Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Lucy Cohu, Shaun Dingwall, Mark Heap, Aiden McArdle, Kevin McNally, Dorothy Atkinson, Ben Caplan, Paul Chahidi, Mia Jexen, Katherine Kanter, Jonathan Newth, Wanda Opalinska, Chook Sibtain, Leo Starr, Robin Weaver, Tom Wlaschiha, Stephen Wright, Max Wrottesley.
We all reach that decision sooner or later, we find ourselves perhaps tempted by the thought of a better life, of a world in which our care free abandon can run free riot and be held by the person that our dreams desire or we can keep going, being safe, being right and knowing full well the path we have chosen is not governed by avarice and jealousy, not by the path of the bullet.
In one of I.T.V.’s more bold and promising decisions, to make sure there was a second series of Maigret was one that surely could not be denied the armchair detective, one that demanded it was not going to be confined to just the prospect of one season and pushed aside like a cheap cigarette on the steps of Montmatre as the local police passed by; this is a much loved detective series which sees Rowan Atkinson really flex his dramatic muscles and one in which he should have done many years ago.
Maigret’s Night At The Crossroads is a joy of television, it frames superbly the weight of conscious that weighs heavily on the mind, especially in the after effects of a devastating and prolonged war, of just how far someone is prepared to sell their dignity, their self respect, their soul for. The thin blue line is always one that has the biggest fear of being crossed and when the opportunity comes to be seen to be in the right or to cross your fingers and take the coin, Maigret’s question on ethics and corruption is apt and thought provoking.
The saying was there was nothing worse than a bent policeman, a person to whom the lure of an easy back-hander was to be avoided, it is one that still holds up in the 21st Century for the person who will shake your hand and ask with sincere hatred what your name is, that is the person to be avoided. It is not a lesson that Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret forgets as he is forced to admit all is not well in the department.
The episode is a tussle, a tug of war with only one winner as both Rowan Atkinson and the great Kevin McNally stand opposite each other in stature and reputation upon the screen. It is one that is both gigantic in its appreciation and distinctive in its delivery and whilst there will be those who perhaps suggest that bigger battles have been fought on television, there will be few that evoked such quiet zeal, an argument with few words but with a mountain of eye contact is the most perfect of all.
A wonderful return for Rowan Atkinson and surely, like David Suchet’s fulfilled ambition to film every Poirot story, the same distinction should be offered to Mr. Atkinson, the most enjoyable of representations of the quiet Parisian Detective, Jules Maigret.
Ian D. Hall