Perhaps it’s just a sign of cuts at ITV, but Lewis Season 9’s opening story, ‘One For Sorrow’, has a lower than average body-count.
If you only caught the first quarter hour of Episode 1 last week, then you’ve seen all the corpses you’re going to see: the body in the well and the dead artist. Having neatly linked these two apparently separate cases at the end of last week, this week’s episode proceeds apace. And ironically, although the two cases are now definitely linked we discover there are two different killers.
That’s a slight twist on the norm and I can certainly believe that it’s becoming ever more difficult for writers and makers of detective dramas to keep one step ahead of the audience. We’re all versed in the language of TV drama, where a simple glance between two characters tips us off about an affair, or a female character feeling unwell means she’s about to discover she’s pregnant.
Last week Steve Pemberton’s “do-gooder” Ian Tedman was discovered paying the dead artist £500 per month and it was pretty clear as to the reason why, namely hush money for an affair he’d had with the young woman.
This week we discover that’s not true either, or rather it is hush money but not for an affair. It was a neat bit of misdirection, allowing us to discount Tedman as murderer because it would have been too obvious.
We’re misled again with Tedman’s rugby-playing son and his injuries (“I hurt myself playing rugby”) and what appears to be a well-adjusted young man living a healthy lifestyle and getting some exercise turns out to be something much darker.
“He’s getting out, getting healthy,” claims the father when the truth comes out, incredibly still trying to hold everything together; “He’s self-harming,” contradicts the psychologist mother. The son is struggling with the guilt he feels over the body in the well – and the parents are covering up his crime, ultimately turning to murder when money no longer works.
It’s clearly a show that comes from a team well-versed with the tropes and the tricks of the Whodunnit as well they should be after all these years. So the characters who last week looked the most obvious suspects (the old taxidermist, and his nephew) turn out to be only peripherally involved with the real story – the former simply being friendly to his young tenant, and the latter using the taxidermy as a front for drug-smuggling.
Conversely the characters that we’d discounted as red herrings (the errant husband, the sister’s boyfriend) turn out to be absolutely the key to the whole thing.
Even the number of corpses has decreased, there’s no questioning that we’ve now got more bobbies on the beat than ever before, on screen at least.
Not just Lewis and Hathaway, but also last year’s new recruit Maddox, and even the new hip DCI is out arresting people this week. Ultimately of course it’s Lewis’ show, but there’s something very touching about the unspoken fact that he defers to Hathaway as being, at least officially, the man in charge.
Perhaps showing the wisdom of casting good actors in what might otherwise be, dare I say, rather dull characters, there are also some nice touches of humour, sometimes just a smile or a twinkle between Lewis and Hathaway, which still makes this old show very watchable indeed.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 13 October 2015 on ITV.
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