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A Superb British Crime Drama!
on June 24, 2006
With wonderfully complex plots and recurring characters, Rebus is an absolutely first-rate crime drama based on the novels by Scottish author Iain Rankin. Though set in Edinburgh, it is not the charming, picturesque, historic old city as seen by the casual visitor that we are privy to; rather, the viewer is taken on a journey through the dark, gritty, cankerous underbelly of what, on the surface, is one of Britain's loveliest old cities. This is a series peopled by characters who are all too human, and it holds back no punches in its realistic portrayal of the criminal world.
Detective Inspector John Rebus (John Hannah (McCallum)) is one of the most curious, indeed fascinating, DIs I've come across. He's a competent and committed police officer, but a flawed human being with his own set of personal demons with which he must contend. He's a deep, multi-faceted character for whom nothing is black and white, and he's not immune to making serious errors in judgement, to lying in order to achieve his objective, or to experiencing the temptation of a "pact with the devil." He often makes decisions which shock the viewer, for we know that, even though we may understand his motivation, they are decisions which would never be condoned by the police. Indeed, is it any wonder he drinks a little too much and has more than a little trouble sleeping? Nor are we surprised to find that he has more than a little trouble forming and holding on to relationships with women.
Rebus is a wonderfully rich, dynamic, and interesting character, and I personally felt that John Hannah did a superb job in bringing him to life. I don't know why Hannah left the series or if he did any more series after this one, but I do know that I prefer these episodes and Hannah's portrayal much more than the recent pair of episodes wherein Ken Stott has taken over the title role (I just didn't warm to the character as portrayed by Stott).
The set consists of four 100-minute episodes and a very interesting dvd extra on the making of the series, which features informative comments about the nature of the series and the character of Rebus by both John Hannah and Iain Rankin.
In conclusion, this is a series I recommend unhesitatingly to fans of British mysteries and crime drama in general. There may be less in the way of comic relief, but I would still say that if you enjoy shows like A Touch of Frost or Delziel and Pascoe, chances are you'll really enjoy this one.