by Larry Brody
My favorite police show returned for 2012 via Masterpiece Mystery! last week and gave me exactly what I wanted: A warm, comfortable, only somewhat surprising 90 minute excursion to Oxford, England, where Detective Inspector Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whatley) and Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Lawrence Fox) solve serial murder after serial murder (mostly on the sprawling and gorgeous Oxford University campus) by walking around, asking questions, and, most of the time, being grumpy.
The crime in the latest episode was no big deal. In fact, I already can’t remember the first victim. The second victim (who actually died earlier than the first but ya gotta go with the twists) was more memorable: A young genius working for an Oxford doctor. He stays in mind not because of anything about him, but because his bereft mother so brilliantly turned from an obnoxious Miss Marple wannabe/nuisance to the “sympathetic client” the best U.S. cop shows used so well in the ’70s. She was so sympathetic, in fact, that brusk, impatient Inspector Lewis was soon cuddling and reassuring her like a real dad.
Which brings us to what I really love about INSPECTOR LEWIS: The two leads and the way they interact with each other and the various intellectuals around them. Or don’t interact. Because beneath their surface differences (Lewis is practical and, for all practical purposes, anti-intellectual; Hathaway is a Cambridge-educated seminary drop-out), both men possess a stubborn reticence to share anything of themselves with anyone…and each worries about that trait in the other, well knowing the loneliness it causes.