If IMDb’s trivia section is correct, then the titular character of Belgium’s latest winner, Professor T., is loosely based on Will Graham from Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs. In reality, T.’s demeanour is more Hannibal than Graham, and far more reminiscent of Hugh Laurie’s world-renowned character Dr Gregory House. In fact, if Laurie got darker and dried up his shtick, and grew fluent in Flemish, you could plonk Hugh Laurie in the show quite seamlessly.
Welcome to the electrifying mind of Professor T (Teerlinck).
He’s not your average university lecturer
In one of House’s rare brilliant episodes, "Three Stories", House takes over a diagnostic class and demonstrates three acts worth of Machiavellian technique to teach the kids the mother of lessons in the most memorable of ways. That eccentric class is basically the precinct of Professor T.’s world, except here the stakes are higher and subjects darker, as between lectures Prof T. is Antwerp’s leading police psychologist.
It’s understandable if you’re thinking, "They’ve just copied How To Get Away With Murder!" Rest assured the similarities are only superficial.
His brilliance lets him get away with being a jerk
House loved to belittle everyone – from strangers to staff to superiors. T.’s the same, except in a far less cheeky fashion. His insults are to the point and spoken as fact – so comfortable in his ability to be an ass that there’s no need to sass it up like Gregory.
But it's hard not to accept - or even come to grow fond of - T.'s dickish tendencies when he goes to elaborate extents to give his students a visceral learning experience (the ingenious lesson plan for episode one is a bucket-load of inspired fun) and uses just as grandiose experiments to solve a crime.
Like the Vicodin-skewed (and increasingly ludicrous) apparitions of House’s inner world, T. sees things that aren’t there. So far, we get little sense that it bothers T. – in fact, in one particular scene he delays a conversation with a real person until the end of an imaginary cellist’s song.
T. seems to embrace these delusions, and even use them to his benefit. Exactly what they are is anyone’s guess.
He suffers from a polite case of germophobia
Hang on, this was a comparison to House, not Monk. Either way, T.’s entourage are a pump-bottle of hand sanitiser, a spray-bottle of disinfectant, a box of Kleenex and a pair of white gloves. Early on, it feels like there’s a visual link between his obsessive cleanliness and the intact crime scene. Whether that link becomes apparent is up in the bacteria ridden air.
He’s not only above the rules, he ignores them
T.’s shunting of convention or procedure, whether in the classroom or during an investigation, get him into various world’s of strife. The joy for us as an audience is that more often than not, his bold, left-of-centre and sometimes heartless approach is the more logical route to results.
His methods make House look like Carter (or any of the sensitive heroes) from E.R.
Of course, not everyone is as charmed by T. as you will be
The underlying struggles that propel his behaviour aren’t as clear as House’s injury-and-divorce-fuelled Vicodin addiction/clinical detachment from real human connection. Something darker and more complicated fills T.’s tank.
I could keep the comparison going, as T. even has a team of investigators who he relies on as sounding boards as much as he cajoles and ignores them.
But you can see for yourself by watching Professor T. on SBS On Demand.
Check out the first episode right here: