The British truly have a great tradition of high quality television crime dramas, and one superb example is Inspector Lewis, a spinoff of the long running Inspector Morse series. Series Six continues the pattern of excellence, and manages to keep the characters of Lewis, Hathaway, Superintendent Innocent and Dr. Hobson fresh and realistic. (Please note that this is Series Six only in the United States, because of differences in the way PBS aired and grouped the episodes throughout the life of the show. In Europe and the rest of the world, the below episodes would be considered Series Seven.
DI Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) doggedly pursues the murderers and criminals he comes across, ably assisted by the philosophical DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox). Lewis' long burning almost romance with pathologist Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) finally starts to take off, as she and Lewis take their first tentative steps to real romantic involvement. Oxford still has its share of killers, and there's plenty of work for the two hardworking detectives. Lewis is considering retirement, and the ongoing spectacle of man's inhumanity to man is making Hathaway question his commitment to the job.
The mysteries themselves are cracking good, with fascinating characters, deep and murky motivations, and fun twists. There are also a few great guest appearances, most notably from Peter Davison as a wealthy industrialist and Babou Ceesay as a young detective who assists Lewis while Hathaway is on holiday. (And if you don't know who Babou Ceesay is, you probably can't be blamed too much, but you ought to find out. He's really good.)
The main cast continues on with fine performances, adding new bits of nuance all the time. They make it look easy, and their interactions and developments are natural, organic and effortless. It's a joy to watch talented professionals at the top of their game work.
There are three episodes included in this collection, on two discs. They are listed below, with descriptive text included on the packaging:
Down Among the Fearful
Reuben Beatty, a research fellow from Oxford's Department of Psychology, is found dead in the offices of psychic Randolph James. Lewis and Hathaway soon discover that Reuben had been leading an elaborate double life, moonlighting as a clairvoyant. Can a fellow psychic help solve the investigation?
The Ramblin' Boy
While Hathaway takes time off in Kosovo, Lewis is assigned a temporary sidekick, young constable Alex Gray. Together, Lewis and Gray investigate the discovery of an embalmed body of a man who died of cancer. However, the crematorium confirms that a body was burned, leaving Lewis with one question â€" who was buried in the coffin?
Recently released from prison after killing someone in a driving accident, Richard Seager, a former biochemistry professor, is murdered â€" crushed to death by his own car. Between Seager's wife, his victim's family, and his colleagues at the university, Lewis and Hathaway have a long road to travel and a great deal to investigate.
Sadly, it looks like this may be the final series for Inspector Lewis. This is too bad, since there's been no drop off in quality or originality, and there's plenty of dreck that manages to soldier on. The only real negative that can be said about this collection is that both discs feature what are essentially commercials for Ralph Lauren and Viking River Cruises. I understand that Public Television has to cover their budget somehow, and that Inspector Lewis probably isn't a huge revenue generator, but it just comes off as unseemly, even though the spots themselves are tasteful enough.
Other than that issue, and it's essentially unrelated to the quality of the show itself, Series Six manages to give us thrills, exciting villains, and intriguing central mysteries, all the while providing a sharp insight into the human condition. Really, what else can one ask for from a television detective show? Highly recommended.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. The colors are vibrant and rich, the contrast is sharp. Other than a bit of mild posterization from time to time, there really are no problems.
Audio is available in Dolby digital 5.1 and 2 channel. It sounds quite nice, though not a lot is being asked of it. No hiss or other problem can be heard, and the dialogue is always audible. English subtitles are included, but no alternate language tracks.
Unfortunately, no extras are included.
Inspector Lewis: Series Six is a fine entry into the long line of excellent British crime dramas. The main cast is on top form. The supporting cast give their all, without a flubbed line or bad read to be seen. The stories are tight and well told, and the mysteries fun and engaging. This is good stuff. Go check it out.