective Sergeant Robbie Lewis in 33 episodes of the Inspector Morse TV series from 1987-2000. He reprised in the role in a 2006 made-for-television movie. Set five years after Morse's death, Lewis has been promoted to Detective Inspector and his wife has been killed in a hit-and-run accident. On his return to Oxford from a stint in the British Virgin Islands, the working-class "old school" Lewis is paired with Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), a Cambridge-educated young man who once studied for priesthood. Although Lewis and Hathaway share little in common, they make a formidable investigative team and eventually become close friends. Pathologist Dr. Laura Hobson (Claire Holman), who appeared later in episodes of Inspector Morse, assists Lewis and Hathaway.

Running Time:  90 minutes (some of the later cases are broadcast as two 45-minute episodes).

Status:  There have been 33 cases broadcast between 2006 and 2015. As of June 2016, all but the last seasons are available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes:  Detective Sergeant Robbie Lewis appeared in Colin Dexter 's 1975 novel Last Bus to Woodstock, the first of 13 Inspector Morse books. The literary Lewis is older than Kevin Whately was when he debuted as Lewis on the Morse TV series. On the decision to end Inspector Lewis after nine season, Whately said in a 2015 interview with The Daily Mail: "There were 33 Inspector Morse stories. I suppose it's a sentimental thing, but I wouldn't want to do more Lewis than we did Morse because I do still think of it as an offshoot."

Our Review:  Although Inspector Morse is considered a classic detective series by many, it never has appealed to us. Thus, we were initially surprised with Inspector Lewis, a first-rate series with clever plots and appealing characters set--like Morse and later Endeavor--in the beautiful city of Oxford. The camaraderie between Lewis and Hathaway, though, is the series' greatest asset. They play off each other wonderfully, with Lewis' uncanny intuition working in perfect harmony with Hathaway's refined intelligence. In fact, when Hathaway eventually gets promoted to Detective Inspector, it's almost disappointing because the relationship evolves ever so slightly (as it must). An added bonus is the long-time friendship between Lewis and Dr. Hobson, which subtly grows into something more over time.

Grade:  A.

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