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Rowan Atkinson stuck the iconic pipe in his mouth as French sleuth Maigret in a new crime drama which certainly looks the business. But the question of whether we like it isn’t quite an open and shut case.
In a nutshell
Those of a certain age will always associate Michael Gambon with the role of Maigret, back in the early 90s. Those of an even certainer age will remember the 60s TV series. In fact, this detective has had almost as many on-screen incarnations as Sherlock Holmes. But Rowan Atkinson must be the unlikeliest Maigret yet. Perhaps feeling the burden of his comedic reputation, he massively overcompensated on the seriousness front, giving us a Maigret so stony-faced and withdrawn, it was like watching a miserable mannequin at work.
We get it. He doesn’t want us to look at his character and think “Mr Bean with a pipe”. But, in an era when TV cops have bags of personality, this Maigret doesn’t give us much to sink our teeth into. That said, the rest of the drama was a suitably handsome period piece, taking us through the streets of 50s Paris on the trail of a serial killer, and featuring some very natty clothes indeed. Hipsters and grannies would have both loved the feel of the show, if not the characters.
What's the verdict?
A bit of a mixed bag really. Great aesthetics, intriguing plot, and Rowan Atkinson certainly looks dashing in the role. But unless he comes out of his shell and shows us more Maigret then this adaptation risks being as stilted as the 50s social culture it’s immersed in.