PBS // 2013 // 279 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // August 21st, 2013
"I've been going on about retiring for ages. It's time I chucked it in." -- Inspector Robert Lewis
Regular viewers of Inspector Lewis will find a surprise at the end of Series 6. The Oxfordshire DCI starts talking about spending more time with his girlfriend -- a coroner who, he notes, often has moments with him over a dead body -- and his grandkids. By episode's end, both Lewis (Kevin Whately, The English Patient) and colleague DI James Hathaway (Laurence Fox, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) are ready to quit.
Inspector Lewis, of course, is a sequel to Inspector Morse, with Kevin Whately continuing from that long-running ITV series that adapted Colin Dexter's novels.
Inspector Lewis: Series Six features three made-for-television movies.
* "Down Among the Fearful" -- Polly thinks her psychologist husband is seeing another woman, but her intuition's slightly off: he's actually been a psychic -- claiming to talk to people on the other side. He couldn't do it in life, but he's got his chance now.
* "The Ramblin' Boy" -- When an embalmed body turns up, Inspector Lewis is naturally wondering who -- or what -- is in the cremated coffin. He's also tangling with Peter Faulkner (Peter Davison, Doctor Who), who's particularly prickly because his wife is entangled with a copper.
* "Intelligent Design" -- A biochemist who championed intelligent design doesn't last long after his release from prison for a motoring death. There's a word scrawled with a key for Lewis and DI James Hathaway to check on. They'd better figure out the meaning fast, since the death toll rises.
One gets the feeling that the finale for Inspector Lewis wasn't all that long in the planning stages. The story is a typical franchise outing, starting with the irony in the fact that the victim was run over by the death car, his own car, and getting into two sets of motives: the bereaved family's anger and academic dishonesty. Like all of the cases, Lewis and Hathaway are plunged into both worlds, with the focus on the guest turns. Lewis even starts with a routine dinner date, attempting to cook for Laura Hobson (Claire Holman, Inspector Morse) while getting pointers from Hathaway on the phone. At the same time, though, Lewis' departure feels inevitable from the moment he starts talking about retirement.
Moreover, PBS doesn't really call attention to the finality of it on the DVD case. If you don't already know it's the end for Inspector Lewis, you're likely to be surprised. That means there are no elegies or other farewells on the DVDs; there are no extras.
Still, Inspector Lewis ends on a reasonably good note, with Lewis and Hathaway, both leaving the Oxfordshire constabulary by the end, sipping pints while looking out on the Thames.
Other than the departure of Inspector Robert Lewis, it seems like a routine season, with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox methodically going through their cases, with some good character turns from suspects, and understated characterization from the regulars. Even an episode earlier, Hobson recalls a date with Lewis where he stared out into the river; she thought he was getting dreamy, but he acknowledges that he thought -- for a moment -- that a log was a dead body, spoiling the moment twice. Lewis and Hobson have settled in as a visibly loving couple, holding hands on their way to interview a suspect, without drawing attention away from the mysteries.
There is a tendency to lapse into TV cliche at times: Lewis and Hobson arrive to interview that suspect just in time to stop a murder attempt, and Hathaway's humanitarian vacation just happens to take him to the spot in Eastern Europe where Lewis is going to need some additional legwork. Still, the stories are solid, and the cast is likable.
PBS' DVD presentation, as always, offers up a solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, whose shots of beautiful Oxfordshire draws viewers into this world. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track is a step up from previous 2.0 Stereo offerings, but there are no supporting bonus features.
The departure of Inspector Robert Lewis may be a must-buy for devoted fans of Inspector Lewis, but others may want to catch up on back seasons or look for the episodes online, especially with no extras. The episodes can be found on Amazon.com.
The end of Inspector Lewis isn't one of those endings that'll go down in TV history like M*A*S*H or The Fugitive. If you're going to buy this last season set, you probably made the decision back in the opening statement. It's a solid season of stories and a reasonably fitting end for an understated TV sleuth, but there's no special tribute that makes it a must-have for fans.
Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 279 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated