Lewis 3.04 Counter Culture Blues (2009, TV) – 2/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Helen Baxendale: Caroline
Simon Callow: Vernon Oxe
David Hayman: Richie Maguire
Anthony Higgins: Franco
Joanna Lumley: Esme Ford
Hilton McRae: Mack
Perdita Weeks: Kitten
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Original Story): Nick Dear
Writer (Screenplay): Guy Andrews
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bill Anderson

Lewis 3.04 Counter Culture Blues (2009)

Lewis is thrilled to find an old famous rock band involved in his latest case but when a possible misdemeanour turns to murder… Man, I can’t even write it, man.

2/10

Staggeringly poor murder mystery episode that is incompetently written and directed. The cast are largely quite good, especially given the astonishing sequence of events that their characters are unconvincingly put through. At one point, Lewis name-checks Morse and his methods and proceeds to layout the suspects and victims using condiments. Morse never did that. However, it is the introduction of what appears to be a mechanical Sarlacc that proves to be the element that raises the eyebrows the most and you spend the remainder of the episode suppressing groans of dismay until it inevitably is used in the fake-exciting climax. This is an atrocious end to an otherwise decent season.

This Lewis episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and substance abuse and gun violence.

Links

Lewis 3.02 The Quality of Mercy (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Maureen Beattie: Professor Denise Gregson
Geoff Breton: Joe Myers
Bryan Dick: Phil Beaumont
Abby Ford: Isabel Dawson
Daisy Lewis: Emma Golding
Ronan Vibert: Simon Monkford
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Screenplay): Alan Plater
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bille Eltringham

Lewis 3.02 Quality of Mercy, The (2009)

An actor is murdered during a performance of The Merchant of Venice and it seems he was universally disliked, if admired for his thespian ability. Hathaway pursues a side-case involving a small-time crook and stumbles on to something that forces him to reevaluate his relationship with Lewis.

6/10

When Kevin Whately is smiling and chummy and cheerful, he is quite good and eminently watchable. When he is not, as the writers keep insisting on here, he just looks like he is trying to grow more folds of skin. This includes repeated subtly meaningful comments regarding his own bereavement (his wife was needlessly killed before the series began, both artistically and plot-wise) before culminating in a number of strong scenarios late on. As ever, Whately isn’t quite up to the task. You can see him acting. They remind you of similar scenes in parent show Inspector Morse and remind you, once more, how brilliant John Thaw was. The episode is largely well written until the end when the murderer suddenly gives up. Intellectually, it’s quite interesting but dramatically unsatisfying. Perhaps appropriate for a show centred on a hallowed centre of learning.

This Lewis episode contains mild swear words and unpleasant scenes.

Links

Lewis 3.01 Allegory of Love (2009, TV) – 6/10 review

Kevin Whately: DI Robert Lewis
Laurence Fox: DS James Hathaway
Clare Holman: Dr. Laura Hobson
Rebecca Front: Ch. Supt. Innocent
Selina Cadell: Professor Rutherford
Anastasia Hille: Ginny Harris
Cara Horgan: Alice Wishart
Adrian Lukis: Jem Wishart
Art Malik: Professor Hamid Jassim
Tom Mison: Dorian Crane
James Fox: Professor Norman Deering
Writer (inspired By The Original Novels By) Inspector Morse: Colin Dexter
Writer (Original Story): David Pirie
Writer (Screenplay): Stephen Churchett
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bill Anderson

Lewis 3.01 Allegory of Love (2009)

Lewis investigates the murder of a beautiful Czech immigrant who was killed using a sixteenth-century mirror. Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Innocent encourages Lewis is move on in his personal life by introducing him to a friend of hers.

6/10

One thing Kevin Whately really should steer clear of is emoting or trying to look attentive as he finds it very difficult to be convincing. Instead he looks like he’s forgotten his lines. He’s much better when smiling and I wish he’d do more of it in this show. This is a merely solid episode which is rescued by some gleefully barmy murders: one girl has her throat opened by a mirror that has been smashed over her head (in a nod to Alice Through The Looking Glass) while a man has a giant "sword of truth" run through his heart. The emotional delivery of the killer during the climax works much better than anticipated or, indeed, scripted and a slightly begrudging above-average rating is the reward.

This Lewis episode contains adult dialogue and brief violence, strong gory and unpleasant scenes.

Links

House M.D. 5.08 Emancipation (2008, TV) – 5/10 review

Hugh Laurie: Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Omar Epps: Dr. Eric Foreman
Robert Sean Leonard: Dr. James Wilson
Jennifer Morrison: Dr. Allison Cameron
Jesse Spencer: Dr. Robert Chase
Writer (Series’ Creator): David Shore
Peter Jacobson: Dr. Chris Taub
Kal Penn: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Olivia Wilde: Thirteen
Emily Rios: Sophia
Nathan Gamble: Evan
Alexandra Lydon: Melinda
Executive Producer: David Shore
Writer: Pamela Davis
Writer: Leonard Dick
Director: James Hayman

House M.D. 5.08 Emancipation (2008)

Patient-of-the-week is Sofia, an emancipated sixteen-year-old with fluid on her lungs. Foreman wants to be part of a medical trial but when House denies him on the grounds that he couldn’t execute two cases at the same time, Cuddy gives Foreman a diagnostics case involving a four-year-old.

