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About that new PBS version of crime dramedy Professor T? Two words: “quirky” and “fresh.”

Comedian Ben Miller plays middle-aged Cambridge professor Jasper Tempest, whose childhood trauma afflicts him still—along with his wild, boundary-crashing mother (Frances de la Tour).

Professor T’s life gains, well, life when his former student, Detective Constable Lisa Donckers, beckons this renowned criminologist into the field. He protests. He doesn’t “like to get his hands dirty.” But when he chooses to join the detectives his humanity improves.

Just don’t expect a typical crime drama. Instead think The Secret Life of Walter Mitty meets Agatha Christie. After all, a comedian is at the helm. I laugh hard when Tempest’s imagination suddenly alters scenes. Such scenes include his fish called Walter speaking or his sensual rooftop tango with the lovely Detective Constable Inspector Christina Brand.

All the quirky fun doesn’t stop the show from being poignant. The show gets to me. Tempest knows the truth about complex human behavior, and although he muddles through relationships, he sees truth and speaks it. He also grieves it. His father taught him this.

Conflict abounds beyond the inevitable crime to solve. Tempest and Brand had a relationship. Young DCs Donckers and Dan Winters (Barney White) want one now. Tempest also suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The professor strides through the hallowed halls of Cambridge, immaculate in his suit and Latex gloves.

The supporting cast is full of familiar actors such as Emma Naomi (Bridgerton) and the award-winning (and scene-stealing) Juliet Aubrey as love-interest DCI Brand.     

The series began in Belgium and was remade in Germany and France before Britain created its own version. This 2021 series was awarded a second season. Adult themes discussed. Viewer discretion is advised. PG-13 estimated rating. (PBS/Amazon Prime)

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