Never say never. Famous words. Everybody has said or heard these words at one time or another. That includes the world of popular entertainment. So it goes without saying that when itv wrapped Inspector Lewis in its sixth series in 2013 the instant reaction was for audiences to say never say never. Low and behold Inspector Lewis returned earlier this year overseas for its seventh series. And PBS brought in Series Seven this fall. Now, for those that weren’t lucky enough to see Series Seven, PBS and ITV have made it available both on DVD and Blu-ray. Inspector Lewis Series Seven is a welcome return for what has become over the years one of the greatest crime dramas on television. The proof lies first and foremost in the writing behind each of the series’ episodes. The writing even in these three episodes is just as strong as in earlier episodes. The acting on the part of lead stars Kevin Whaley and Laurence Fox. The same can be said of new addition Angela Griffin as DS Lizzie Maddox. Whately and Fox haven’t lost a step. And Griffin brings in a whole new dynamic to the program that makes it even more enjoyable. The writing and acting are of equal importance to the overall presentation of Inspector Lewis Series Seven. Also to be considered to the success and enjoyment of this installment of Inspector Lewis is the fact that it maintains the standard set by the show years ago when Inspector Lewis in terms of not using overt sex, blood, and violence unlike the crime dramas that dominate American television. That the show’s heads would maintain that standard all these years later is a testament to their dedication to the show’s fan base. It rounds out the whole thing, making it again well deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets.
When itv wrapped Series Six of Inspector Lewis, it wasn’t too much of a forgone conclusion that somewhere along the line, Inspector Lewis would be back in some form or fashion regardless of whether or not it would be part of the series that made him such a beloved figure. That’s especially the case considering the success of the series’ prequel series Endeavour. So seeing Inspector Lewis’ return for a seventh series was quite the welcome return albeit not too surprising. It goes without saying that expectations were high when it was even announced that Inspector Lewis would in fact return for a seventh season. And thankfully this series has lived up to the hype. It has lived up to the hype primarily through the writing behind each of the series’ three episodes. One of the key examples of how the writing this time out keeps Inspector Lewis such a fan favorite comes in the episode “The Lions of Nemea.” There are more than enough twists and turns in this episode to keep audiences guessing right up to the end. The mystery starts right off the top when a well-respected professor is intentionally hit by a mystery driver while on his bike. From there, the murder of a student at the same university where that professor works deepens the mystery even more. The revelations of illicit affairs, literary fraud, and murder will keep audiences on the edge of their seats trying to solve the mystery themselves. In the series’ closer, audiences’ minds are left twisted when one of Lewis’ most notorious cases comes back to haunt him and even threaten his career. Surprisingly enough, the story’s closing moments leave the door wide open for another collection of episodes should the show’s heads opt for it to happen. Even in the series’ opening episode “Entry Wounds” audiences will agree to the strength of the show’s writing. Lewis’ desire to return to the force is made entirely believable thanks to the show’s writers. What’s more, the growing relationship between Lewis and Hathaway and their new partner make this series all the more enjoyable. Audiences will laugh at little jokes tossed in here and there in regards to Maddox’s having to answer to both detectives. At one point, Maddox is asked by another officer how things are going with her boss. Her response is a flat “which one?” One can’t help but laugh at her deadpan delivery of that simple line. Again, the writers put the line at just the right moment to make it a good lighthearted break from the seriousness of investigating the crime at hand. It’s just one of a number of moments that along with the stories themselves, exemplifies the strength of this series’ episodes.
Lewis and Hathaway built a strong working relationship and an equally solid friendship throughout the course of Inspector Lewis’ first six series. The addition of Lizzie Maddox adds a whole new dynamic to the pair’s relationship. It is highlighted expertly throughout the course of all three episodes in this series. In terms of the show’s writing, the trio’s partnership and their friendship play a big role in the success of the episodes’ writing. If not for the acting on the part of the trio though, the writing in regards to the trio’s personal and professional relationship would be moot. Luckily, the chemistry developed by Laurence Fox and Kevin Whaley during the duo’s original run together had not lost anything in these episodes. Whether sharing a joke in one of their more lighthearted moments or handling a tougher topic in one of their more serious moments, both men are fully believable. Fox and Laurence even make believable even the slight tension in Lewis’ return before their characters reconnect as if not a day had been missed. Angela Griffin is just as believable even in what very quickly becomes more of a supporting role. Should Inspector Lewis pull off a miracle and see an eighth series, it would be interesting to see Maddox develop even more into her own character. If an eighth series is not in the books, then it can at least be said of Griffin that she adds her own enjoyment to the overall product thanks to her own acting. All three together pull viewers into their world, making suspension of disbelief so simple along the way. The end result of the trio’s acting, and its interpretation of the scripts, is total immersion in and enjoyment of all three ninety-minute episodes. It serves to show yet again why Inspector Lewis is just as enjoyable in its seventh series as in its first.
The scripts behind Inspector Lewis’ seventh series and the acting on the part of its veteran cast both play pivotal roles in the success of this series’ episodes. Fox, Whately, and newcomer Griffin expertly interpret each episode’s script and in turn fully immerses viewers in each story. The scripts themselves will keep audiences fully engaged and guessing right up to their final moments. As if that isn’t enough, the episodes that make up Series Seven maintain the high standard set by the show’s previous series. Simply put, Inspector Lewis remained in its seventh series the polar opposite of the crime dramas that populate American commercial networks. There is no overt sexuality. There is no unnecessary violence, gunplay, etc. And the amount of blood and gore is kept to the same minimum as in the show’s previous series. Again, this is the total opposite of all of the crime dramas that are so popular on American television. Rather, the show continued here to focus on story and character development as is evident in the episodes’ scripts and the acting on the part of the cast. Those factors, together with the continued high standard of content overall, round out the reasons that Inspector Lewis remains such a hit in its seventh series. They collectively show once more why this series is quite well-deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets.
Inspector Lewis: Series Seven is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46782166&cp=&sr=1&kw=inspector+lewis&origkw=Inspector+Lewis&parentPage=search. More information on Inspector Lewis is available online now at:
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