Reviewed by Kate McMillan
Detective Inspector John Rebus (John Hannah) is a man in need of redemption. He has seen too much, lost too much, compromised too often. He seeks redemption through the one thing he still believes in - justice for the slain.
Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rebus is a hard and unvarnished look at criminal behavior, found both on the streets and inside the police station. It is cynical, sometimes disturbing, and always engrossing.
The series is based on books by Ian Rankin. As with most adaptations, fans of the written word may not be satisfied with casting and character portrayals. However, Rankin's well-conceived mysteries stand on their own. Even if John Hannah doesn't fit your mental picture of D. I. Rebus, these are finely crafted tales well worth watching.
And the mysteries do come first in this series. So much so that at first the supporting cast seemed to be nothing more than window dressing. But as time goes on the relationships and histories between Rebus and the supporting characters are beginning to come to light and the characters are gaining dimension. Although, if these never fully develop, the series could continue on the strength of Hannah's performance alone. His ability to believably sway between haunted and charming is the quality missing from several Batman movies.
Just as your eyes must adjust to the darkness, it takes time to become accustomed to the dark and unfamiliar world of Rebus. Knowledge of modern culture in the region may be helpful to the viewer. But the greatest hurdle to U.S. success for this series may be the accents.
Beneath the thick Scottish brogue lies taut dialogue and textured storytelling worth learning how to turn on closed captioning.
Rebus airs on BBC America Mondays at 9:00 Eastern.
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