Inspector Lewis: Season 4, Episode 3

Your Sudden Death Question (19 Sep. 2010)
"Lewis" Your Sudden Death Question (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.7
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Six couples gather at Chaucer College for a competitive weekend 5000 pound trivia contest but several of he participants are summarily murdered.

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(inspired by the Inspector Morse novels of), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Your Sudden Death Question (19 Sep 2010)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Susannah Doyle ...
Ruth Gemmell ...
Robyn Strong
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Eve Rigby
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Lester Garvey
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Diane Baxter
Jamie Michie ...
Brian Kaye
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Donald Terry
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Alfie Wilkinson
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Ava Taylor
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Charles Milner
Natalie Dew ...
Sophie Barton
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Storyline

Six couples arrive at out-of-term Chaucer College for a quiz weekend with a five thousand pound prize. One of the contestants, womanizing know-all Ethan Croft, is murdered. Another, Robyn Strong, an old flame of Ethan's, is disappointed that he failed to recognize her. Ethan was a brilliant linguist but was sacked from the college years earlier after an affair with a student who is now married to another quizzer. Meanwhile, Eve, Robyn's quiz partner, is the next victim, after she has been heard arguing with Ethan. Passion, however, is not the motive, the killer being one whose guilty secret was exposed by Ethan's language skills over a past business transaction - with at least two suspects in the frame. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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19 September 2010 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Hathaway says of his missing guitar "her price is beyond rubies" he is quoting the Bible (Proverbs 31:10): "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies." See more »

Quotes

DI Robert Lewis: [to Hathaway] Everybody lies - especially about sex.
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Inspector Lewis Main Theme
(uncredited)
Performed by Barrington Pheloung
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What Connects the Murder of one Quiz Contestant with the Murder of Another?
19 September 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While Oxford University celebrates its summer holiday with dismissal, a Quizmaster Marcus Richards (Alan Davies) selects six teams of two contestants each, to compete for a 5,000 pound cash prize in a campus hall over the course of a Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. These teams consist of...

"Red Hot Mamas" pairs Robyn Strong (Ruth Gemmell) and Eve Rigby (Sally Bretton). While an unmarried Robyn has a two-year-old child, the married Eve spends time away from her husband to join her close friend in the competition, naming their team after classic singer Sophie Tucker's nickname.

"Nots" with Ava Taylor (Tabitha Wady) and Ethan Croft (Adam James), primary schoolteachers in Redding, derives its team name from the National Organization of teachers. Ethan, an Oxford alumni who had once faced a campus scandal, also works as a Russian and Eastern European language translator.

"Old Contemptables" with Diane Baxter (Anna Koval) and Brian Kaye (Jamie Michie), arrive, each bearing secrets of her or his own. When Diana visits Brian at his dormitory room, she observes his concealing a knife beneath his pillow.

"Toxic Debt" consists of Sophie Barton (Natalie Dew) and Alfie Wilkinson (Jack Fox), striving students with a sharp knack for quiz games, as well as for stumbling across bodies on campus.

"Class of '89" features Jessica Neill (Emma Cleasby) and Sebastian Anderson (Alastair Mackenzie), practicing attorneys who name their team after their Oxford University alumni troop.

"Grey Guardians" has Donald Terry (Timothy West) a veteran Oxford Professor, naming the team after "truth and beauty," and Charles Milner (Nicholas Farrell) a Professor of Engineering, who has previously overseen the construction of a campus building employing Russian architects for its construction.

Marcus Richards patterns his questions for the twelve with the couplet formula of "How does A connect with B?" seeking a one-word answer with explanation, sometimes presenting the quiz questions unto the twelve, and at other times placing one team against another, for immediate responses.

Meanwhile, the local law enforcement agency also makes individualized plans of its own to spend a two-day holiday off duty.... Detective Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) purchases two tickets for the Opera "Fairie Queene," while Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) packs his Gibson guitar to attend a Music festival in Somerset, while Chief Superintendent Innocent (Rebecca Front) reluctantly leaves for her cousin's wedding in Norfolk, while Doctor Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) makes reservations for out-of-town accommodations, while her escort purchases two tickets for the Opera "Fairie Queene."

And after quiz contestants are given the evening off from the rounds on Friday, with a 9:00 PM curfew to return to campus, Lester Garvey (Ian Mercer), Gatekeeper and Porter, welcomes Sophie and Alfie back late, as he prepares to lock the gate.

But when Alfie discovers a body in the quad fountain, he explains to Sophie that BFIW means "body found in water," and all bets are off as the Detective crew must now cancel its holiday plans. But James' guitar is stolen from his boot anyway, so he's probably the least reluctant to return to Oxford.

Well, the resulting investigation takes Lewis and Hathaway on campus and off, as they observe the continuing quiz program in process, while questioning participants individually, and heading into Oxford to question others, including Jean Croft (Susannah Doyle), wife of Ethan, who has been visiting her mother in Brighton; Susan Banks (Kazia Pelka), a Russian translator, whom Chief Superintendent Innocent agrees to hire at Saturday rates; Rosamund Franklin (Rose Heiney), a Librarian, who discusses which suspects may have happened by; Gwen Milner (Helen Grace), wife of Charles, an Oxford University alumnus, now a church organist with a past; and Mr. Davies (Paul Reynolds), a concert attendee who may have information regarding James' stolen guitar.

But on Saturday afternoon, Sophie stumbles across a second body, the victim of strangulation, after Laura identifies the cause of death of the first victim a drowning after a bruising altercation.

Robert Lewis presents his plan for suspects to essay their whereabouts on Saturday afternoon in order to compare notes to attempt to uncover conflicting reports, and from there to attempt to discover who's lying. After another series of questioning suspects, while suspects also answer another series of quiz questions, Lewis and Hathaway prepare to link the murders with a series of showdown scenes.

Comments: A promising premise may help to maintain viewer interest although this episode seems to veer from its course at times. Ruth Gemmell stands out in her role as one who fully realizes the tragedy of unrequited romance, when she finds a way to reunite with her first love as a teenager, and he not only doesn't recognize her, but immediately makes a play for her best friend, who's off the market, as is her former beau.

Clare Holman also delivers an exceptionally sensitive performance with her understanding and tender treatment of Whately's "Robbie," who doesn't seem to notice the lovely and attentive Laura through his long-term grief.

Nicholas Farrell adds dynamics to the value of this episode as an academic harboring a multitude of secrets, as does Alastair Mackenzie as a lawyer with questionable values. Jack Fox, the younger brother of series co-star Laurence Fox, and Laurence cleverly do not allow their familiarity to stand in the way of either's respective performance.


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