“God made the country, and man made the town.”
I worked out about halfway through this episode that, in fact, I’d already seen it at least once. But I couldn’t quite remember who the murderer was, so it was all right.
(Also Hathaway, who is clever and reminds me a bit of Captain Carrot from Discworld-land. But mostly Oxford.)
In this particular two-hour outing, Lewis and sidekick Hathaway investigate the death of a bishop attending an ecumenical conference at St Gerard’s, an extremely Catholic college. They discover that there’s a whole lot of tension going on there as annual elections for the college headship are coming up, with the progressive academics trying to oust the faintly misogynistic friars who have run the college for time out of mind. (I personally am on the side of the academics, if only because allowing a college full of undergraduates free access to alcohol on a trust payment system is sadly misguided and doomed to fail.)
So this was a good episode, as Lewis episodes go. The best ones have a gently intellectual undercurrent going on, a Grand Theme which links the murders; this time around, it was Revenge Tragedy, which was particularly interesting for me, firstly because literature, and secondly because this was around the time I was reading Titus Andronicus. So that was a nice little link, if it made the episode a bit gory. (Squeamishness warning: someone gets starved to death. Ugh. *shudder*)
There were some good performances from the supporting cast, too: Scorcha Cusack as Professor Pinnock was possibly the best Oxford professor anywhere, intellectual and scatty and feminist, and Amelia Bullmore’s emotional performance as Caroline Hope was extremely convincing. Hathaway was laconic and melancholic, as he always is, and considered leaving the police force, as he always does, and Lewis was…well, Lewis.
The whole caboodle was nicely finished off with the addition of a monk on a motorbike, an Italian Catholic who for some reason reminded me very strongly of the Queen, and the cloisters from the Harry Potter films. And if that all sounds a bit surreal, wel, the Intellectual Murder Mystery is, by definition, an inherently surreal genre. Which is what, of course, makes it such fun to watch.