Everything is fine. People can relax. All the stresses of life are cured. Because there’s a new DVD boxset of Lewis out. If you want to feel bruised and psychologically assaulted, as if you’ve just been dragged by the ankles around a museum of torture that uses sandpaper for carpet, then watch Waking the Dead (all nine brutal series of it are available on DVD). But if you want something calm, soothing, loving, nurturing and warming turn to Inspector Morse follow-up Lewis, which has just been commissioned for a seventh series. It is the television equivalent to Horlicks and a hot bath.
There is something really nice and welcoming about the way it meanders through a story, touching here and there on different topical issues in society (racism, drug trafficking, homophobia), but never gets caught up in its own hysteria. In fact, there is very little hysteria, and when there is it only occurs at the end to reward the viewer for being so patient. Although the word patient implies there is something boring about Lewis’s slow pace. True, it does stretch stories out into film-length episodes, but there is nothing wrong with that. It takes its time and doesn’t fail to offer up some wonderful observations on human nature.
Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox are the perfect double-act as Inspector Lewis and Detective Sergeant Hathaway, respectively, and it’s understandable why people are so willing to put themselves in their hands each week for a bit of cosy TV viewing.
It is also important crime dramas don’t feel they have to be high on Red Bull to get audience figures. It may be fashionable to be sneery about Lewis’ indulgent pace, but sometimes the episodes make a lot more sense than Silent Witness, CSI or, yes, Waking the Dead. There is room for edgy drama. There is a space for the crazy and the surreal. But it is important to remember there is always a need for calm, good, honest storytelling. And Lewis is exactly that. It is the Agatha Christie for our generation (and the aging Christie generation too). I hope it continues for years to come.
Lewis: Series Six is distributed on DVD by ITV Studios Home Entertainment. A Region A blu-ray collection is also available.