Monday, 14 September 2009

Lewis and Wallander


I don’t watch many television series these days, but I’ve seen quite a few episodes of both ‘Lewis’ and ‘Wallander’ (originally the Branagh series, now the rather different Swedish series) and this caused me to muse on the merits of both.

The episodes of ‘Lewis’ that I saw came from the last series. ‘The Allegory of Love’ was first rate, and up to the standard of all but the very best episodes of ‘Inspector Morse’. The story starts briefly with shots of a beautiful and mysterious young woman (Katia Winter) before moving to a book launch attended by Inspector Lewis. The book in question is a fantasy novel by handsome Dorian Crane (Tom Milsom) and it soon becomes apparent that his good looks, charm and all-round brilliance have attracted several admirers, and prompted much jealousy. At a regrettably early point, the beautiful young woman is murdered – but was she the killer’s intended victim?

As ever, the casting was excellent. The suspects included such fine actors as Art Malik and James Fox, and for a while I thought Lewis might find himself a new lady, but it was not to be. The plot was pleasingly convoluted, and though credibility was stretched, this was a price worth paying for a thoroughly entertaining story.

I’ve also just seen ‘The Great and the Good’ – this Lewis story benefited from a screenplay by Paul Rutman, who has written the script for the televised version of Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope novel Hidden Depths. Again, it was very enjoyable stuff, the excellence of the acting and the twists of the story-line compensating for the rather unlikely plot.

Across the North Sea, ‘The Tricksters’ also saw the hero-detective contemplating the possibility of an improvement to his love life, though Kurt Wallander enjoyed rather more amorous success than poor old Lewis after picking up a woman on a lonely forest road. For once, though, I thought that the story was not especially gripping. Two young girls discover the body of an apparently pleasant man with a love of horses. But he turns out not to have been pleasant after all. In theory, I prefer the length of the Wallander series (an hour and a half rather than the two hours allocated to Lewis’s investigations) but the simple truth is that the strength of each episode depends above all on the quality of the story.

10 comments:

seana said...

I just happened to be watching "Inspector Lewis" last night, though obviously not the same episode. It's the one that begins with a young guy killing himself in front of a priest, and his Lewis's young colleague, Hathaway, has a connection to the one who kills himself. In retrospect, there were a couple of aspects of the story that didn't make sense, but I liked it for the relation between Lewis and Hathaway, and it did seem to make Oxford particularly gorgeous this time. I think they've done a very nice job in the transition of making Lewis the lead, not trying to turn him into another Morse, and keeping the friction alive by the choice of his brainy young partner.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I agree with you. The hour and a half is about right for a crime drama, I think. Both series are very enjoyable, although I think I slightly prefer Wallander.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Seana. I haven't seen that one, but it sounds good. In fact, I haven't seen a poor Lewis yet.

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, your point is borne out by the episode of Marple I've just watched...more on this tomorrow.

Minnie said...

We have l'Inspecteur Laou-ice in France, you know! Agree with your take on the plotting - and the cast's always excellent. I even managed to suspend disbelief when Wor Lad spoke French (you get used to it surprisingly quickly).
Swedish TV's Wallander is wonderful (and just the right length: long enough to be luxuriant for writer and actors, not long enough to drag). Haven't seen the Branagh version; hope France Televisions picks it up.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Minnie. I can recommend the Branagh version!

Jennifer Jarratt said...

Just saw The Great and the Good last night but sadly, have no idea what really happened and who was guilty of what. The script and the diction were not so great in this episode. I usually enjoy Lewis immensely.
The Swedish Wallander series-I've caught one or two (satellite tv, yeah!)seem unrelievedly gloomy and dark. At least the sun shines in Oxford.

Martin Edwards said...

Greetings, Jennifer. Good to hear from you. The sun certainly does shine beautifully in Oxford - though when it rains, it can get very wet indeed. But I can't recall ever seeing much rain fall in Morse or Lewis!

Little Wonder said...

I cannot figure out "The Good and the Great" Lewis mystery either! I have no idea who was really guilty of what and put it down to the British accents. If anyone could possibly explain, I would appreciate it very much!

I love Branagh as Wallender. He is so different than I imagined Wallender, and I love the depth.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Little Wonder. I don't want to include spoilers, but if you'd like to discuss the episode, please email me.