5/10

The medical side of the show is, again, really badly handled. House is most like a maverick detective show, for example, Columbo or Inspector Morse but when was the last time you watched such a show and couldn’t follow the investigation at hand. Even though talking in medical terms is akin to speaking a different language, House has frequently demonstrated it can deliver a coherent picture of the case at hand. Part of the problem is simply making the cases way too complicated with one symptom jumping to another (always culminating in near-death) too quickly and without effect or understanding. As a contrast, Foreman’s case is much simpler and the audience grasps the essence of it without needing to understanding the medical nuts and bolts. Though there’s not much time for it this week, outside of the core medical experience, House and Wilson’s interaction is continuing to be engaging and fun and the ending pleasingly reveals extra depth to House’s genius.

Links

Inspector Morse 4.04 Masonic Mysteries (1990, TV) – 8/10

John Thaw: Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately: Detective Sergeant Lewis
Diane Fletcher: Marion Brookes
Richard Kane: Chief Insp. Bottomley
Ian McDiarmid: Hugo de Vries
Iain Cuthbertson: McNutt
James Grout: Chief Supt. Strange
Writer: Julian Mitchell
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Colin Dexter
Producer: David Lascelles
Director: Daniel Boyle

Inspector Morse 4.04 Masonic Mysteries (1990)

When Morse is framed for the murder of an attractive female chorister, he is sure that it is the work of a con-man he put away a dozen years ago. The problem is that the con man, Hugo de Vries, died while in prison in Sweden.

8/10

Great fun as Morse goes head-to-head with a master criminal played with glee by the Emperor himself, Ian McDiarmid. This contains one of Morse’s nicest moments when, after ranting delusionally thanks to smoke inhalation, he comes to his senses, apologizes to those around him and says: “Where’s Lewis? I want Lewis.” Aaah. Also, particularly entertaining is Morse trying to convince Lewis to go and see The Magic Flute with his wife. “It’s like a panto. … It’s got a dragon in it. … You can record Eastenders.” Classic stuff.

This Inspector Morse episode contains mild gore, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Continue reading “Inspector Morse 4.04 Masonic Mysteries (1990, TV) – 8/10”

Inspector Morse 4.03 Driven to Distraction (1990, TV) – 8/10

John Thaw: Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately: Detective Sgt. Lewis
Patrick Malahide: Jeremy Boynton
David Ryall: Derek Whittaker
Christopher Fulford: Tim Ablett
Mary Jo Randle: Detective Sergeant Maitland
James Grout: Chief Superintendent Strange
Writer: Anthony Minghella
Writer (Characters’ Creator): Colin Dexter
Producer: David Lascelles
Director: Sandy Johnson

Inspector Morse 4.03 Driven to Distraction (1990)

Morse comes up against the work of a serial killer whose victims appear to have nothing in common except the manner of their death.

8/10

Top Morse action with spectacular obsession and grumpiness against worthy adversary Patrick Malahide. It’s a bit silly at times with ominous killer’s footsteps and a daft climax but they’re instantly forgotten thanks to a great scene afterward with a shaken Morse being unable to take his hands off a steering wheel. There’s also a great “body of pathologists” gag and every scene with James Grout is a delight. Remarkably, when the titles were redone to give all the series a consistent appearance on DVD the copywriter mistakenly put the characters’ creator as Alan, not Colin, Dexter!

This Inspector Morse episode contains mild adult dialogue and references to illegal production of marijuana and gory and unpleasant scenes, extreme peril involving petrol, knife violence.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Inspector Morse 3.04 Secret of Bay 5B (1989, TV) – 7/10

John Thaw: Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately: Detective Sergeant Lewis
Amanda Hillwood: Doctor Grayling Russell
Mel Martin: Rosemary Henderson
Marion Bailey: Fran Pierce
Andrew Wilde: Edward Manley
Philip McGough: Brian Pierce
Writer (Screenplay): Alma Cullen
Writer (Original Idea): Colin Dexter
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Jim Goddard

Inspector Morse 3.04 Secret of Bay 5B (1989)

Sergeant Lewis with a murdered body in a car in a parking bay (5B) in a car park interrupts Morse’s pleasant evening of the quick step with Dr. Russell.

7/10

Thoroughly solid episode with a nice development of the unlikely romance between Morse and Dr. Russell and also boasting a delightfully smug conclusion with the car keys.

This Inspector Morse episode contains adult dialogue and subject matter of prostitution and unpleasant and gory scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Inspector Morse 3.02 The Last Enemy (1988, TV) – 7/10

John Thaw: Chief Inspector Morse
Kevin Whately: Detective Sgt. Lewis
Amanda Hillwood: Dr. Grayling Russell
Barry Foster: Sir Alexander Reece
Michael Aldridge: Arthur Drysdale
Tenniel Evans: Dr. David Kerridge
Writer (Screenplay): Peter Buckman
Writer (Original Story): Colin Dexter
Producer: Chris Burt
Director: James Scott

Inspector Morse 3.02 Last Enemy, The (1988)

Morse finds his job rather harder than usual thanks to the discovery of a body with no arms, legs or head… and his own toothache.

