Friday, November 12, 2010

Must Watch Friday - Inspector Rex

Did you grow up with Lassie movies, Black Beauty, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, or any of those feel-good dramas about faithful dogs saving the lives of their companions/absolute strangers? If you've got a soft spot for an animal hero then our columnist Annie West has a TV show for you.

I started watching 'Inspector Rex' or Commissar Rex' as it's known in German years ago as a way of practising my limited German language skills. In the process I got hooked. This long-running Austrian crime drama is a regular on Aussie TV and has something for everyone, starting with the terrific view of St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna in the opening credits, through (English) song lyrics that still puzzle me and improbable plots where our canine hero saves the day in dashing style.

Rex is a police dog owned by a detective in the Viennese Mordkommission (murder squad - see it IS good for my German, though I'm hoping my vocab of words to do with sudden death won't come in handy!). Rex is more than just a trained pooch. He's the reason our guys in Vienna always solve the mystery and clean up crime. Devoted to his owner/partner, Rex can sniff out a body, a clue, or a trail with ease. He hears things no human can. He risks his life in death defying acts like leaping through plate glass windows to grab the gun arm of the villain just before he shoots. Rex is the ultimate protector and all round clever hero. Add to that a weakness for ham rolls (every hero has to have a weakness) and a sense of humour, as well as big brown eyes and the fact that he's a sucker for anyone in need of help and you've got a great hero!

I love the last five minutes of each episode when Rex comes into his own, chasing the baddy through streets and over rooftops, leaping to the rescue, or in some way outsmarting the evildoers. The truth is Rex is far superior intellectually to his human colleagues but they don't mind and he never lords it over them. He's happy with a game of tug of war and another ham roll.

So what if the plots can sometimes be a little cheesy? There's a fun ensemble cast of detectives: Stockinger (precise and punctilious but so appealing he even scored his own spinoff show - fantastic for anyone wanting to see the gorgeous lakes around Salzburg), Hoellerer (suspender wearing and addicted to ham rolls too), Christian (he of the sparkling blue eyes and cheeky smile) and Kunz (who never quite manages to come out on top of any tussle with Rex). There's a larger than life cigar smoking forensic pathologist, a retired policeman who mentors Ricky (Richard Moser seen here on the left, who is Rex's first partner in the Murder Squad) and a lovely vet Rex never quite approves of as she might come between him and Richard.

The show has been so popular it survived Richard's departure and kicked off again with Alex Brandtner (below), then later with a pair of investigators (where I'm sorry to say my interest began to wane - possibly because the focus was on them rather than the star of the show!). Rex has even gone to Rome where he continues to solve crime. I suspect the Italians don't quite know what a gem they've got as the Italian writers insist on the human detective solving crimes, often it seems by intuition, rather than using Rex to his full potential.

Are you a lover of animal shows? If so, which ones? Do you have favourite heroes on four legs or do you prefer your heroes human?

Annie's current release doesn't feature any dogs but it does have a dashing European hero and, oh yes, some lovely horses who take hero and heroine on a sleigh ride through snowy forests. You can read about PASSION, PURITY AND THE PRINCE on Annie's website or grab a copy from Amazon or The Book Depository. Annie's also running a huge new contest with books to be won by seven different Australian romance authors. To enter go to the contest page on
Annie's website.


  1. Annie, what a fun blog! I used to be a real fan of Inspector Rex. Sadly, like you, I lost interest when the couple took over from the very picturesque Inspector Brandtner (although I could never figure out why he didn't have a girl!). Rex is such a load of personality and as you say, much smarter than the people. And the ham roll stuff used to make me laugh. Seriously, you guys, Inspector Rex is a dog who deserves his day.

  2. Anna, how did I know the canine hero would appeal to you? Of course he would! I love the fact that Rex is far more capable than the rest of the team in the investigation squad and that he still manages to have fun. Yes, the ham rolls are a great ongoing theme aren't they? And, I have to say, some of the other characters are quite endearing.

  3. uh-oh... now you've done it, Annie - you've given me a great excuse to walk down memory lane with the shows I used to love as a kid!

    There was Rin Tin Tin, the smarter than smart German shepherd which belonged to the cavalry. Lassie, so busy keeping little Timmy out of trouble while solving the neighbourhood problems...
    And then there were the very smart horses - Mister Ed who solved (or caused!) Wilbur's problems and Fury and My Friend Flicka who were kept busy solving ranch problems.

    And then there's Skippy who could say just about anything with a few well-chosen tsks!

    Hey, this was fun, thanks, Annie!


  4. Ooh, Annie, I LOVE Rex. He is just the smartest dog in the world. His grasp of the German language is utterly amazing, his cunning unsurpassed, his tricks endless and his sense of humour totally cheesy. What's not to love?

    Herr Moser and Herr Brandtner are nice and easy on the eye too :-)

  5. Hi Sharon,

    Do you know, I'd forgotten Rin Tin Tin. How is that possible? And I was a Mr Ed fan and of course Skippy. That was the most intelligent kangaroo I've ever met!

    Glad to help distract you for a while from all the other things you have to get done!

  6. Michelle,

    I like the fact that Rex has offsiders who are easy on the eye. It helps, doesn't it? As for a cheesy sense of humour - I find that very relaxing after a busy week. Glad to hear you enjoy Rex too! I reckon they had real fun writing those episodes.

  7. Hi Annie
    We love German Shepherds in our family (don't have one at the moment but will again) and so love Inspector Rex. But the Austrian setting is part of the appeal so we have never watched the Italian version.
    Another current favourite here in Australia is Bondi Vet. Not only is the show full of wonderful animals but it is hosted by Dr Chris Brown who is a tall, gorgeous hunk of a veterinarian! (Who my journalist friends say is every bit as nice as he appears on TV.)

  8. Hi, Annie!

    I've never watched Inspector Rex, but I'll have to now 'cause you've made it sound like so much fun! My first dog was a Rex look-alike.

    Black Beauty is my favourite four-legged hero. He was tall, dark, handsome and mute. But very brave and kind-hearted!

  9. Hi Kandy,

    I've not seen 'Bondi Vet' yet. I'll have to keep a look out for it. Yes, aren't the Austrian scenes great in 'Rex'? I love the glimpses of Vienna. So much nicer than my own visit there when it was way below zero!

  10. Hi Vanessa,

    Well, if you had a Rex look alike, this is definitely the show for you! Lots of time spent on the dog as well as the people.

    I used to watch Black Beauty too - what a winner!

  11. Well, frankly, I'm crushed that Inspector Rex has not made it to American television. Whyever not? When we have whole channels dedicated to absurdities -- and a channel called Animal Planet which must be just begging for his re-runs -- it seems a no-brainer for him to become an import.

    At the very least we should get the DVDs. Are there DVDs, Annie?

    I remember RinTinTin and Lassie, but after that I didn't watch much tv. But generally dogs make anything worth watching.

    And I'd love to see Vienna again. What a fabulous place. salzburg I've only ever seen in the rain. And more rain. And still more rain.