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MYSTERY!: INSPECTOR LEWIS (2006)

Producer: Chris Burt
Director: Bill Anderson

Story by: Russell Lewis
Screenplay: Stephen Churchett
(Inspired by the Inspector Morse novels of Colin Dexter)

Starring: Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman, Rebecca Front, Charlie Cox, Jack Ellis...

Music: Barrington Pheloung

Studio: WGBH Boston (PBS)
Rating: NOT RATED
Run time: 112 minutes

Genre: Mystery/crime

Pilot episode for a new series, co-produced by Granada and WGBH Boston..
Broadcast on PBS channels. 90+ minutes.
Available on DVD and VHS

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

I loved the Inspector Morse series, not so much for the mysteries but for the chance to spend time with Morse (John Thaw). It saddens me that both the character and the actor are now dead. I had never even dared to hope that someone would bring Sgt. Lewis back to the screen. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across the PBS showing of "Inspector Lewis" on Sunday evening, July 30, 2006. It is my understanding from the previews that more Inspector Lewis episodes will be available in the autumn or winter on PBS channels.

Kevin Whately reprises his role as Robbie Lewis. It's been five years since the unexpected death of his former partner, Morse. Lewis has passed his Inspector's exam and spent the past two years on special assigment in the British Virgin Islands. When he is called back to the Thames Valley Police it is clear that he has now become the dinosaur that Morse was once considered to be. Lewis is unfamiliar with the techie gadgets his "minder" DS Hathaway relies on such as email and a Blackberry. He is also at odds with his new boss, DCS Innocent. Though suffering from jet lag, and lack of sleep, he wants to be assigned to investigate the murder he's just seen when he and DS Hathaway visited the crime scene. DCS Innocent wants him elsewhere. Reluctantly she agrees to temporarily assign him as the investigator until her preferred investigator is available, in a day or two.

On the face of it, the case isn't that difficult. An American student was shot while participating in a sleep disorder study. The killer is viewed on a closed-circuit camera system punching in his secret access code to open the back door of the facility. It seems pretty cut and dried, as the saying goes, but of course, nothing is that easy when it comes to crime solving. The main suspect has an air-tight alibi. More dead bodies crop up. It seems that inspector Lewis might run out of live suspects before he solves the case.

It was refreshing to see Lewis back in the familiar territory of Oxford. Thank goodness the location of the series didn't move to the British Virgin Islands!

I particularly liked the way the investigation touched on memories and clues from Morse. I also welcomed the resolution of Lewis's family life which could have bogged down the story. Without giving too much away, I am glad he isn't saddled with the burden of his family. I do wish they had found another way to deal with the wife. The popular British series "New Tricks," not to mention the U. S. series "Monk," just to name two, have already used a similar gambit. I would have been quite satisfied with a simple (or messy) divorce or a more natural death.

Setting those quibbles aside, I look forward to more Inspector Lewis cases.

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