An actor who is primarily known as a comedian plays an abrasive genius who is a substance abuser and treats everyone around him like shit, but gets away with it because he always solves the case, even if it's not always in time to prevent more death. But we've already talked about House MD. (Even more amusing since Robbie Coltrane and Hugh Laurie worked together on Alfresco and both appeared in Blackadder.)
I agree it's not a perfect analogy, but there are some similarities including the fact that Fitz has no problem getting women at least he does get DS Penhaligan who tells her DCI that she's invited Fitz to go on holiday and "roger her rigid," still one of my favorite lines from a UK TV show.
Fitz is clearly a compulsive gambler, probably an alcoholic and a smoker. He mocks the idea of recovery and calls anyone who goes to GA a wanker. In a lot of ways, he strikes me as what House would have been like if he weren't played by an actor who brings an immense amount of good will the way Hugh does and if they'd allowed him to actually be unattractive. House keeps SAYING he's unattractive, but it's sort of like Hollywood Homely. We all know better and every woman (as well as Wilson) is forced to swoon at his feet, either literally or metaphorically. (Also if addictive behavior would allowed to have real consequences in Hollywood, or at least on Fox.)
The one thing Fitz lacks is a "Wilson." NO ONE is allowed to even have the illusion of getting close which makes him even more of a superior bastard and there's very little slashy potential that I could see, and if I'm not mistaken there's also some borderline homophobia.
When I watched the episodes back in the 90's....I think they were being shown on A&E or possibly Bravo, I was with Fitz all the way and even found him attractive, since as Irene Adler told us, smart is the new sexy. And of course because Fitz IS always right, eventually. Plus the accent, and the power of the performance. ALL the performances really, because aside from Robbie Coltrane, we got Christopher Eccleston as DCI Bilborough and when he calls Tina O'brien, "You murderin' bitch," it's one of the most chilling things EVER.
One reason to get the show on DVD is the number of actors making debuts or early appearances and giving absolutely SEARING performances, including an incredibly young John Simm, an absolutely terrifying Robert Carlyle, and Susan Lynch as the aforementioned Tina O'brien. Her reveal speech is absolutely frightening and heart-rending. "I was born to be dog." I haven't seen the shows in YEARS and I can still hear a lot of the exact intonations of the dialogue. Also points for being the first show I remember being set in Manchester so the accent was very new to me. (Is there any LoM crossover fic out there? If not, why not?)
As much as I bought into it at the time, I know find certain aspects problematic, especially the whole Housian (and maybe even Sherlockian, or at least BBC Sherlockian) premise of the bastard gets away with it because he's a genius. I'm still mostly willing to give House the benefit of the doubt, which may be Hugh-lust still in the cauldron, or the love I had for the writing before it all went to hell. In retrospect though, if I were ANY of the other characters on the show, I'd pretty much want to bitch-slap Fitz ALL THE TIME. (It's the same problem that ruined the last season of Lie to Me for me.)
Then there's the rape. Because you know, they just HAD to have a rape to make Penhaligan so much more vulnerable. And then they had to make Jimmy Beck the rapist, simply because he was the character who had the most antagonism against Fitz. It slightly bugged me then and it really bugs me now. It gets worse, not only did that have to demonize Jimmy, they had to resolve the plot by having him commit suicide and leave a letter admitting to the rape, which prior to that we hadn't been 100% sure of because Penhaligan didn't actually see him. If they'd left it even remotely ambiguous, maybe it wouldn't bug me so much, but bug me it does. Again, mostly because at the time I was like, OH, Jimmy doesn't like Fitz, he must be the rapist. There was nothing else in his character that necessarily put him in that role, except hating Fitz.
Wow! Apparently I still have a lot of feels as our Tumblr friends would say.
I still think the show was amazing and it's well-worth you checking out if you've never seen it, but be aware, some bad stuff in with the good. The good is REALLY good though. To me Robbie Coltrane isn't Hagrid, he's Fitz. (Wiki tells me he won three consecutive BAFTAS for the part. Well deserved.)
Not to be confused EVER with the American version of which the less said the better. PROBABLY the worst attempt at Americanizing a British show until Life On Mars US. (Maybe it shows that what happens in Manchester should stay in Manchester.)