One of My Favorite Television Shows: “Inspector Lewis”

September 4, 2012

120731InspectorLewisLeft: 9 x 12 inch page in a Fabriano Venezia in-studio journal. Sketch of actor Kevin Whately as "Inspector Lewis." Pentel Aquash Brush Pen with light black ink.

Other folks may rave about "Downton Abbey" (I love it too I'm not going to complain) but my favorite British show on TV has for a long time been "Inspector Lewis."

It's an outgrowth of the "Inspector Morse," series which ran for 33 episodes between 1987 and 2000, with actor John Thaw playing the senior cop, the boss of Lewis.

Well Thaw is sadly gone now. His character, Inspector Morse, was highly educated, loved opera, well, you get the idea. As a Sergeant Robbie Lewis was always more on the outside of the "university" culture in Oxford. There was a nice balance between the two characters.

The balance in the new series comes from Inspector Lewis' own age (and increased understanding of the people with whom he's dealing) and the erudite leanings of the rather "dishy Detective Sergeant James Hathaway" (he is referenced that way in the series a couple times—and he is rather dishy) who studied for the priesthood and became a cop.

In each episode characters are met, characters die, sleuthing ensues, justice comes (often too late to save some). The two main actors have developed a convincing rapport for their characters. The plots may be transparent at times, or overly complex at others, but I watch the show because I like these characters and want to see what they are up to. (Of course I want Robbie to get over grieving for his wife and give the lovely medical examiner a chance.)

And yes, there are ample sketching opportunities. If it isn't the wonderful wrinkles in Whately's face it's those interesting ears on Laurence Fox. Fox is simply a joy to watch. He has the best walk of any male actor on TV. Watch his feet. The walk is always measured, deliberate, and balanced—with a slight swagger and often a little bit of puppy. He's always dressed in the most amazingly slim cut suits. In profile, walking through the crime scene, he looks every bit a transfer from the 18th century.

I could watch these over and over again. And I will have to continue to do so, because I understand the series is coming to an end. Watch (and sketch) now while you can.

  1. Reply

    I too love the inspector Lewis series! so sketching from television is something I need to try too… followed your advice and did some sketching at one of the county fairs in Ohio. just can’t make it to Minnesota, but had fun at a smaller version. I posted sketches on my blog if you’re interested. Thanks for your fun blog…I found your write-up on ‘fair food,’ and it made me giggle!

  2. Reply

    Diane I loved your fair sketches! I’m so glad that you got out. Thanks for telling me. I hope your allergies were under control when you left.

    And I’m glad you enjoy “Inspector Lewis”.

    • Mo
    • September 4, 2012

    i LOVED Inspector Morse and his sidekick Lewis, and now i LOVE Inspector Lewis and his sidekick Hathaway. Laurence Fox does his father and uncle proud!! love his demeanor, and it’s the perfect offset for Lewis’ working man persona. love the series. thanks so much for writing about it!!

  3. Reply

    A Morse fan too. He gave the impression that there was a lot more to him than he revealed. The writers have done the same thing with Hathaway. Kind of like two bookends with the “what you see is what you get” Lewis in the middle:)) I don’t know why Lewis doesn’t move on – his family never played a big part in the Morse series and new viewers must be confused. I didn’t know the series was coming to an end. 🙁

  4. Reply

    yes, I survived the allergies just fine. No asthma and ankles just red, no itching! I loved the paper in the little journal you sent. It’s a dream to work on.

    • Catherine Hubbard
    • September 4, 2012

    I’m very sorry to hear that the Inspector Lewis series is coming to an end. It’s been a favorite in my house too. I agree, the actor who plays Hathaway is extraordinarily graceful, and I too love to watch him walk. I think he must have extensive experience in some discipline like martial arts, ballet, or fencing to have such remarkable control and poise.

    Like you, I also love Kevin Whately’s face. It seems full of the wisdom, compassion, and weariness that come from old pain. As a species, we are hardwired to admire smooth, even, unlined features, which all too many TV and movie casting choices cash in on, but to me such faces are boring and unconvincing in any plot which presumes experience or discipline. Whately’s and Fox’s faces are far more riveting to watch, and this plus their skill draws me into plots even when the writing is weak or predictable.

    By the way, in case Wet Paint still doesn’t have the refills for the light black ink you are using, you can get them at JetPens here:

  5. Reply

    Catherine, yes, I was disappointed to read it when I was looking something up about the show and there was a link to some interview with Fox in which he mentioned the final season of the show. I think it might be the few new episodes that were just on a couple weeks ago, but I am hoping against hope that there are actually a couple more coming up. I think if they know it’s final they would do a little something special in the final episode. And then of course maybe 20 years from now there can be a reunion show?

    Whately’s face is interesting since he had a bit of this look when he was younger. And Thaw certainly had a craggy face. Actors with such faces are, I agree, always more interesting.

    Thanks for the tip about the refills. I haven’t checked for those recently. Roz

  6. Reply

    Molly, yep I think the flip with Lewis in charge and his boss’ “mirror” as his sergeant was a nice approach. There’s a neat bit of symmetry to it.

    Did you see the “Endeavor” episode? It is a prequel to Inspector Morse. It was interesting. Perhaps they’ll do something more with that as well.

    It will be fun to see what the actors do after this.

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