7/10

Though rather flatly directed, a superior script and sparkling work from a grumpier than usual John Thaw (Morse is suffering from toothache) and a cheerier than normal Kevin Whately (as Lewis) make this an solid addition to the series.

This Inspector Morse episode contains gruesome and unpleasant scenes, violence and sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Inspector Morse 6.05 Cherubim & Seraphim (1992, TV) – 7/10

Inspector Morse 6.05 Cherubim & Seraphim (1992)

A family tragedy forces Morse to confront the generation gap. His investigation into his niece’s death leads him into an alien world of house parties, raves and designer drugs.

7/10

This is a bit of a mis-step for Morse (the insta-exploding car is genuinely groan-worthy) but there is still much to enjoy including a terrific scene which writer Julian Mitchell gives John Thaw to provide some backstory on Morse as a 15-year-old. It includes one of the very, very few times Morse calls Sergeant Lewis Robbie.

This Inspector Morse episode contains substance abuse and nudity, mild sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Lewis 2.04 The Great and the Good (2008, TV) – 5/10

Lewis 2.04 Great and the Good, The (2008)

Lewis gets in some gurning practice when he does his back in. Case of the week involves the murder of a rapist who gave the impression that he knew something about the death of Lewis’ wife.

5/10

ITV appears to have been deliberately killing its successful drama series’ with dismal second seasons (Doc Martin, Kingdom) and Lewis has, sadly, turned out to be another one. However, this final episode does feature an interesting story and this makes up for the fact that it doesn’t feature an interesting character, specifically the title character. Barrington Pheloung’s continually classy underscore highlights the ordinariness of the enterprise which has now completely lost the atmosphere that Lewis had partly inherited from Inspector Morse.

This Lewis episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and extreme violence.

Lewis 2.03 Life Born of Fire (2008, TV) – 5/10

Lewis 2.03 Life Born of Fire (2008)

A homosexual Oxford student shoots himself in the head in front of a priest. The priest is later found dead by a hot poker through the eye with the message “life born of fire” painted on a door. The deaths must be related but then it transpires that Hathaway knew the student.

5/10

Rather too difficult to take seriously, this episode is the second weak Lewis in a row. Lewis’s total lack of character means that there is little entertainment value when the central mystery doesn’t grip or even make much sense. (Why leave messages with “life born of fire”?) It all builds to an impressively stupid climax where bashing your head negates the effects of sedatives, Oxford houses explode repeatedly and people can walk casually into a raging inferno.

This Lewis episode contains mild swear word and inferred very unpleasant scene, strong violence and sensuality.

Lewis 2.02 Music To Die For (2008, TV) – 5/10

Lewis 2.02 Music To Die For (2008)

Lewis and Hathaway investigate the death of a German professor but Lewis finds himself getting too close to the case when a beautiful woman on the periphery invites him to dinner.

5/10

There are good moments in this episode (Lewis picking up Hathaway’s discarded cigarette) but not many. While it was nice to see Morse brought into the plot in a small manner, the director (Bill Anderson, also responsible for the Lewis pilot) handled it unsubtly, and while you won’t have lost interest, by the time the weak silly climax arrives with all the principles arriving in a single location at the critical time, you’re in no mood to overlook such insulting contrivances.

This Lewis episode contains mild adult dialogue and boxing violence, other violence.

Lewis 2.01 And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea (2008, ITV) – 7/10

Lewis 2.01 And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea (2008)

A library worker at the Bodlington and a much-liked student are murdered and, as Lewis and Hathaway quickly realise, the probability of two such deaths being unrelated are slim.

7/10

Kevin Whately’s Lewis is notably less sour in this first episode of the second series and this helps make this an entirely agreeable stroll through telly murder mystery land. Alan Plater supplies interesting characters and plenty of plot to add to the good acting and enchantingly rarefied atmosphere which has been largely retained from wonderful parent series Inspector Morse.

This Lewis episode contains mild adult dialogue, mild swear words and substance abuse and mild unpleasant crime scenes.

Inspector Morse special 04: The Wench is Dead (1998)

Inspector Morse special 04: The Wench is Dead (1998)

Morse has a serious health scare but his time in hospital gives only his body rest as he applies his mind to a 140-year-old case where he believes that two innocent men were hanged for the murder of one Joanna Franks.

5/10

This is the worst episode of the best television series ever made but it’s not the fault of John Thaw who remains superb in his iconic role. The support cast (James Grout aside) is awful, the adaptation messy and the direction is simply dreadful in every way. This was nearly the last episode ever but, fortunately, Colin Dexter had one more Morse up his sleeve and that final adaptation of “The Remorseful Day” was much, much better and contained the television moment of 2000 when Lewis said “Goodbye, sir” for all of us.

This episode contains mild adult dialogue and a gory and unpleasant scene.
Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Available on DVD and paperback.