Here’s a fictional detective I didn’t find in a book, but on public television. Inspector Lewis used to be the sidekick sergeant to Inspector Morse. Morse retired, and a new show was born: Inspector Lewis. His sidekick sergeant is James Hathaway, and complex and complicated character if ever there was one. Now Inspector Lewis is in its final season, dare I hope for Inspector Hathaway?
James Hathaway (played so beautifully by Laurence Fox) went to Oxford, studied theology, abandoned the seminary and joined the police. He is erudite, a little bit sarcastic, loves music, and is athletic — although he smokes. In this final season, we see Hathaway dealing with family issues. His father has dementia or Alzheimer’s, his sister Nell wants him to help more with the care-taking of their dad, and we learn that his father cares more for him than Hathaway ever knew. Laurence Fox portrays a range of emotions with slight body language or facial expressions.
I find the writing of Inspector Lewis exceptional, and the acting is quite good from all concerned. Clare Holman has portrayed the forensic pathologist for twenty years, from late in the series Inspector Morse right through the final season of Inspector Lewis. Her character has undergone changes over the years. At one time her character was prone to making puns. At the end, she is married to Inspector Lewis, and they both continue their careers (Lewis retired and came back).
I often prefer British acting to US acting. Their style is more subtle, more subdued. It seems more realistic to me. When I watch US television shows, I often wish the director would ask the actors to “dial it back.” Movies and television are visual media, with close-ups always available to the director. Let us see emotions in the faces or in change of body language. This is my plea. Life is not all about shouting, screaming, or throwing things about.
You know I love Sherlock Holmes. James Hathaway is almost equally compelling in my opinion. I strive to make my Shirley Combs as complex and interesting. And good examples like Holmes and Hathaway provide role models.
Who are your favorite detectives on television?