'Masterpiece Mystery: Inspector Lewis 4 - UK'
(Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2011 / 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 four new thrillers: Old Unhappy Far Off Things, Wild Justice, The Mind Has Mountains, and The Gift of Promise.
DVD Verdict: As I have already mentioned ahead of the Series 1+2 and 3 DVD set reviews, 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, second and third series episodes, we now have 4 more to enjoy!
In the first episode of Series 4, which is actually Series 5 in the UK (!), 'Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things' (a quote from Wordsworth), a reunion at an all-female college ends in a murder. Professor Diana Ellerby is leaving Oxford's last surviving all-women's college and during a reunion with old students, 32 year-old Poppy Toynton is murdered. Lewis and Hathaway's (who is trying to quit smoking, unsuccessfully) investigation seems to then be connected to that of a 10 year-old girl. Currently in a coma, she was attacked during a party at the same college and is the sister of one of the other old students currently being investigated.
That case has haunted Lewis for years and, during the investigation, he reaches out to his former DS, Ali McLennan for assistance. But, as the current murder investigation continues secrets, blackmail and more bodies are uncovered - including, sadly, hers! With another possible romantic interlude gone in the wind, Lewis and Hathaway strive to put the jigsaw pieces together.
In 'Wild justice,' a black, female bishop visiting St Gerard's College is found dead after drinking poisoned wine. In what turns out to be a nicely weaved Jacobean revenge tragedy of a tale, Lewis and Hathaway suspect that she has been killed because of her progressive views. But when another two killings occur, both mirroring macabre murders from those Jacobean books, it appears the murderer is targeting candidates for the post of vice-regent of the college.
This episode of one of the best here in this set, and also includes the return to TV of Christopher Timothy ('All Creatures Great & Small') as a retired policeman with a secret. And so after learning that one of the suspects harbors a dark secret, Lewis and Hathaway realise their first-determined motive is wrong and that the murderer is avenging perceived slights from over twenty years before. A great twist ending comes out of nowhere here!
In 'The Mind Has Mountains,' a beautiful young girl/student dies during a residential clinical trial for a new anti-depressant. Lewis and Hathaway launch an investigation into the college's professor of psychiatry, who was leading the trial along with his young wife, but the pair eventually seem to be clean of all misdoings. That said, they do seem to be hiding something. As suspects are brought in, and more die along the way, one of those being held at the police station goads Lewis; to which he retorts to his Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent (Rebecca Front), "He deserves a night in the cells after what he said about your nice station, M'am"! This episode also comes with a nice twist ending of a whodunnit.
In the final episode, 'The Gift of Promise,' Lewis and Hathaway investigate the beating to death of a businesswoman who had apparently been blackmailing the father of her protégé. But it all seems to have more to do with the memoirs of a former head of MI5 that have just been released. With the always-beautiful, sexy Cherie Lunghi as Grace Orde, the former MI5 agent in the center of everything, bodies fall all around her due to something she printed in her book. In truth, it should have been called 'A Case of Who Killed Mary Keane' this quite easily, for my money, the BEST episode in the new set.
With the music for the series composed by Barrington Pheloung, who created the music for the original Morse series, 'Masterpiece Mystery: Inspector Lewis 4' is yet another 6 hours of your life (if watched back-to-back, like me) that you will never think wasted, trust me! These are all Full-Screen Presentations (1.66:1), but, and again sadly, come with no Special Features.