Friday, November 22, 2019

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries

Sharon Smalls and Nathaniel Parker.
Premise:  Thomas "Tommy" Lynley, the 8th Earl of Asherton, is a detective inspector at Scotland Yard. Some of his colleagues consider him an entitled, college-educated "ponce." However, Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) is actually an intelligent, thorough policeman who doesn't make friends easily. In the pilot episode, he is paired with Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers (Sharon Small), who has a reputation for being difficult with male colleagues. She is driven to succeed in a male-dominated profession and exhibits pride in having attained her rank. However, she is also insecure about her working-class background and social awkwardness. While Lynley and Havers may seem like opposites, they click as a team and quickly earn each other's trust. Lynley is less lucky when it comes to love and struggles with his on again-off again relationship with Helen Clyde, a police profiler.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Status: Six seasons, comprising 24 episodes, aired between 2001-2008.

Production Notes:  The first three seasons feature adaptations of American writer Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley novels. In a 2019 interview with PBS, star Nathaniel Parker noted: "I think the dynamic of me, a boss, and an underling who is sergeant, who were different sexes and yet not being overly flirty, not playing on that, has also stood the test of time." In 2019, both Parker and Smalls appeared in other British TV detective shows:  Parker had a guest star role on Gratchester and Smalls starred in two season of London Kills--playing a detective sergeant again.

Our Review:  The episodes based on George's novels are superior to the ones written expressly for the series. For example, in a sloppily-plotted fourth season episode, Lynley and Havers leave the only copy of an important document in their car...and it's promptly stolen by the bad guys. Still, Lynley and Havers are a dynamic pair and play off each other exceedingly well. Their relationship is what propels the series. It also keeps some of the stories from veering off into melodrama, such as when Lynley and Helen (who comes across as very selfish) separate following a family tragedy.

Grade: B+.

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