Inspector Lynley Mysteries – Set 5 (WGBH DVD)
C+ Sound: B- Extras: D Telefilms: B-
Parker, who plays Detective Inspector Lynley, has one of the most interesting
faces in television. It is at once handsome, sardonic, inquisitive,
decisive and, at times, even feral.
And did I
Lynley Mysteries 5, based on characters created by Elizabeth George, opens with the intrepid
Inspector sitting out a suspension, anxiously waiting the results of his disciplinary
hearing for threatening to throw a suspect off a roof. His partner,
Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, is assigned a new boss, Detective Inspector
Fiona Knight, in "Natural Causes,"
the first of 4 episodes in this box set.
is a fairly straight forward one, complicated most by personal issues
of Lynley, Havers and the pregnant Fiona Knight. The plot here is in
thrall to the characters and that is not necessarily a bad
thing. Believability is stretched a tad with Lynley horning in on a
case that is not his concerning mob bosses and the mysterious drowning death of
a local woman, Edie Covington. Havers is put in the unenviable position
of answering to two bosses at once and, as she is often prone to do, comes
out the most sympathetic of all the protagonists, including Lynley
himself. The suspended Inspector tentatively patches things up with
his estranged wife, planting a seed for further development in
coming episodes. Lynley is reinstated in his job and reconciled with his
wife and all seems well. Could things be better?
"One Guilty Deed," the second
episode of the box set, finds everyone settled back to their traditional roles
as Lynley and Havers investigate a crime boss in the town where Havers went on
holiday during her childhood. Two
seemingly disparate crimes dovetail together in a once again less than credible
fashion and, yet again, character development trumps the plot to create an
interesting, intriguing episode. The skein comes undone in an almost Arthur
Conan Doyle fashion; it is as enjoyable as it is improbable, with the viewer
forgiving the misdirection in exact proportion to the amount of time not spent thinking about it afterward.
improbable is episode three, "Chinese
Walls." This case centers on a live internet porn site and
the murder of a barrister who is moonlighting for her sister's online
enterprise. There is an unnecessary CSI quality about some of the
goings on, with enough dead cert suspects to fill an episode of the old Ellery
Queen 70's television show and with a commensurate amount of
misdirection. Bait and switch doesn't even begin to describe
it. Still, the relationship of Lynley and his wife, Helen, keeps
the interest level high in an on again, off again manner. One of
the dead certs is the cert and,
after a trial separation, Lynley and Helen get back together. Again, could
things be better?
you smell rain in the air?
episode, "In the Blink of an Eye,"
far and away takes best of set, with the plot finally giving character
development a run for its money. The story concerns the death of a
photographer whose career has slipped to celebrity sleaze journalism;
though not without it's share of improbability, the story has its origins
in the Bosnian war of the 1990's and is a tale ultimately of
vengeance, with a "shocker" ending that is no less powerful for
having been emotionally telegraphed from the season's first episode.
bottom line here is that the series is always at least mildly
interesting, blending suspense with soap opera (see above), albeit of a
slightly more upscale kind than on afternoon network TV. The final, fatal
shot in the fourth episode links these elements inextricably together and the
cogent viewer realizes s/he is being played like the contrapuntal duet
of a minor, if passingly engaging composer.
2007, the BBC made the surprising decision to cancel the Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
Evidently, two additional episodes have been an aired in Australia but
have not aired in Britain or the US. The
cancellation is particularly surprising since this is a well acted suspense
series with character taking precedence and an inspired pairing of Nathaniel
Parker and Sharon Small in the lead roles.
Those who value Holmes and Watson and Nero and Archie and will find
themselves caught up in relationships as much as plot twists.
ultimately that isn't a bad, if occasionally improbable, thing, is it?
- Don Wentworth