Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mystery Without the Pomp

We have taken to watching Inspector Lewis on the PBS. While I can dig the penguin-like Hercule Poirot and his fastidious eccentricities played perfectly by David Suchet, and of course, the master of all mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Lewis is an altogether a different cup of tea.

Typically, you get a lot of tea and oh-so-British pomp with PBS mysteries or even mini-series. As much as I love the UK, as I am a confirmed Anglophile, even I get a little annoyed at the Miss Marple-ish British pomposity of "Oh, Reginald! Be a darling and see if you can find my crochet mallet. Would you, dear? Thank you." Americans are portrayed as bold and boorish "sods" with loud voices whose love of money precludes them ever possibly understanding the finer things in life, let alone any manner of civility.

Set in Oxford, Lewis hates all the academia; especially the prevailing smugness of professors. He's a working class bloke, you see. Nothing fancy about him. For years Lewis served as Inspector Morse's foil; played brilliantly by John Thaw. Morse, a very erudite and cultured man, constantly brushed shoulders with people who thought him a common beat cop.

Lewis is older now; the senior officer now perfectly paired with DS James Hathaway. Once again, Lewis is a bit puzzled by all manner of literary allusions, but Hathaway is both cerebral and street smart.

So, skip the pomp of tea-and-biscuit Brit mystery. Lewis is great series.

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