Lewis, and the Ghost of Inspector Morse
It's been almost six years since viewers saw the last of the enigmatic detective Endeavour Morse (John Thaw) and his persistent sidekick Detective Sergeant Lewis (Kevin Whatley), when Colin Dexter killed the character off in the final episode, The Remorseful Day, only to be followed by the sad death of John Thaw in 2002.
However, the character of Lewis proved to be so popular with readers and viewers that ITV decided that it merited a follow-up series, and commissioned a one-off pilot to test the water.
I have to admit, I was cynical at first, but the quality of Morse productions in the past has never failed to hit the mark in over 30 feature-length episodes -- from the filming to the music, to the dialogue, acting and script -- not to mention to fabulous setting of Oxford in England -- and providing Carlton Productions invested the same time, effort and resources into Lewis, any fears of a watery sequel could be easily salved.
Warning: spoilers after the jump.
It turns out, there was nothing to worry about; Lewis hit the mark yet again, in every way imaginable.
The story picked up with Robbie Lewis returning to Oxford Police from a foreign attachment, carrying the burden of his wife's death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver three years earlier, and facing a dwindling career in police training -- but before finding himself embroiled in an investigation into the murder of a brilliant mathematics student.
Ably assisted by detective sergeant James Hathaway, a former theology student, Lewis embarks on a bewilderingly complex murder hunt and uncovers clues left by his late partner, Morse, hidden in the files of a related case from five years in the past.
The ghost of Morse was present in more than just the subtle crossword clues and Shakespearean references peppered throughout the plot; his presence was embedded in the sharp exchanges between Lewis and Hathaway, and in the sullen search for answers as Lewis slowly uncovered a complex web of deceit engulfing a wealthy car-building family and an honoured university professor.
Everything Morse had, Lewis built on; including Barrington Pheloung's sumptuous and motif-ridden music, as the straight-thinking, ever-persistent detective inspector Lewis groped his way through the intellectual minefield of Hamlet references and mathematical equations, to finally catch the culprit, only to face a typically Pyrrhic ending when the murderer ignobly commited suicide.
I sincerely hope the ratings were high enough for ITV to commission more of Lewis; he's a worthy character in an all-too-rare, high-brow detective show, plodding his beat through an enchanting English landscape and topped off with production values that could put the movie industry to shame.
Sunday nights would be a much better place with two hours of such high-quality drama to help round off the week.