What to do…

Posted By on September 29, 2010

when favorite characters are taken in a direction of which we do not approve.

A bit of background… I have loved Inspector Morse for most of my adult life. I mourn him still. In fact, I mourn him so much (both the Inspector Morse of the novels and John Thaw, who was surely born to be Morse), I’ve been watching Inspector Lewis. It’s not that I don’t love Lewis as well. He was a beloved character in his own right, as well as a method for humanizing Morse. But–I’ll admit–the first episode of Lewis only won me over because of Hathaway (or Laurence Fox–I really can’t be sure which). I was so wounded by the idea of Lewis losing his wife, I had to mourn all over again, and it felt gratuitous–a way of keeping her out of the plot (families can take up pages, you know)–and of making him–like Morse–a bit broken.

However, from episode two on, I’ve been hooked. But occasionally, they change Lewis enough that it pulls me out of the story to wonder what could have been the reasoning. Tonight, I watched an episode on the DVR–Lewis has bought tickets for opera for a weekend away with a woman friend. I’m taken aback at Lewis dating, though obviously, he would be. But opera? Morse used to drive him crazy with opera. Also, though he was the IT guy (relatively) for Morse, he’s not a bit of a tech in this series (though his daughter is able to guide him). I’m not looking for him to be Mr. IT. I just found it jarring (taking me out of the story) when he asked Hathaway if he the word he was looking for was the “net.” Lewis would have known that much. All of that said, I had a little sigh when he said he preferred Wagner because it was a clear “in” allusion to Morse.

I don’t mind at all that there’s more normal affection on this series than in Morse. Hathaway and Lewis clearly admit (though never with words) that their friendship matters as much as their work relationship. That’s fine with me. I don’t even really mind (once I get over myself) that Lewis is dating. But I do mind the break in  consistency. If they’d given Lewis a chance to tell us that he’d learned to love opera without even knowing as Morse towed him around in his vintage Jag, I’d have gone with that. (So that’ll be in my head from now on, thank you very much!)

And I have a point. Never change a character to make the plot work. Characterization wields the hammer if you want to keep your readers inside the story. (Italics to remind me to remember this knowledge I should already know.)

Now I have to go protect the epis of Lewis on our DVR. I may be cautioning myself re my own writing because Lewis has lost his rudimentary IT skills and suddenly goes away for opera, but I’ll be happy to watch again! (The characters are that good!)

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