Friday, 2 February 2018


Filmed in spring/summer 2016 and aired by Belgian television in december of the same year, French crime drama Prof T. (6 x 52-minute) will cease to gather dust on the shelves of private channel TF1 on February 8.

Mathieu Bisson stars as Julien Tardieu, an asocial and phobic criminology professor who assists the Nantes police judiciaire as a consultant.

Produced by Vema Production with TF1, Stromboli Pictures, RTBF (Télévision belge) and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, 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) quickly 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 (France 3's megahit Capitaine Marleau) 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 Lieutenant 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 seemed very confident when they commissioned a full season of Prof T. instead of their common 2 x 52-minute pilot formula. Belgian channel La Une aired the series in december 2016 but it will surface in France only next week. Directed by Nicolas Cuche and Jean-Christophe Delpias, Prof T. is produced by Véronique Marchat. Original music composed by Christophe La Pinta. Cinematography by Christian Abomnes. Filmed with the support of Région des Pays de la Loire. 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. 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.

See also:
(About the Flemish Professor T.)


Rob Buckley said...

There's one episode of the Flemish Professor T where I noted that Paul spoke French with a (former) colleague, rather than Flemish. I wondered if that was some social nicety of which I was unaware or simply a reflection of Belgium's bilingualism

Unknown said...

Paul has a proffesional past with this colleague in Brussels where French is the common language. At home with his wife he speaks French with his wife when he talks about things his granddaughter isn't allowed to understand. It may also be a wink to the bilingualism that makes collabaration between the police services difficult.

Unknown said...

Can anyone pass along the name of the music that plays at 20 min 55 sec in Episode 2 of Season 1 (titled "A Fatal Mistake")? I'd like to find this piece but don't know who wrote or performs it.

My wife and I here in Maryland love this show and experience a lot more humor than most online comments would suggest. We find the show more about human relations and less about plot than is found in most American TV, and the overall mix of human quirkyness and plot is well balanced.