Friday, November 4, 2022

The Death Row "Sherlock" of "The Inside Man"

 Let me start this review of Netflix's The Inside Man by saying this: I didn't have quite the grudge against Steven Moffat that some Sherlockians do after BBC Sherlock. However . . .

His new four-episode series The Inside Man on Netflix is a rather . . . unpleasant . . . thing with a Sherlock-ish character I'd have loved to see in a better show.

The series starts out with a commuter train bully so just plain yuck that he set off all my old bully alarms from high school as its hook. It was like a warning -- "This show is going to try to push your buttons, back slowly away!"

But it starred David Tennant. And we like David Tennant, right? Even as the villainous Purple Man in Jessica Jones, he was still watchable, right? And then there's Stanley Tucci, whom the good Carter and I used to think was the albatross warning of a video-store "dramedy" posing as a comedy when selecting movies at Blockbuster back in the day. Never been a fan.

But in The Inside Man, Tucci plays a death row prison inmate with Sherlock Holmes like abilities to solve mysteries. Stuck in one place like a Mycroft or Nero Wolfe, with a Watson who combines the comedic nature of a Nigel Bruce with the useful skill of a perfect memory and a clever mind, Tucci's character became the thing that kept me watching the show . . . or should I say part of the show.

The wife-murdering death row detective says early on that all it takes for anyone to commit murder is meeting "the right person," and you quickly know that is the path for David Tennant's well-off vicar in the show, who then spends the rest of the series making bad choice after bad choice as a priest covering for a pedophile. Did I say I favored Tennant over Tucci going into this show?

Watching the show I soon found I was fast-forwarding through the painful Tennant bits to get to the Tucci bits to see what he and his Watson were up to next. I can't think of a show where I ever did that before. The Tennant story would come on and skip-skip-skip, "Oh, here's the happy prison! Stop and watch this part!" 

I haven't finished it yet, and I hope Stanley Tucci somehow saves David Tennant's apparent victim before he finally kills her, But it'll probably go quickly.

Be forewarned about this one, Sherlock-ish character or no.


  1. I started to watch 'The Inside Man' - didn't see how you would skip parts until I viewed it a while. The crime with the woman didn't make any sense - Tennants' character should have resolved it in about 2 minutes with no one getting hurt except for, maybe, the pervert Didn't get through the first episode - never found out what that $253.55 was about - don't really care. Jim V.

  2. That's a very interesting take. Although he chewed the scenery in J.J. I thought Tennant was a welcome comedic relief from the dark, brooding mess that the rest of the show wallowed in (it was not my jam). I'm not a Whovian, really, so I don't think I had any special affinity for him.

    Tucci, I've really liked in a couple of shows—in The Terminal, he was my favorite character, and in Julie and Julia, playing Paul Child, I thought he was lovely. On the other hand, he's done many other films that I have no interest in watching, so I always go his films without much expectation of either greatness or disappointment.

    Netflix shows have a problem of too much time/space to fill. The storytelling can slow to a crawl, so I don't begrudge you your FF button. Go watch Inside Man instead, it's a good film. :-)

    There's just so much to watch, it's hard to find the time for everything they're putting out, particularly when they're 8-12 hour long seasons.