Appellate Judge James A. Stewart wants to see more American football punting on the Thames.
"Are you used to it by now? Violent death?"
The series title—just Lewis in England—might be the only difference in Inspector Lewis: Series 4. I didn't notice anything, such as profanity or nudity, that would be obviously nixed for Masterpiece Mystery viewers in this volume. There were a couple of gratuitous scenes of punting on the Thames, though, in the Oxford-based series of mystery movies. It appears instead that there's a slight difference in run time.
Facts of the Case
Inspector Lewis: Series 4 features four movies on two discs:
• "Wild Justice"—Lewis and Hathaway (Laurence Fox, Gosford Park) look for a friar who keeps appearing as the body count ratchets up at a religious conference. Meanwhile, Lewis and Hathaway both consider retirement: Lewis at his daughter's urging and Hathaway to pursue a fellowship.
• "The Gift of Promise"—A bust of Albert Einstein is used as a weapon to murder the head of a foundation for gifted kids. Somehow, this ties in to a book that describes the IRA killing of a suspected informant.
Even though Inspector Robert Lewis has been around quite a while, first on Inspector Morse and then in his own show, I haven't caught Lewis before this. At first, he seems a moody cuss, given to cursing himself ("I've been too busy looking backwards instead of concentrating on the here and now!") when confronted with a second murder. Of course, if he always did that, he'd be doing nothing else; there's always another murder on Lewis, at least in this set. Lewis can be a gentle questioner when facing a woman who emerged from a coma, but sarcastic and hostile with a psychiatrist who might have put drug trial participants in jeopardy.
Lewis can be a somber drama, despite its beautiful setting. Watching Lewis grumble at suspects can be a little irritating at first, but I liked Lewis better once I got into the show's rhythm. On the surface, Lewis appears to be the typical copper married to his job, but his interactions give him a bit of life. The friendship between Lewis and Hathaway allows for some interesting banter; my favorite bit had Hathaway taking the time to explain the difference between vertigo and acrophobia as he took ill on a rooftop, even though his problem turns out to be neither. There's also a very tentative romantic bond forming between Lewis and Dr. Laura Hobson in this series of Lewis.
It's Oxford, so expect literary references to abound. Only the vengeance plot in "Wild Justice" revolves entirely around literature, but the series expects readers to be at least open to the printed word throughout.
Lewis looks good on this transfer, whether there's a murder at night in a dorm stairwell or a quaff at a riverside pub on a beautiful day. The music delicately reinforces the somber, subdued tone of the series.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Despite the erudition and the well-crafted character relationships, the plots are typical for a TV mystery, with Lewis and his partners perpetually puzzling over links between the various murders.
There aren't any extras that would warrant a rental or purchase if you've already seen these on Masterpiece Mystery.
Whatever its name is, Inspector Lewis is a smart mystery drama. While I'd recommend giving it a look on TV, I wouldn't recommend the set for a purchase. The show's not bad, but I doubt it'll be one you'll be watching over and over again.
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Scales of Justice
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