The oddly named Detective Inspector Rabbit was not a happy man. He had been sidelined, insulted and eclipsed by an eccentric amateur who was right about everything.
This kind of humiliation has happened to the weary brass of the world since the days of Sherlock Holmes.
It’s a great tradition, which didn’t help DI Rabbit (Andy Gathergood) feel better during Professor T’s (ITV) debut.
“These are oxen,” he mumbled (or words to that effect). Something dangerous for any character to notice in a new show. An unfriendly review might take it out of context.
Ben Miller, better known as DI Poole on Death In Paradise, is convincingly irritable as a professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge
Nasty and unfair, because Professor T is not a bad show. It’s derivative and predictable, slow and old-fashioned, but none of that makes it impossible to watch.
Whether we forget its flaws depends on the cast. Ben Miller, better known as DI Poole on Death In Paradise, is convincingly irritable as a professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge.
Former student Lisa Donckers, now Detective Sergeant (Emma Naomi), trains her in her investigation into a series of rapes on campus. He is reluctant, but agrees to help as he carries the torch of his boss – his former girlfriend (Juliet Aubrey).
The show is a remake of a Belgian original, which is part of why it looks dated. This is exacerbated by the academic setting, echoing Morse, Grantchester and a pile of others.
Professor Jasper Tempest doesn’t listen to opera or drive vintage cars (although he probably will, over time). He prefers to solve business by sitting on the roof and looking through the arrows.
The show is a remake of a Belgian original, which is part of why it looks dated. This is exacerbated by the academic setting, echoing Morse, Grantchester and a stack of others
This could all be taken from any classic detective series from decades ago. What really made the first episode seem irrelevant was the choice of crime.
Since the appalling murder of Sarah Everard on her way home earlier this year, and the nationwide wave of revulsion that followed, it seems wholly inappropriate to continue to describe such attacks as the standard fare of comfy crime series. .
But here we saw three young women, all ambushed by a hooded man wielding a knife, as they walked back to their rooms. Two were raped and the third was killed while trying to escape.
It makes the matter trivial to have it solved by a part-time detective with the usual tics and awkward manners while the police watch in awe.
All except DI Rabbit, of course. It’s hard to guess why the writers gave it such a silly name, unless it was a nod to Matt Berry’s Victorian sleuth, DI Eli Rabbit. If so, it does not bode well. Channel 4 canceled its Year Of The Rabbit after a series.
It will take more than the first episode to assess the return of Baptiste (BBC1), with this fascinating Franco-Turkish actor Tcheky Karyo.
The first signs, in a complex opening that revealed both the beginning and the consequences of a murder hunt, are that this is a crime drama at its best.
Fiona Shaw, so good at working upper-middle-class women who have no idea of their own family (just like she is in Killing Eve), plays the British Ambassador to Hungary.
She wakes up one morning to find that her husband and two sons are missing. In a parallel timeline, 14 months later, she wakes up, pulls herself into a wheelchair (it’s unclear how paralyzed she is yet), and travels to Paris with a tattooed hostage in the trunk of her car.
There she finds Detective Julien Baptiste – a broken drunkard. It’s a typically brilliant staging by writers Jack and Harry Williams.
I can’t wait for the rest and hope to see it again in more detail next week.
Weekend Bad Breath: While Antiques Roadshow (BBC1) was visiting Kenilworth Castle, Fiona Bruce told us that Elizabeth I loved desserts. At one meal, 300 sweet dishes were served “to satisfy your sweet tooth.” No wonder his squeakers are bad.