Monday, 12 December 2016


Another eccentric/flawed sleuth joins TF1's French fiction line-up. After the android cop (Emma) and the irreverent lawyer (Munch) here comes Prof T., an asocial and phobic criminology professor.

Starring Mathieu Bisson, this 6 x 52-minute crime drama premiered on Belgian channel La Une last week, ahead of its French broadcast.

Produced by Vema Production with TF1, Stromboli Pictures, RTBF and RTS, Prof T. is actually based on Professor T., a Flemish series created by Paul Piedfort (Aspe) and launched in 2015 on Belgian channel Eén. The talented Koen De Bouw (Salamander, The Memory of a Killer) stars as Jasper Teerlinck, a brilliant but dysfunctional  professor in criminal psychology at the University of Antwerp. Human relationships are a challenge for the acerbic lecturer, who fears dirt (similarly to Monk) and proximity with people. Jasper despairs faculty secretary Ingrid Sneyers (Goele Derick) by never fulfilling his administrative duties. Only Walter De Paepe (Carry Goosens), dean of the university, considers his eccentricity with benevolence.

Police Inspector Annelies Donckers (Ella Leyers), an ex-student of Jasper Teerlinck, investigates the rape of a female student on the Campus Drie Eiken with her colleague Inspector Daan De Winter (Bart Hollanders). When they hit a brick wall, Annelies tries to convince Teerlinck to assist them. Chief Inspector Paul Rabet (Herwig Ilegems), who has personal issues, doesn't take it well. Christina Flamant (Tania Oostvogels), head of the detectives, already knows Jasper. Following the arrest of the campus rapist, Professor T. is hired by Christina as an advisor. His rich mother, Adelinde Van Marcke (Viviane De Muynck), is not enthusiastic. Maybe it has something to do with her son's frequent hallucinations?  

Professor T. (two 13 x one-hour seasons) rapidly goes beyond the "flawed sleuth" tropes of its premise to find its style with a certain melancholy and a bit of humour. The strong characterization is served by a great cast. The soundtrack is amazing, with a superb original music composed by Gregory Caron & Hannes De Maeyer and cool standards sung by Luigi Tenco or Will Ferdy (amongst others). Professor T. is produced by Skyline Entertainment (Salamander, Aspe) and distributed by Beta Film, which sells the format too. Novelist and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (Capitaine Marleau, Le secret d'Élise, Blood on the Docks) is behind the French adaptation, Prof T., set in Nantes with Mathieu Bisson as Pr. Julien Tardieu.

The Gaulic Professor T. is surrounded by Lieutenant Lise Doumère (Fleur Geffrier) and Dan Levasseur (Amir El Kacem). Christina Flamand (with a "D") and Paul Rabet are now played by Zoé Félix and Pierre Berriau. The excellent Mariamne Merlo plays Astrid Lestringent, the French Mrs Sneyers. The legendary character actor Jean Benguigui is Valéry D'Ormont, the local counterpart of De Paepe. Past the inevitable changes, Prof T. obliterates all the subtlety of its Flemish model right through the second episode with some (unnecessary) new material and an insistence on comedy. On the plus side, Mathieu Bisson convincingly composes his own version of the main character.

TF1 seems very confident as they commissioned a full season of Prof T. instead of a 2 x 52-minute pilot (Emma, Instinct, Contact). Just like Munch, which caught more than 6m viewers (24.5%) in September. If you don't already know the original please try to have a look at Professor T., a gem which makes you want to visit Antwerp and even learn Flemish. Prof T. is produced by Véronique Marchat. Original music composed by Christophe La Pinta. Filmed with the support of Région des Pays de la Loire. Directed by Nicolas Cuche. There's also a German adaptation called Professor T., produced by Rowboat Film- und Fernsehproduktion GmbH for ZDF and starring Matthias Matschke as Professor Jasper Thalheim.

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