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Professor T, the German re-imagining of the hit Euro crime franchise, now on MHz Choice!

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Professor Jasper Thalheim isn’t the easiest person to get along with. He has a brilliant mind, several dozen psychological disorders and boundless energy, so when he isn’t lecturing on criminology at Cologne University, he’s helping the police crack their most puzzling cases – whether they like it or not!

With the tagline “One Iconic Lead – Three Different Takes” – there are four now, actually – the über-popular Euro crime drama Professor T launched in Belgium in 2015, followed shortly thereafter by French and German takes on the format. (There’s a Czech version of the show now, too.) What is it about the series that holds such cross-border appeal? And why is the German Professor T, in our humble opinion, the definitive take on this beguiling character? Read on!

He’s quirky – and that’s putting it mildly
He’s an irascible genius, he doesn’t care what other people think and even his OCDs have OCDs… Professor Jasper Thalheim may claim he’s “just” an academic, but inside he’s Sherlock Holmes and he knows it. Every episode digs deeper into his background and psyche, revealing past relationships, hidden obsessions and long-held secrets – not to mention his theatrically overbearing mother! Thalheim is played by Matthias Matschke, an actor you may recognize from his guest star role as Klaus Borowski’s former colleague in “Borowski and the Fourth Man” – one of Tatort: Borowski’s best installments. In addition to his dramatic work, Matschke is well known in Germany for sketch comedy, and it’s that diverse background that informs his performance to make Jasper a maddeningly complex, awkwardly believable and, at times, utterly hilarious creation.

He’s backed up by two of Cologne’s finest
Tatort: Cologne’s Freddy and Max will always be #1 in our book, but the rookie duo of Anneliese Deckert (Lucie Heinze) and Daniel Winter (Andreas Helgi Schmid) aren’t far behind. Unlike some other mismatched cop couples (hello, Bukow & König!), these two get the sleeping together out of the way first (off-camera) so they can get on with the crime solving. It’s actually Anneliese who brings T into the “Kripo Köln” fold – she’s his former (and best) student – not that he’d admit it, of course. If actress Lucie Heinze looks familiar, you might remember her as Viola Schneider, headstrong daughter of alleged medical malpractice victim Anton Schneider in Episode 3 of Money Murder Zurich – another popular ZDF series.

L to R: Andreas Helgi Schmid as Daniel Winter, Matthias Matschke as Professor T and Lucie Heinze as Anneliese Deckert

Points for style
From Professor Thalheim’s striking dream sequences to stunning Cologne cityscapes on the Rhine, Professor T benefits from a singular vision for every episode of its first two seasons – director Thomas Jahn, whose eye for composition is evident as he also serves as his own cinematographer! As the series progresses and we delve deeper into Jasper’s psyche, the look of the show becomes more and more stylized, too – a feast for the eyes as well as the brain. And speaking of which…

Mind games
We’re not just talking about the crime plots here, we’re talking about all the characters too – the supporting cast are just as psychologically damaged as the criminals, maybe more so! Mysteries are set up within mysteries – who is Anneliese hiding, what is Chief Inspector Rabe’s secret? – to be played out over the course of each four-episode season. (And just because a character’s dead, doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of them…) It goes without saying that the murder cases themselves are twisted and ingenious – it’s a good thing Professor Thalheim’s there to help unravel them!

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