The Sniffer / Нюхач

Published: August 30, 2019

The Sniffer (Нюхач) is a Russian-language detective TV series, produced in Ukraine by the FILM.UA group. The series was originally released on November 11, 2013 on the Ukrainian channel ICTV.

The series is about a man with an extraordinary sense of smell. Nicknamed “The Sniffer,” he uses his superhuman sense along with his vast knowledge to solve crimes in Kiev.

Directedby Artem Litvinenko, the seriescurrently has 24 episodes over 3 seasons and is still ongoing. A fun fact is that the protagonist, the Sniffer’s name is never mentioned throughout the entire series. All episodes are available for free on YouTube and Netflix subscriptions in some countries.

Below, you will find the series premier, a synopsis of the first episode and a brief analysis of the series and its critical reception.

Watch the series premier on YouTube (English subtitles available):

The full series is available on Netflix (with English subtitles).

For more information, check out the show’s official site.

 

Synopsis

The series premier begins with The Sniffer, played by Kirill Kyaro, at an airport. As he boards the plane and takes his seat, he takes a nasal filter from his nose. When the flight attendant offers him a newspaper and says “it’s fresh,” he smells it and confirms that it is.

Next, a man enters with a cast on his arm, and The Sniffer’s sense is alerted. He “sees” that a bomb is wrapped inside the cast. The Sniffer immediately demands to see the captain and tells him the seat number of the terrorist and the content of the bomb. Finding out that The Sniffer knows this solely by his sense of smell, obviously, they do not believe him. The Sniffer then tells them that they recently had intimate relations, twice, in the cockpit. They now believe him.

The scene cuts to The Sniffer driving a red sports sedan while listening to radio report about the incident. He snickers when credit is given to the local police force. He parks in an underground parking garage, which seems to not have any other vehicles there, and goes up an elevator.

Meanwhile, The Chief of the First Department of SBR (altered from SVR, Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation), Viktor Lebedev, played byIvan Oganesyan, is chasing a man at a construction site. The man attempts to cross a gap by running over a wooden plank, which breaks. He catches a cable but falls as he is being pulled up by Victor. He dies, stabbed by steel reinforcement bars on the floor beneath.

Back to The Sniffer, he is shown in his big apartment, which appears to be extraordinarily clean. He receives a call from his ex-wife, Julia, played by Maria Anikanova, who says that their son was caught with drugs at school. She tells him to go sort it out and complains that this is all because of him spoiling their child. She then takes pills after the conversation.

At the SBR’s office, Victor is approached by another officer who reports that the deceased man is the CFO of Zhylcenter and his phone record shows 27 unanswered calls to his CEO, Livashov, who is wanted by SBR. Victor then gets a call informing him that Livashov is dead.

The Sniffer arrives at the principal’s office where he finds his son, Alex. The principal claims that Alex and three schoolmates were found smoking marijuana, and that Alex had a pack of marijuana, indicating that he is the drug dealer the school has been looking for. The Sniffer, again, removes his nasal filter, smells the bag, and asks where the other three students are. Alex bursts out, saying the bag is his. The Sniffer leaves to find the three students, running into his ex-wife. She demands to see Alex’s track marks, obviously overreacting to the situation. The two argue.

The Sniffer finds the three students. He approaches one and empties the student’s back pack on the table, revealing multiple packs of marijuana.

Victor, at the crime scene where Livashov was found dead, finds no fingerprints nor sign of struggle.

Back at school, Julia forbids The Sniffer from giving Alex money without telling her and tells him to take Alex home. Alex tells him not to interfere in his life again.

The Sniffer arrives at the crime scene and is briefed by Victor. He takes a deep breath and the room’s scents become animated to show what happened. The Sniffer states that the murderer poured digoxin in the victim’s coffee. He identifies the killer as a middle-aged man with a nicotine patch on his right arm who regularly visits a specialized spa for lung health. He says Livashov had a bag with a number of 500 Euro bank notes printed in Berlin. On the way out, they encounter a cat, which obviously upsets The Sniffer.

Back at the SBR, Victor is interrogating Bulavin, a Zhylcenter employee but lets the man go. The Sniffer, now with a clear allergic reaction, hurries back to his apartment. In what looks like a scientific lab there, he finds and uses nasal decongestant. Victor calls to ask from where the sea salt by which The Sniffer identified the lung-health spa. The Sniffer’s responds that it is from the Laptev Sea. The Sniffer says that he is not to leave his house for the next three days due to his allergy.

