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Ghost Canyon

'Masterpiece Mystery! Inspector Lewis Series 8'
(Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2016 / PBS)

Overview: Oxford's favorite detectives Lewis and Hathaway return for the eighth and final series of the hit Masterpiece mystery, investigating the city's most complex and intriguing crimes.

Blu ray Verdict: Well, as it once seemed back in the UK in 2014 that they had all agreed that we had now most likely seen the last ever episode of 'Inspector Lewis,' they brought out the definitive 10-disc box-set. Welcomed by us fans of the British detective series with open arms, two years later and out pops another series! The eighth, and now, most likely final season of the long-running series, it features three brand new full UK feature-length episodes.

The arrival of new Chief Superintendent heralds a new era for Oxfordshire Police and so, feeling the pressure, will Lewis finally decide to end on his policing career? Meanwhile, after years of avoiding the thorny issue of family ties, Hathaway is forced to confront his past.

For the record, I loved, absolutely loved all the 'Inspector Morse' episodes and was soooooo happy to see that 'Inspector Lewis' was created to further extended our TV viewing pleasures.

And, straight from the off, it wasn't as if Lewis (Kevin Whatley) was overly striving to live up to the legacy of his late long-time partner, the legendary Inspector Morse (John Thaw). No, moreover, he couldn't seem to escape him there in Oxford, England. And, for the record, and much like 'Midsomer Murders', just how such complicated murders keep happening in such a small college town, and how anybody still lives in these two areas without constant fear, is beyond me!

Anyway, that all aside, much of the character development in this 3-part series revolves around Robbie Lewis's reluctance to retire (he is a consultant now) and DI James Hathaway's awkward relationship with his ailing father and his saintly sister. As with previous plots involving Hathaway's private life, we never get clear answers to the cause of his existential crises.

Personally, I found his spiritual struggles depicted in earlier series to be more compelling than his family troubles in this one. Likewise, Lewis's angst about committing to pathologist Dr. Laura Hobson, retiring and possibly being forgotten seem way overplayed in this series. I much preferred the episodes when he and pathologist Laura were developing feelings for each other, but still were entrenched in their jobs.

Anyhoo, back on track and with 33 episodes broadcast on British television between 2006 and 2015 and lead actor Kevin Whately actually having played "Robbie Lewis" for 28 years (1987-2015), Whatley knows his character inside out and showcases his finer points perfectly here in the final three chapters of the show's run.

“One for Sorrow” - Identifying the remains of a body discovered in a well appears to be an insurmountable task for Inspector Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and CS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox). Lewis, recently out of retirement, has to prove himself to a new boss and Hathaway finally gets to know his estranged father. Meanwhile, the death of a young artist begins to look like murder. Is there a connection between the dead body in the well and the murdered artist?

“Magnum Opus” - An Oxford college dean is found bludgeoned to death in the woods following a heated debate in a pub. An alchemic image purposefully left at the crime scene leads Lewis and Hathaway to anticipate that three more murders will follow. An unusual tattoo on the dean’s body and the bodies of two more victims leads to the discovery of a secret esoteric society and a frantic effort to prevent a fourth murder. Meanwhile, Hathaway is struggling to accept his father’s illness. “What Lies Tangled” - When an eminent mathematician is killed in a gruesome bomb attack, Lewis and Hathaway quickly discover the victim was a notorious philanderer with many enemies — several of whom could have killed him. When a bomb is discovered at the home of the victim's brother, also a mathematician, the case moves in another direction. Then a chemistry professor is murdered, and a clue is uncovered that helps solve the case. Meanwhile, Lewis’ long-planned trip with his girlfriend (Clare Holman) is put in jeopardy as Lewis worries about whether his job will be waiting for him when he returns.

New characters in this series are Chief Superintendent Joe Moody, who may or may not want to give Lewis the axe, and DS Lizzie Maddox, who works for Hathaway. I enjoyed Maddox's screen time -- she's smart and intense, yet also given to girls nights out -- but Moody isn't given much to do except pop onto the scene and give orders. They're all rolling their eyes behind his back, something about his background not meeting with their approval.

Still, just about any show on British television, especially a Masterpiece production, is well worth watching. The very last shot of the show -- and I won't print any spoilers here -- has me hoping that DI Hathaway will get his own series next. Man, that would be Absolutely bloody fabulous. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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