Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tatort: CSI Deutschland

 Every Sunday evening at 8:15 Germans tune into Tatort ["crime scene"]. This Krimi [detective show] has been running since 1970 (just celebrated 40 yrs!!!), and each episode takes place in a different city in Germany (or Austria or Switzerland). Different regions have their own production teams (about 17 total), and there is a different police chief in each place. So people have their favorites, like the Münster one, or Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne... And they love watching their local episode hoping to see neighbors as extras, or their favorite bar, or whatever. Also, there are bars that show Tatort on Sunday evenings so you can watch with other fans in public.

It's a part of German culture, for sure...and I've tuned in the last few Sundays I've been here. The quality was mixed. I would say the quality of the script, acting, etc. is not so great, but it's interesting to watch as a cultural phenomenon. The author of this awesome blog Ich werde ein Berliner gives a pretty scathing review, and describes it as "very German": "In fact, Tatort is so slow, tedious, and deliberately low-key that one 1.5 hour episode feels like a whole day going by. Halfway into it, you’ll want to inject caffeine into your eyeballs just to make it through the next minute." It's a pretty amusing critique (read the post).

If you speak German you can watch the latest episodes on ARD:

The New York Times also had an article about this show in 2009: German Viewers Love Their Detectives. From the article:  "Relatively speaking, violent crime isn’t common here. ...With a population of 82 million, Germany had 864 homicides in 2007; there were around 20 times as many in the United States, where the population is not quite four times as big."

"At one time three-quarters of German television viewers tuned in. Now, when cable channels atomize viewers, more than seven million people still make a ritual of turning off their phones and getting together on Sundays at 8:15 p.m. for an hour and a half to catch the show at home or in bars..."

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