Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lewis: Intelligent Design - the end of an era?

Lewis came to a gently poignant end this week after seven series, with a good two-part episode called Intelligent Design. The episode title had a suitable double meaning, since it seems to me that Lewis certainly has been a cleverly designed series. I admit I wasn't attracted to the premise initially. Much as I'd enjoyed Inspector Morse, I didn't think a series of sequels featuring his sidekick would work. But I was wrong.

There was a combination of reasons why they became a success. Kevin Whately is a reliable actor, and what Lewis lacks in flair he makes up for in humanity. His slow-burning relationship with Hobson the pathologist played very well, partly because Claire Holman's portrayal of Hobson was so reserved yet appealing The scripts were generally good, and of course the setting is superb,and the photography made the most of it.

But what I liked about the series above all was a character Colin Dexter didn't create, the new sidekick, Hathaway, played by Laurence Fox. The dynamic between Hathaway and Lewis was, in its way, as engaging as that between Morse and Lewis. And a word, too, for Rebecca Front as Chief Superintendent Innocent. She too was very likeable, and made the most of a fairly limited role.

Intelligent Design was a typically convoluted story, about a professor whose release from prison sparks a disastrous chain of events. There was a cameo performance from another Fox, Edward, and though I didn't believe in the scam at the heart of the story for a minute, that didn't really matter. It was good watching, and overall I'd rate Lewis as one of the very best traditional detective series of the last ten years. I'll miss it. But wait - we're promised Endeavour next. The Dexter franchise keeps on running!

9 comments:

Joni said...

The final season hasn't aired here in the US yet, but I must admit I have enjoyed Inspector Lewis even more than Morse. I agree with you that the addition of Hathaway was genius, and he is the perfect partner for Morse. I am all atwitter about your reference to Lewis' relationship with Hobson, as I've been hoping for some news on that front before the series ends!

Frances Brody said...

Yes, it was beautifully done, and understated. I love the way it was rounded off. Would have preferred a 2-hour programme rather than 2 episodes.

Not attracted by the idea of Endeavour ...

Lauren said...

I'll really miss it as well, and I was dubious about the concept to start with too. (Lewis actually aired on TV here in Germany, which Morse never did. I bought the DVDS though, because I have certain rules about where I'll tolerate dubbing, and Lewis wasn't one of those programmes.)

Hathaway was a very clever addition, and I liked the fact that the "clever" character neither overshadowed his boss nor was constantly being used as an example of how book learnin' isn't everything. Plus, well, I'm occasionally prone to being shallow...

Endeavour I'm also not that sure about, but I suppose we will see.

Sextonblake said...

Although it may well be the end of an era, I'm not certain that they won't succumb to the temptation of making another special(s) in a few years time. It was left nicely open ended. I'm also of the significant minority who like LEWIS more than MORSE.

Unknown said...

I feel quite sad that this is the final Lewis.I for one really enjoyed the more positive relationship and co-worker intelligent sharing of resolving the crime between Lewis and Hathaway.Also a reasonable and almost caring interdependence between the main characters.Although I enjoyed Morse I felt his irritability and lack of appreciation towards Lewis
irksome;considering that Lewis quite often saved Morse's arse.I hope they make more cerebral crime series.


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I completely agree that hathaway became the star of the show very quickly and it was therefore appropriate that in its closing moments it was his character that was brought to the fore. I wish Innocent had got a couple more scenes maybe - and yes, as you say, the college scam was pretty perfunctory, but plotting was never this show's strong suit really.

Jeff Flugel said...

Other than not caring for the Innocent character, I agree with your post pretty much word-for-word, Martin. It was a stroke of genius to pair the avuncular, earthy Lewis with another intellectual, and Lawrence Fox's Hathaway was a terrific character whose arc is nicely brought to a logical conlcusion at the end of "Intelligent Design." Sometimes (well, usually) the plots of the series don't stand close scrutiny, but the acting, gorgeous Oxford setting and classy direction, editing and music really make LEWIS a success. It easily rivals MORSE for me, which is high praise indeed.

I keep hearing about ENDEAVOUR being on the way, but it sure seems a long wait since the pilot.

Rita said...

I am part of the minority that like Lewis better than Morse also. And, having now seen the last episode...they left it open whether Lewis has really finally chucked it and even whether Hathaway really resigned. Part of the fine old detective tradition of Sherlock fighting Moriarty but not to the death; of Easy Rawlins going over the cliff but not to his death.

Don't leave us entirely! A new series with Hathaway as the main character, or Laura (!), with Lewis dropping in occasionally, would be great. One of the charms of the series is that the dogsbody got to be the lord of the particular detective manor at last. Hathaway or Laura as the "lord" would be very democratic (Hathaway is part "lord" by virtue of place of upbringing) and good choices.

Martin Edwards said...

Great comments and I do like your idea, Rita. Thanks everyone.