The Turkish Detective review – downright ridiculous, in a good way

The Turkish Detective

In the beginning of The Turkish Detective, the main character Mehmet Suleyman is picked up at Istanbul airport by his boss, Inspector Ikmen. Suleyman, a Turkish-born, British-raised police officer, is asked why he transferred from the Met. He starts to answer in Turkish, but his boss prefers him to speak English for practice. The show is a simple cop drama set in Turkey.

How fortunate! It seems that Suleyman encounters many people who need to work on their language abilities, including his ex-girlfriend and the suspects in the murder investigation he is involved in. It may not be very realistic, but this series doesn't claim to be authentic: it is based on Barbara Nadel's Inspector Ikmen crime novels, adapted by Ben Schiffer, a former Skins writer. Nadel, originally from the East End, now lives in Essex.

The TV show is not completely fake. It is filmed in Istanbul, with the first two cases focusing on the luxurious homes of wealthy people in the city. Most of the actors are Turkish, with the exception of Haluk Bilginer, who some may remember from his role on EastEnders in the late 1980s. In the show, he plays Ikmen, a detective who is older but smarter than he appears, a rebel and surprisingly charming.

Ethan Kai, who first appeared on the UK soap opera Emmerdale, plays the role of Suleyman, a young detective with unclear motives. Despite his British upbringing, Suleyman is not easily classified into a stereotype, often appearing expressionless amidst the chaos around him. Yasemin Allen portrays a suave and sarcastic female police officer character, without the burden of being the tech-savvy Tarik who is portrayed as bearded and bespectacled.

All of this may seem very cliched, but The Turkish Detective really needs to start with an exciting plot to have a chance at success. The first case – the murder of Gözde, a teenage girl engaged to a wealthy businessman – barely manages to do this. With her angry father, suspicious fiance, boyfriend on the run, and hidden TikTok account (which Ikmen's teenage daughter follows), there are many suspects and unexpected twists. However, it misses the chance to explore misogyny in Turkey. When Ikmen's daughter wants to speak at Gözde's memorial, advocating for the responsibility of perpetrators to change rather than girls needing to protect themselves, her father dismisses it as naive. This is reinforced by his actions later on. The treatment of women in the story is uncomfortable, with Ikmen asking Gözde's father who would want to harm such a respectable girl, implying she may not be. Does this mean she deserved to die?

Another woman who doesn't follow societal expectations is Suleyman's former girlfriend, who works as an investigative journalist. She also faces challenges. The true reason for Suleyman's return to Turkey is revealed when it is discovered that his ex-girlfriend was recently in a car accident, which may have been an attempt to stop her from publishing her latest discoveries. The accident left her with severe head injuries that seem medically inexplicable. What shocking revelation had she uncovered? Suleyman's informal investigation into the incident would be more interesting if our guide was more engaging.

Even though the setting of The Turkish Detective may not seem like it, the show actually falls into the traditional cozy British detective genre. The team's investigative methods may not always make sense (sometimes they are just plain ridiculous), but that's all part of the charm – it's a comforting escape into a world where the truth always comes out in the end. The pace of the series can be a bit strange, sometimes moving as slow as molasses and other times racing ahead at lightning speed. The relaxed atmosphere and the quiet, empty spaces in conversation make it easy to get lost in a daze while watching. With its simple yet far-fetched plots and the dream-like blend of British and Istanbul vibes, The Turkish Detective won't keep you on the edge of your seat – in fact, it might just lull you into a peaceful sleep.

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