I do have a problem with some crime dramas that focus mostly on the murder mystery rather than spending time really following what the characters are doing when they’re not on the beat. Scott and Bailey, for example, is just as much about what the women do when they’re at home while even Vera allows us to see inside the solitary life of Brenda Blethyn’s character however I never got that impression while watching this week’s episode of Lewis. I presume that Lewis doesn’t have to try as hard with developing his character, as well as that of Lawrence Fox’s Hathaway, as we are in series six as well as of course the fact that Kevin Whately’s detective has been around since the late 1980s as a sidekick to Inspector Morse. While certainly Scott & Bailey has been one of the best dramas of the year so far I feel that Lewis appeals much more to the Midsomer Murders crowd who enjoy an old school crime programme and are most at home when watching ITV3.
This week’s Lewis started very elegantly as we saw a young girl on a bike cycling her way through Oxford University on the way to a job babysitting for a young couple. In turn we also saw the couple playing tennis with another pair in a game that looked incredibly sexualised while the final image in the pre-credit sequence was of a woman playing and winning multiple chess games at a time. This is all accompanied by Barrington Phelong’s majestic score but obviously it stops suddenly when the couple return home to find the babysitter is dead however this is an ITV crime drama rather than a hilarious comedy film from the early 1990s. The babysitting victim is none other than Jessica Lake who has lived an interesting life for one so young but I’m guessing that her varying life choices only exist here to give us a long list of suspects. After being killed Jessica is tied up on the bed an image that copies the one that she strikes when posing for photos with artist Marion Hammond. Jessica used to live at a commune where she seemed to have attracted the attention of the slightly weird Silas who for most of the episode hangs around looking suspicious. The couple themselves, Nick and Honey Adams, both seem to have something to hide after supposedly having the alibi of staying at his boss’ house Lewis discovers that both left during the night. Then there’s Jessica’s boyfriend Gideon, her friend Yasmin, Gideon’s mother who always hated Jessica and Doctor Joshua Ezrin who performs experiments on monkeys but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Though really not ever treated as a suspect it is Marion Hammond, commonly known as M among the arty types, who Lewis has the biggest problem with based around the fact she is very Oxford. Hathaway describes her as a professional iconoclast, social anthropologist and cultural commentator a job which seems pays handsomely when they discover just where she lives. As we know Lewis doesn’t do well with Oxford types at the best of times and he especially struggles with Marion, who was the woman playing chess in the opening scenes, due to her love of photographing girls in controversial poses. Through the episode though Lewis and Marion form sort of a begrudging respect for each other which I thought could’ve turned into something more but this never happened as the murder case took priority. The other subplot involving the Adams couple was more about the seedy underbelly of the suburban life as Nick’s boss and his wife invite them over for what is basically one of those car keys in the pot sort of situations. Finally there’s Dr Essen and Gideon’s father Dr Massey who perform experiments on monkeys to try to see if they understand basic speech though this doesn’t really fit with the rest of the episode it does in fact provide a vital clue in the case. I personally thought that the monkeys could’ve teamed up to take out various characters throughout the episode however my theory was far-fetched but you’ll have to watch the episode to see if it’s completely impossible.
Like with Midsomer Murders you have to dispend your disbelief a great deal when watching Lewis as I was constantly thinking that people don’t behave like that. In the case of this episode everybody was a bit weird from the kids in the commune to the doctors who work on the monkeys it seemed to be a parade of freaks any one of whom could’ve been the murderer but I did find the revelation to be slightly predictable. There are also some lines of dialogue that are completely unrealistic my favourite had to be when Gideon’s mother told his father that she’d filtered him out. On the positive side the cinematography is top-notch especially for a TV drama as we see sweeping views of the Oxford backdrop and I also felt that the set direction of Marion’s loft added a lot to her character. Kevin Whately is still great in the leading role as the working class copper finding the world of Oxford a little bit above him while guest stars Con O’Neil and Lucy Cohu were also fun to watch when they were on screen. I feel though that there should’ve been more of Rebecca Front as Lewis and Hathaway’s Chief Inspector as she only appeared in a handful of scenes I think that if you’ve got an actress of her talents you should use her on a more regular basis. Personally I found this episode of Lewis overlong and plodding with too many suspects which meant there was not enough time for our investigators to develop their characters enough which I think is vital in producing a well-rounded crime drama.
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