PBS // 2007 // 1800 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 22nd, 2011
Eat it 1%.
Here's a stuffy British series the Occupy Wall Street rabble can get behind. Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) find themselves consistently ensconced in murder investigations that involve the haves of British society. Whether it's a secret club, a university department, a ring of art forgers, a band of quiz show fanatics (really), or shady pharmaceutical reps, this dynamic investigative duo seems to attract the high and mighty.
And with cold precision, they nail the douchebags.
Inspector Lewis is a fine series, further evidence that no one does mystery better than the Brits. This complete collection features the show pilot and all four series. That's ten discs, 20 feature-length episodes, and over 30 hours of crime-fighting. By any standard that's a) a lot of crime-solving entertainment, and b) an astonishing amount of death and despair in the bucolic wilds of British academia.
Namely, Oxford, where much of the show takes place. It's a good setting; the university allows Lewis and Hathaway to encounter a variety of colorful characters, from upper-crust administrative bigwig types to flighty students obsessed with fantasy literature. In between their trips to Oxford (that place is deadlier than Sierra Leone), Whately and Hathaway stick their noses into religious corners (apparent suicide of a priest, an evangelical Christian suspected of murder) and an all-female girl college. Really, the sky is the limit with these twenty 90-minute mysteries, and the writers ensure their detectives are dispatched to all manner of bloody locale.
Storytelling is solid and acting is top-flight. You'll recognize many faces that have turned up in supporting roles in TV and film. Anchoring it all is Whately and Fox. The two bring disparate personalities to their characters, yet neither pop out to me as creations of particular noteworthiness. Lewis is tad more animated and willing to mix it up when need be. Hathaway is his counter-balance, a stone-faced detective who embraces logic and is willing to talk smack to his superior when need be. They may not be as memorable and charismatic as the iconic TV investigators of our time, but they're well written and act as engaging foils.
Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series doesn't offer up any extras, but this set sports some nice tech credentials: clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers, plus 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround mixes (depending on the year of the release).
There is more mystery here than you can shake a stick at. Literally. I tried
shaking a stick at this set and failed. Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1800 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated