And now for something completely different! In 1989, Patrick Malahide played the caddish Art History professor, Dr. Michael Harrison, in the S04E07 episode of “Boon”, titled “In It for the Monet“. The eponymous Ken Boon (Michael Elphick), a retired firefighter turned private investigator, has been hired by the parents of art student Isobel Sheridan (Clare Holman) to figure out where, why, and how Isobel seems to have so much disposable cash lately. Boon has set a couple of his associates, Rocky Cassidy (Neil Morrisey) and Laura Marsh (Elizabeth Carling), to tail Isobel around her university to find out what she does and who she meets with. In the process, they discover that Isobel’s relationship with Dr. Harrison is rather more intimate than just that of student and teacher.
Isobel, who has been partying all night, has been in the library most of the day working on something, By this time, both Rocky and Laura are convinced that she’s “on the game“, which is where they believe her money must be coming from, with Harrison involved as well. However, Boon wants them to collect more conclusive evidence before he talks to Isobel’s parents, so Rocky has been staking out Isobel in the library for a few hours while trying to pass as a student. It’s uneventful until Isobel meets Dr. Harrison between the shelves.
[Isobel is re-shelving a book when Dr. Harrison saunters up behind her. It’s a definite saunter. He leans over and plants a kiss on the back of her neck. Rocky looks on with an expression of shocked horror.]
Isobel [whispering]: Where were you until six o’clock this morning?
RF: Well, if we didn’t already suspect there was a lot more going on between them than met the eye, that familiar little kiss to the back of Isobel’s neck and her asking Harrison where he was until six o’clock in the morning (in a somewhat jealous and accusatory tone) would cement the deal. 😮 Hardly the usual sort of thing between a teacher and student! But there’s a lot of familiarity to it, like they’ve done this a lot before.
Admin: Oh, I do love the way he casually saunters up. He is so utterly confident and completely full of himself, but not in a swaggering way. He’s like a smug cat. Isobel is very fetching with the very direct way she wonders what he has been up to.
RF: Aaaaannnnd Harrison knows just how to pique Isobel’s interest and her jealousy by not answering her directly at first. He’s being insufferably coy, casting his gaze off to one side to seem even more nonchalant about the whole thing.
Harrison [innocently]: Looking after your interests…?
Admin: It just adds to his overall air of confidence (and even his charm). He knows he’s being insufferable and seems to enjoy the air intrigue he is creating for her. He knows he is incredibly attractive and seems to think he has her in the palm of his hand, but she’s pretty darn confident herself and for good reason, so he ought not get too carried away.
RF: I suspect that part of the attraction is that Isobel isn’t afraid to spar with him.
Admin: They certainly like the back-and-forth element.
RF: More familiarity. Isobel is obviously very well-acquainted with what Harrison is like since she refuses to rise to his bait, and states (accurately) that he’s only concerned with his own interests. Mind you, she doesn’t realize just how much he’s looking after his own interests until the last act of the show. And Harrison’s little smirk before mentioning the diplomat’s son seems to say that Isobel’s got him in a fair cop, there. But his sultry gaze says he’s not done flirting just yet.
Isobel: You’ve never looked after anyone’s interests but your own.
Harrison: I think the diplomat’s son might put a few pennies in your piggybank. Did you sort it with him?
Isobel: I think he’ll be a happy man.
Admin: Yes, she’s got his number, but only to a certain extent. I like the vaguely condescending way he talks about a “few pennies”. It is border line irritating. Well, it would be flat-out irritating if Harrison wasn’t so naturally cool and appealing. As you say, it isn’t until the end of the episode that we realize he isn’t exactly kidding as her cut is pennies compared to his far more substantial one. At any rate, her mood improves greatly, so he’s doing well in this round.
[Rocky continues to watch, wide-eyed.]
Harrison: Okay. Alberti phoned this morning. He’s very impressed with you.
Isobel [purring]: I’m very impressive.
Harrison: You’re in with a chance there.
RF: The temperature in the library should be rising by now, with all of the mad flirting going on. No wonder Rocky is so shocked. The little scene seems to confirm everything he and Laura have suspected about Isobel and Harrison’s relationship, with its vague implications of something… extracurricular… going on. In the meantime, Isobel proves she can give as good as she gets in the innuendo department, while Harrison looks at her with a heavy-lidded gaze that says he’s imagining all sorts of improper things. Oh my! 😮 It’s all very sexy without a single overtly sexy bit of dialogue being uttered.
Admin: Yes, the chemistry is undeniable. And although you can tell he’s pretty much a scoundrel, it is easy to see why Isobel finds him very attractive. Poor Rocky seems like he’s never seen such a display. Well, to be fair, it isn’t the sort of thing you usually find going on the library.
RF: Except at schools where Dr. Harrison teaches. 😀 I wonder if the librarians dread seeing him come in, or if he gets them all a-flutter?
Admin: We’ll get Rocky on the case to find out.
Isobel: We’ll see. In the meantime… [produces manila envelope] …you owe me.
