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Cherry Pop

'Inspector Lewis: Series 3'
(Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / PBS)

Overview: Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) and his partner, the enigmatic Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), return to the idyllic Oxford countryside and Colleges in five new thrillers, forcing the pair to revisit the past--and to reconsider the future.

DVD Verdict: As I mentioned ahead of the Series 1 and 2 DVD set review, I loved, loved all the Inspector Morse episodes and was soooooo happy to see that Inspector Lewis had been 'born' for our TV viewing pleasures. Hence, after all those wonderful first and second series episodes, we now have 5 more to enjoy!

In the first episode, 'Counter Culture Blues,' Lewis finds himself in the unfortunate position of policing the heroes of his youth when he's sent to censure a rock legend for firing off his hunting rifle during the local Sunday service. But then, as a fan, he runs into the supposedly-dead figure of the bands singer, Esme Ford (played in fine form as usual, by the lovely Joanna Lumley).

Of course, it's not long before people are dying left, right and center, and it's up to Lewis and Hathway to figure it all out. This episode also features the great Simon Callow in a role born for him to play! It also contains the great spoken comeback of, "Yes, that's her ... the ditz with the tits!" And, when his immediate superior (above Lewis) asks Hathaway how he stands Lewis, he replies in a flash, "Suffering and endurance are the bedrock of a happy marriage!"

In 'The Dead of Winter,' still reeling from a recent, grueling case-ending with the discovery of a murdered young girl, Hathaway finds himself investigating the murder of Dr. Stephen Black at Crevecoeur Hall; a sprawling Oxford estate on which Hathaway spent much of his childhood. Along the way, Lewis 'adopts' a stray cat, has a barney with Hathaway, and informs his boss re: Hathaway, that "He's an awkward sod at the best of times, but he's my awkward sod!"

In 'Dark Matter,' Andrew Crompton, Master of Gresham College and amateur astronomer, is found dead at the foot of the University Observatory stairs only days before he expected to experience "an excess of joy," leaving Lewis and Hathaway to unravel a puzzle fraught with campus intrigue spanning decades.

It takes a while to get to the next killing, but it's one to make ou think for sure! For, days later, Dr. Ella Ransome, Crompton's wife's best friend, is also murdered. Are the two crimes connected? Of course they are, don't be silly, but as much as the killer is evident from the near-off, the ending wraps up very neatly.

In 'Your Sudden Death Question,' Lewis and Hathaway find themselves cancelling their August Bank Holiday plans when a private trivia weekend at Chaucer College kicks off with the murder of its standout competitor, Ethan Croft. The duo quickly learns that Croft was a womanizer with a number of secrets, a brilliant Russian linguist turned primary school teacher whose professional career suffered some shadowy disgrace behind Oxford's closed doors years ago.

Featuring a great character central role from Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek), he runs this episode from start to finish; never straying too far from his other known character. Also, along for the episodic ride is the fact that Hathaway gets his prize guitar stolen - and so the chase is on to get that back too!

In the final episode, 'Falling Darkness,' on Halloween, called to a scene as she's leaving for the evening, Dr. Hobson finds the friend she was on her way to meet dead, with a stake through her heart and garlic in her throat! I knoooooow! Anyway, though the pathologist is officially removed from the case, Lewis and Hathaway are happy to have a trusted face in their investigation.

But when a student turns up murdered the next day-in the house Hobson shared with her university friends years ago-the two are put in the uncomfortable position of conducting a more intrusive investigation into her past to determine what, if any, role she plays in the current case.

Now, this tale, more about love's great losses, also features a great line, one that I myself must take heed to also! When asked if she would ever return to an 'old flame,' freshly on the scene after many, many years, Dr. Hobson replies, "No, don't you ever read the instructions. You never return to a lit firework!" [RT] These are all Full-Screen Presentations (1.66:1), but, and again sadly, come with no Special Features.