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Call me an Anglophile, I don't care--it's probably true. This is a
program for dedicated Anglophiles and those aspiring to be one. (LOL)
The continuing adventures of Detective Inspector Lewis and his trusted
sidekick Detective Sergeant Hathaway stand out for the strength of
production values, acting, writing, and direction that are credits to
the Masterpiece: Mystery! series tradition here in the States and
television anywhere. Unlike most reviewers, I've never seen the
Inspector Morse series which gave this one its genesis, but be assured
I will be checking those discs out on Netflix shortly. Just know that
this series stands completely on its own and is without peer, at least
in my experience. The principals all acquit themselves with increasing
wit and flair as the series progresses, creating a palpable matrix of
living relationships which provide the sort of ongoing back story that
insists you return, like that finish at the end of a wee dram of single
malt, for more.
The cinematography (this is shot on film, not video), score (it is far too high quality to call it simply "music"), sharp pace of direction, and of course the acting, by both regulars and guests, is more than first-rate--it is better than we have any right to expect. Oxford is a very photogenic backdrop for the stories which manage rather niftily to send up the upper class snobbery of England at the same time that it celebrates the hallowed tradition of academia and culture with which it is inextricably entwined. The squarely middle-class education and perspective of the older Lewis is also projected against the Cambridge-educated Hathaway, a lapsed theologian who is at once intellectually on par with these Oxford denizens while yet at the same time apart, due to the inter-school rivalry as well as his own lineage, which we learn more of as the series progresses. The subtle windups Lewis and Hathaway deliver each other are to be savored, for they are the real mark of affection and respect each develops over time for the other.
That each episode fills in certain intriguing details of our regulars' back stories at the same time it guides us, with red herrings aplenty, through the solution of some very puzzling cases is also part of the magic of Inspector Lewis. I find myself at moments ignoring the developments of certain cases, not because they are dull, but because I am so consumed by disclosure of personal details and the repercussions amongst series regulars. Their lives matter to us, greatly, and their relationships are not completely static.
Never dull, frequently witty, and almost always a step ahead of us, Inspector Lewis is a series that entertains at all times, often plumbs surprising emotional depths, and occasionally achieves the elusive grace of art.
I was sceptical when I first heard of "LEWIS". Morse had been such an
incredible series that I felt sure Lewis would simply cash in on it and
be a poor follow on. How wrong I was! Whilst I'm not saying that it has
met the incredibly high standard of Morse it is a truly great series in
its own right.
Obviously there is no John Thaw (what a great actor) but Lewis has now taken on the "old man" role and been joined by a wonderful "young assistant" character acted in superb fashion.
The story lines have maintained the complexity and interest of Morse. In true English style the clues are there but you will still change your mind on who the culprit is many many times during an episode. The teasing out of characters has been done very well so that even now (after 4 series) we don't know everything.
And then, of course, there is the picturesque scenery and wonderful architecture of Oxford. Sometimes I could just get lost looking at the background. Another great series , well worth anyone's time.
Lewis hits the spot for me. Great location shots of Oxford, typically
unbelievably complicated plots where the destination seems less
important than journey, and Kevin Whately's now rather world-weary
Inspector Lewis trawling his way through police procedure to arrive at
the right solution.
I like Laurence Fox as Lewis' laconic and slightly acerbic assistant Hathaway. This is a working partnership not one of close camaraderie - and that works for me. At least in series one, the writers have refrained from throwing random romance in the way of Lewis - other series go a bit too far with distracting love interests - and this means our heroes can concentrate all their energies on cerebral outcomes rather than physical ones.
All in all, a very competent and enjoyable series. 9/10
I expected that Lewis would still be good but not that it would surpass
Morse and this has happened and it's because the wonderful team of
Lewis and Hathaway.
The series only gets better. As Lewis once points out, the team of him and Hathaway together make out a damn fine detective. None of them is really the boss of the other even if officially Lewis is in charge.
I would go as far as to suggest that there is always an element of moral dilemma in the episodes. Certainly the team show high moral standards towards the surroundings as well as towards each other.
All in all, it's Hathaway that is the real surprise to the series and the casting of Lawrence Fox in the role is so good that it is hard to tell where Hathaway ends and Fox begins or the other way around. In fact, the character of Hathaway is so strong that it partly redefines Lewis who emerges as something considerably more than just Morse old assistant.
Damn good show.