[Harrison eyes the envelope, then Isobel, then looks around to see if anyone’s watching them. Rocky continues to watch, unseen by either of them. Harrison takes the envelope, then produces several stacks of cash from his inside jacket pocket.]
RF: For all of Harrison’s talk later in the episode that selling essays is very much de rigueur amongst universities and students (spoiler alert: it isn’t), he does seem to be enjoying the whole cloak-and-dagger aspect of this little transaction. Or maybe he just likes having hushed, innuendo-filled conversations with Isobel between the library stacks. In any case, she’s more matter-of-fact about it than he is; she keeps her gaze on him while he takes out the money, as if she wants to make sure he’s not going to pull a fast one on her. Despite that, the scene really does suggest a very high level of intimacy between them, and Isobel manages to keep some measure of control. But if there’s a Mrs. Harrison somewhere in the wings, she’s probably unaware she married a rotter.
Admin: Oh, I think he’s definitely having a blast being the bad boy professor. There is loads of money rolling in, and he is improperly involved with his attractive and brilliant students. Granted her interest is primarily in the money, but I think she’s also enjoying the danger and side perks almost as much as he is.
RF: Agreed, they’re both getting an enormous thrill out of this, from both the clandestine, forbidden aspect and the fact that each thinks they’re getting the better of the other – but they’re massively enjoying the chase.
Harrison [counting stacks of bills]: Titian… Leonardo… and that’s for the Monet.
[He shoves the bills under Isobel’s crop top, which doesn’t seem to faze her at all. Rocky’s eyes bug out in horror as Isobel and Harrison kiss passionately.]
RF: If everything else didn’t suggest a certain amount of possessiveness and a relationship in which the power dynamic gets passed back and forth between them, Harrison’s shoving the money up Isobel’s crop top (after counting out the bills and smirking at her) certainly does. There’s a definite suggestion of ownership there. Even more so that she doesn’t seem fazed or insulted in the slightest – in fact, she seems to find it a huge turn-on, since she’s the one who initiates that passionate kiss. No wonder Rocky’s eyes are bugging out of his head! Plus I’d have to guess that they’re both getting a tremendous charge out of the possibility they might get caught. Like I said, is it getting hot in that library? 😀
Admin: The sax music that plays on the soundtrack during the kissing scene is hilarious. It makes it seem like Rocky is watching a movie he ought not be watching. The poor lad even has to lift his glasses to ensure they don’t steam up. Harrison definitely shows his possessive side as he stuffs the money up her top. While she obviously likes his attention in the heat of the moment, we can see it is actually a clear display of power on his part.
RF: Oh, agreed, the sax music is cheesy and hilarious, yet so appropriate. 😀 As for Rocky, since he’s only seeing what’s happening without being able to hear anything, no wonder he assumes all kinds of things. He just saw an exchange of cash for… something, followed by a steamy kiss. He’s hardly going to assume it’s an academic matter! Also true that it’s very much a power thing on Harrison’s part. Isobel can spar with him on an intellectual level, but he’s in control of the money – and he’s letting her know it.
Isobel [smirking]: I’m only in it for the Monet.
Harrison: [Rolls his eyes in amused disgust at her pun as Isobel smirks happily.]
RF: Apparently an art history degree doesn’t do anything for one’s ability to come up with good puns. Nonetheless, Isobel practically purrs, “I’m only in it for the Monet,” at Harrison, who rolls his eyes in fond forbearance in return. Isobel is just so cute (and useful to him) that he can’t possibly hold her bad pun-making against her. It’s more likely they’ll find a nice, quiet broom closet somewhere and have a quick snog before he has to get back to class, instead. 😉
Admin: Well, it is also the title of the episode, so it can’t be *that* bad of a pun. 😀 Her self-satisfied smirk shows that she isn’t the least bit fazed by his disapproval of puns at least.
RF: Well, how incredibly steamy was that? 😀 This is a very interesting scene for establishing the dynamics of Isobel and Harrison’s relationship, and also for displaying that while Harrison might have heard of academic ethics, he certainly doesn’t ascribe to them. We’ve mentioned before elsewhere that Dr. Harrison is a total cad, and this scene just proves it. That said, both he and Isobel appear to be thoroughly enjoying his caddishness. There’s a lot of sidelong looks, intimate whispering, in-jokes and innuendo appropriate to an ongoing relationship going on here, and it has to be said that Isobel gives as good as she gets. But Harrison still reminds her who the boss is. I also have to say that Mr. Malahide and Clare Holman have a huge amount of chemistry in this scene. You can almost feel the heat waves coming off of them! It’s almost too bad that Isobel has to find out what an absolute cad Harrison is.
Admin: It is a very well executed scene, and with all the steam and intrigue it really is a different one. It shows their dynamic with a lot of sizzle and chemistry, but I also like how it can be seen in a slightly different light by the end of the episode when she realizes Dr. Harrison isn’t all she had cracked him up to be. It is a brilliant scene from a really enjoyable episode. I like it a lot.