Rowan Atkinson's Best Role

I love Rowan Atkinson in just about anything. I adore him in The Thin Blue Line.

In The Thin Blue Line, Rowan Atkinson as Detective Inspector Fowler gets to use his excellent physical skills, as when he acts like an alien (to instruct his constables on tolerance), attempts to fight a tree hugger and dances badly at a disco.

He also gets to show his sarcastic side. Fowler is smarter than everyone else in the police station (other than Habib, who is the only one who can keep up with him intellectually) and, perhaps more importantly, more endowed with commonsense. He rolls his eyes at Detective Inspector Grim's obsession with (to name a few) Scotland Yard slang, secret societies, the supposed end of civilization (due to whatever Grim is upset with that week).

Not that Fowler doesn't have his weak spots (like the Mayoress and chocolate hob-nobs), but his weak spots only serve to endear him to his subordinates.

Fowler's supposed weakest spot is his intense middle-class, bourgeois conservatism. He thinks highly of the Queen and actually buys her a present--as befitting a civil servant. He tut-tuts at Habib's "modern" sarcasm. He insists on using terms like "fair play." He is a fan of the dull and boring. When Habib points out that watching sport (European soccer) is wet and boring, he replies, "Yes, it is," going on to argue that this is part of its "British" appeal.

Fowler's self-mocking yet entirely serious conservatism is very British and only matched in America by Tim Allen's Mike Baxter.

The Gasworth team isn't very good. However, "not being very good is what we British are good at," states Fowler with utter goodwill. Showing up and being disappointed is the British way.

Ultimately, it is Fowler's goodwill that makes him so appealing (and far more lovable than the excellent Black Adder). He is sweet, kind, gentle, honest, brave, and easy-tempered.

Fowler is an excellent leader--he has no trouble keeping his
constables in line, yet he encourages creativity, even argument.
The "role playing" skits (see above) are some of my favorites.
My favorite example of Fowler's kindness is when Habib gets into trouble for helping her sister at a rave. Habib takes her sister's marijuana to prevent her getting arrested. When Habib is discovered, Grim and Doyle threatened to charge her. Fowler pleads for mercy--he doesn't debate the basic wrongness of what Habib did or even pretend for a moment that Grim and Doyle don't have the rights of the situation. Rather, he finds a way to force Grim to trade his own vaguely unethical behavior for Habib's far more comprehensible mistake.

While speaking to Habib, Fowler cries, "You fool, constable. What madness possessed you?"

It is almost impossible to convey how Atkinson says that final line. It is gentle, pained. Habib is left in no doubt that he is entirely on her side. As her superior officer, he will do his best to protect her even if he is disappointed in her.

All great comedians are great dramatic actors. Atkinson is no exception. 

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