The film was made to a high standard, in just the same way as the Morse
films, with lots of attractive shots of Oxford. The story is a bit
convoluted and not terribly credible - just as was often the case with
The two leads still have some way to go. Lewis is older, wiser and sadder, which unfortunately means that he is less fun to watch. He also, obviously, lacks Morse to react to, which was one of the most entertaining things about the earlier series.
Instead he has his sidekick played by Laurence Fox. He is OK and has potential, but he is not yet firing on all cylinders by any means. In fact, he seems a bit sleepy and is too deadpan. However, I fully intend to keep watching, and am optimistic that there will be good things in the future.
When I want to see an action film or a thriller, no one, in my opinion, beats stuff made in North America. That being said, no one makes better mysteries than the British, and the "Inspector Lewis" series is proof positive of that. Kevin Whately is a stand-out as the eponymous character, a diligent yet sympathetic policeman who wears his middle-class background as proudly as he does his badge. It's nice to see Whately taking the helm in this series as it's lead after playing the wingman in the "Inspector Morse" shows for so long. He doesn't try to assume the John Thaw role but instead keeps this character all his own. James Fox is the perfect fit as his younger, book-smart partner Hathaway, a dude who can quote just about anything from anywhere, thanks in part to his scholarly background in Theology. These two guys have a very believable chemistry as police partners who work with each other's strengths (Lewis has the hunches it seems and Hathaway has his logic) to solve the multiple mysteries that crop up in the college town in Oxfordshire where they toil. The mysteries presented in the show are never too easy to figure out, giving you just enough clues to try to follow along. Often times it's a really cool surprise when the who-dun-it is solved at the end. I also want to add that, in addition to a great cast, great writing and so forth, they don't flog you with loud obvious music throughout that gives too much away (though yes, there is SOME music and it's quite nice actually). I'm a fan of this show and I hope they keep this series with it's fantastic cast going for a long time to come.
This is a review of Series One to Seven of LEWIS (also known as INSPECTOR LEWIS). I never imagined that a sequel series could surpass the original (INSPECTOR MORSE), but this is what has happened. The stories, writing and direction remain of the same excellent quality, but it is the performances which really put the series over the top. John Thaw as Inspector Morse often overdid the querulousness and could be a bit irritating sometimes, which was meant to be part of his character. But now that he has the top job, Kevin Whateley as Lewis has really come into his own as a heavyweight actor of true stature. He has made Lewis into such a rounded and convincing character that he is more compelling than Morse ever was. (Perhaps this solidity of character is due to Whateley being a direct descendant of one of the three notorious Thompson Brothers, all of them Parliamentary colonels, of the 1640s and 1650s.) But even Whateley's superb acting cannot match the eerie and uncanny brilliance of Laurence Fox's performances as Detective Sergeant Hathaway. Rarely in a TV series has any actor created such massive complexity of character with such understatement and minimalism. Fox's work is sheer genius. One is tempted to compare Fox with John Hamm in MAD MEN (see my review), where we hang on Hamm's every silence, expecting him to speak, but when he does not, we accept the profundity of his silence as part of his secretive character and sympathise with him. This is very much the case with Fox, whose brooding internal life makes us concerned for him. The strong performances of Clare Holman as the pathologist and Rebecca Front as the Chief Superintendent are equally important in giving the essential fibre to the series to ensure its success. Holman's perpetual cheeriness is rather infectious, and all the more fascinating in that she shows it when inspecting corpses. This series (which will have a Season 8 before long) is a magnificent success in every respect. Dom Perignon all round! However, one does have a certain sympathy with the population of Oxford, which has been diminished by so many murders after all of these years that one wonders that there is anyone left alive in either town or gown. I noticed that there appear to be heavy filming restrictions in place, for in none of the episodes do we see the commercial district or the roads with the most traffic. I only recall seeing Oxford Market used once. We never see the High Street except for the small area at the end by Magdalen Bridge. Oxford comes across all glamorous and antique, and you would never suspect there were other parts of the town which are glum rather than glam. The Sheldonian appears to be everywhere, and every angle of that has been covered many times. Some of the colleges appear to have said no. I have never seen the quaint battlements of New College in an episode, for instance. We never see Magdalen's deer park, we never see the endless walks along the river, which are inaccessible to filming vans. In a sense, a mythical Oxford provides the backdrop for this series. But then, that strangely adds to the effect, for by creating the illusion of an Oxford that goes on forever but is really often the same locations shot from new angles, the illusion of endless murders seems only a natural part of the equation D = ME, where D is drama, M is murder, and E is episodes. It is clear according to this equation that the drama can increase linearly if either the murders increase, the episodes increase, or both increase together. No analysis has yet been made formulating an equation expressing the rates of increase, whether two murders per episode cause an acceleration of the heartbeat, and whether nonlinear phenomena occur, such as particularly shocking murders leading to quantum jumps, i.e. hearts skipping beats. I go to Oxford so rarely these days, but on one visit what did my wife and I see but Kevin Whateley getting in and out of his police car near Merton College as the cameras rolled, on the same side of the street as Anthony a Wood's house. Long may he go on doing so. And let us hope that some future edition of Athenae Oxoniensis includes John Thaw, Kevin Whateley, and Laurence Fox as worthies, which they clearly deserve.