Sitting on a bench in the middle of a night is Bulavin, who is then joined by a man who gives him a hundred grand. Bulavin says it is no longer enough and that killing Livashov was not part of the deal and he demands more money to keep his silence. The two depart, then the man appears again and shoots Bulavin.

The Sniffer, complaining about allergy specialists, is taken by Victor to a new specialist Victor recommends. The Sniffer is also not fond of the fact that his specialist is going to be a woman and asks if she has a PhD. Victor confirms that she does.

The specialist turns out to be very attractive and highly knowledgeable. While the Sniffer is certain that she will prescribe him Oxymetazoline, she responds by diagnosing that such chemical substance is actually making his symptoms worse and deduces that the Sniffer is using nasal filters. The Sniffer tries to distract her by using his ability to reveal very detailed information about her life and then tells her the specific chemicals he is allergic to. She notes that they come from cats, and this starts to impress him. She gives him medications, all of which he smells and accurately identifies, except for one tropical plant. Not acknowledging that it is possible to keep a secret from him, he takes steals some of that sample. They make an appointment for another session. Leaving, The Sniffer, unlike his usual self, calls to thank Victor. He later examines the stolen substance in his apartment, identifies it as Indian Trumpet, and happily remarks that nothing can be kept a secret from him.

The Sniffer arrives at the crime scene and concludes that Bulavin was holding the same bag of cash mentioned earlier and killed by the same person. The Sniffer says the bag belongs to the killer, and that it is a paintball bag from a club located in an old factory.

The scene cuts to show Julia in her house, who finds a large pack of marijuana hidden underneath Alex’s drum set.

When the Sniffer and Victor arrive late at the club, they are assigned to two different teams and agree to split up to search for the killer. The Sniffer finds him in the locker room. On the field, the killer relizes he is being chased and, when The Sniffer stands to tell Victor to get the suspect before he escapes, the killer shoots The Sniffer with a real gun. Victor chases and eventually catches the killer, who confesses.

The Sniffer is then shown on a rolling hospital bed, complaining of his serious injuries. The doctors replies they are minor to The Sniffer’s dissatisfaction.

 

Analysis

The series is a classic detective format updated to the modern world. In addition to having very high-quality cinematography, it tells its story in a very smart and engaging way. The acting, especially of the two main protagonists, is great, and the characters are unusual but also believable.

The Ukrainian tabloid Dusya( Дуся) or Darlingcommented that the series is a “hybrid” of several popular western series. “Obviously, this is a cross between Sherlock (played by Cumberbatch), Dr. Lightman (played by Tim Roth), and good old Gregory House – of course, performed by British comedian Hugh Laurie. And when I say that it is a hybrid, I mean from several prominent features inherent in the characters’ expression, and even situations in which they are placed.”

One of the most controversial subjects of the series is the participation of the Russian actor Alexander Fisenko, who has appeared on the List of People Who Pose a Threat to Ukraine’s National Security published by the Ministry of Culture since 2018. ICTV responded by allegedly releasing a censored version without his presence; however, the series had a scene with him on August 27. ICTV’s press service explained that it was a human error and that there would be no more of his appearance for the rest of the show.

Overall,The Snifferreceived overall a positive review, with a 7.3/10 on IMDb and 95% likes by Google users. The premier episode on YouTube has garnered 3.3 million views. The series also won multiple international awards – particularly from American sources. It’s awards have included the Gold Plaque Award at the Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards in 2014, the Platinum Remi Award at the World Fest Houston, the Certificate for Creative Excellence at The US International Film & Video Festival in 2015, as well as The Intermedia-Globe Gold at the World Media Festival in Hamburg.

About authors

Tanya Tanyarattinan

Tanya Tanyarattinan is a third-year, Thai international student at the University of Denver, double majoring in International Studies and Economics with minors in Russian and Japanese. She is currently studying Society, Business, and the Arts in St Petersburg with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship. With an interest in pursuing a career in politics, she travels to see how the world works from different perspectives. Her next stop is Berlin where she will complete her study abroad year. In her free time, she likes to play games and try new food.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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