Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Lucy Cohu, Shaun Dingwall, John Light, Mark Heap, Katia Bokor, Aiden McArdle, Karen Cagnon, Amber Anderson, Michael Fitzgerald, Ian Puleston-Davies, Peter Schueller, Hugh Simon.
There are many interpretations to any role, there are sublime ones and there are fresh readings, the ones that are arguably more remarkable because you know deep down the actor portraying the part has spent virtually all their lives preparing for the part and have therefore found the moment to give the exact reading the character deserves. For Rowan Atkinson, the role of Maigret must have played over and over again in his mind, the right nuance, the deliberate thought, the compassion, even to those in who do not deserve it, has to played just right and in the tale Dead Man, Rowan Atkinson plays Maigret with absolute conviction.
It is not hard to understand the appeal of both detective and the actor playing him, Rowan Atkinson, what is intriguing though is in the way one of the foremost masters of British comedy in the last forty years plays him. It is almost a nod to the exaggerated, a curious offering given Mr. Atkinson’s placing in people’s affections with roles that demand the exaggerated and inflated embroidering of the human condition.
It is not to belittle Mr. Atkinson’s part, quite the contrary, by being understated, by being reserved with the facial expressions, he in fact makes Maigret a fabulous detective, one that the author Georges Simenon would undoubtedly have approved of, but one filled with compassion, the job has to be done, the criminal or the murder terrorising his charges must be caught but as Dead Man showed with earnest reflection, to show compassion is strength, and in that strength comes justice.
The episode was one of quiet contemplation, of joining two mysteries together and by doing so set the bar high for the ranks of detectives coming our way in 2017.
With Shaun Dingwall combining well with Rowan Atkinson in the part of Inspector Janvier, Maigret rightly warrants the second series that has been commissioned, a touch of Paris that sits in the heart of the British television viewer with style.
Ian D. Hall