This coming Sunday, on most PBS stations, the venerable Masterpiece Theater series Mystery! brings us a new mystery featuring Inspector Robbie Lewis.
Played by Kevin Whatley, Lewis is the former sergeant of the late Inspector Morse, whose own series of mysteries was among the most popular filmed crime stories in the world.
The character of Endeavor Morse--opinionated, passionate, easily irritated and relentless in the pursuit of the truth--is one of the greatest fictional detectives ever created. As originally conceived by novelist Colin Dexter in a series of books, and then brought to vivid, unforgettable life by the late great actor John Thaw, Inspector Morse was our skeptical and inquisitive guide to the world of a modernized, rapidly-changing Oxford. A place where venerable college dons and rare-books collectors coexisted with phony religious gurus and Internet porn. And the crimes themselves were almost always intriguing and surprising.
Without a doubt, it was my favorite filmed TV crime series. So much so that the on-screen death of Inspector Morse, followed regrettably by the real-life passing of John Thaw a short time after filming ended, brought a real melancholy and sense of loss.
John Thaw and Endeavor Morse were the perfect blend of actor and character; I doubt whether any viewer could imagine anyone else playing the cranky Chief Inspector. Nor would they want one to.
Then, last year, PBS ran the pilot episode of a new series of mysteries, in which a widowed Robbie Lewis, now promoted to Inspector himself, returns from abroad to Oxford to find his own young sergeant, a baffling case to solve, and echoes of his old mentor everywhere. I thought it was an excellent episode, and a much-needed return to those old Oxford haunts.
I hoped then, as I'm sure a lot of other viewers did, that more Lewis adventures would follow. Happily, that's now the case.
So, if you're a fan of modern-day British crime dramas, and haven't yet investigated a newly-minted Detective Inspector named Robbie Lewis, I recommend you do so this coming Sunday evening.
I know I'll be watching.