British crime series are always worth watching - even if they are
longer than usual, having the length of a real separate film. Vivid,
but still realistic characters, picturesque landscapes-townships and
short (or sometimes even not visible) evil deeds form a quality
standard and widening the audience not keen on constant
explosions-fights-killings. I used to watch "Inspector Morse" - and I
liked it - and "Lewis" has the same high level, with one exception: now
the supporting character (Hathaway, played by Laurence Fox) is more
interesting to me than the main one. It is not the question of acting,
but the lines imputed to the persons involved.
"Only" 9 points from me as I like the new modernized Sherlock Holmes even more :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS *** Finally saw this new series on Channel 7,
Australia this week.
I enjoyed the nods to John Thaw (Inspector Morse). Lewis' fall in front of the Jaguar when he leaves the airport with his new sidekick and the use of a character's name, 'Regan' (The Sweeney) were nice tributes to Thaw's most well known shows. Not to mention the instrumentals, played by a support actor during the show. Very nice touch for nostalgics like myself. :-) Will Lewis get to the magic 7 years? Yes, but only if Whately is given a new love and a new lease on life. The sad sack persona worked in Morse, against Thaw's crusty, upper class character, but as a standalone, it will soon become tiresome from a viewers perspective.
It would be nice to not see a repetition of David Jason's down trodden 'Frost'. Surely not all British Police Superintendents belittle their case solving Detective Inspectors?! Kevin Whately has a chance to better Frost, Inspector Lynley Mysteries and others, but he needs a new approach, or his long faced approach may not see him through.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Of all the crime/mystery series that have been on television, I enjoyed
"Lewis" the most. At first I didn't think it was possible for it to
supersede my love for "Morse" but it happened quickly.
It took me a little longer to work out why. Even the stars of the show, Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, don't seem able to explain why the series is such a success. In an interview in Radio Times before the start of the ninth series, Laurence Fox said, " I've never quite worked it out. But I think that if you've had a bad day, then there's a soothing quality to Lewis. It's quite a salve. There's the lovely music, this beautiful city and these two men who are just gently walking around "
However I don't think that remotely explains it.
"Lewis" has two qualities that elevate it above the ordinary and it's not necessarily cutting edge stories. First and foremost, Lewis and Hathaway are empathetic characters; they have feeling for their fellow human beings. They accept that failings are also part of the human condition. Hathaway in particular has inner conflict over the direction his life should take while Robbie on the other hand is the more straightforward copper, but a great deal of his powers of detection come from an understanding of human nature.
The other quality that gives every episode of Lewis the edge is that they are buddy movies buddy movies par excellence. The boys have become friends, not just colleagues. That is such a powerful ingredient that I'm surprised more series don't employ it. It worked for Newman and Redford in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", and it works for Lewis and Hathaway. The buddy has your back, even after a falling out. They may be different types of people but these guys will throw themselves on a grenade for each other.
And look at what Hathaway brings to the partnership, he's bigger than Robbie and he is handy in a scrap. He also has untapped knowledge acquired in his search for the meaning of life he exudes all this without it ever being stated in the scripts.
Compare a show like "Lewis" with ones that have plenty of action, but where the heroes pursue criminals with the single mindedness and lack of emotion of Javert from "Les Miserables".
Robbie and James are a reassuring constant in a chaotic world.
Even the last episode of "Lewis" (and I am sorry if it is the last), "What Lies Tangled", may not have been one of the strongest stories but the ending is perfect. Incidentally, Laurence Fox was right about the music. Lets hope Barrington Pheloung gets another great series to score.
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