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'Inspector Rex' is the best TV show about a crime-solving dog you've probably never seen

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When a dog takes over control ...

Europe does some things better than the US. Some of you are nodding right now, others are frantically closing your browsers and screaming something about Bernie Sanders. If you don't believe that Europe has a leg up over the US in some things then I direct you to Inspector Rex, the single greatest TV show about a dog detective of all time.

Rex is the German shepherd star of this Austrian police procedural, and he's pretty much the best dog. Rex can open doors, unlock windows, sniff out drugs, attack bad guys -- he can pretty much do everything you want a police dog to do. It's important we take a step back for a second and appreciate that Rex is the star of the show. His human partners have rotated during the show's 18-season run, but Rex is a constant -- or Rexs, because let's face it -- the original Rex is probably dead.

So, why is Rex so amazing? First of all, his name. Rex is a dog nickname. His registered name is Reginald von Ravenhorst. REGINALD VON RAVENHORST. That's not a dog name, it's the name of a viscount whose ancestors' sausage business elevated the family's social status over three generations.

This dog has some deep-ass backstory. Rex was stolen by criminals as a puppy, but escaped and helped police solve their toughest case. Rex's kidnapping gave him preternatural understanding of not only the criminal mind, but a deep appreciation of safety. In the very first episode of the series Rex and his partner Moser decide to go house hunting, because they're roommates. They settle on a place they like but the owner of the apartment won't lease it to them because he doesn't want dogs there. Then Rex alerts him to a gas leak and he allows them to stay.

Inspector Rex is not a comedy. In fact, Inspector Rex doesn't know what it wants to be. One second Rex and Moser are our busting up a heroin ring, the next Rex is stealing the chief of police's ham roll (an ongoing gag). It's like the producers stuck every winner of the Eurovision song contest in a room, gave them a pad of paper and told them to create a TV show.

At this point you're either on board with what Inspector Rex brings to the table, or you're a soulless husk of a human being, kept alive only by that weird rebreather Immortan Joe had in Mad Max: Fury Road.

A close reading of Season 4, Episode 10: "Deadly Passion"

The episode opens with a two-minute long shot of a shifty looking dude driving a boat. You can tell he's shifty because his lips are pursed together and his eyes keep darting around.

Back at police HQ Rex is waiting patiently for his first case of the day. Christian walks through the door whistling happy birthday and carrying a giant ham roll he keeps insisting is a cake. Rex trips him over.

cake

The relationship between Rex and Christian Böck has always been tenuous. Here's how the show's Wikipedia page defines their relationship:

"Böck and Rex share a rivalry, with Böck trying to outsmart Rex, but Rex wins nearly all the time. Böck is also one of the few who question Rex's abilities as an elite police dog, but Moser keeps telling him that he has always been this way."

Back to Mr. Shiftyman. He's arrived at a warehouse and meets a woman who looks like an off-brand James Bond villain. She asks him when the "shipment will arrive," ominous music plays. Shiftyman pulls up next to a shipping container, looks at a manifest, gets in his car to listen to some sweet Austrian dance music and then gets crushed by a shipping container.

murder

MURDER MOST FOUL!

It's Höllerer's birthday! Which explains the ham roll, cake, thing. Moments after seeing a man crushed by a shipping container we're back to laughs and mirth. Love you, Inspector Rex. Sadly, the party is interrupted by the report of the homicide, which is immediately determined to be a murder despite the fact this totally could have been a horrible accident.

Moser conducts his boring non-dog-based interviews and decides to learn more he needs to infiltrate an underground gambling ring. It's at this time we realize Moser is the worst undercover cop in the history of undercover cops. He does all this work to get a seat at the table and this is literally the third thing he says to the obviously dangerous criminals.

moser

"HI HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THAT MAN WHO WAS JUST MURDERED?"

It works, though, because the criminals reveal way too much immediately to a man they just met and is almost assuredly a police officer. Finally Moser asks one too many questions, they pull off his jacket to reveal a complete unhidden holster with his gun. A fist fight breaks out and Rex jumps into action.

The dog breaks through the window, tackles a bag guy, bloodies his nose and keeps Moser safe. Best dog ever.

Moser arrests one of the men and returns to the shipping yard to ask him some questions. Suddenly a wild crane attempts to kill them all with another falling container. Rex gets a splinter. The criminal runs away and into a truck, prompting a high speed chase. Little does he know that Rex was waiting in the truck bed all along!

rex

Best dog ever.

Moser, Rex and Böck investigate Shiftyman's family thinking they might have more information about the murder. Moser finds a suspicious bag of lingerie that reads "KINKI," while Rex barks at a painting of sausages.

We learn that Shiftyman was killed by his son, because he was having an affair with his son's wife. Oh, and she was pregnant, so Shiftyman's wife would have given birth to her husband's half-brother. This show RULES. The killer confesses, the police have their man and all is well.

Back to Höllerer's birthday party! Rex gives his suspenders with ham rolls on them, while the rest of the department buys him a ham roll hat. ALL HAM ROLLS EVERYTHING SON!

ham roll

So concludes a seminal episode of Inspector Rex. The greatest television show of all-time.