Today’s Times has an article about Tatort, a German TV police procedural that will soon celebrate its 40th year on the air:
“Tatort” is a little akin to what Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” was in America. It’s one of those modest pop-culture symbols and long-standing common experiences that can be hard for outsiders to translate but that speak to, and of, a nation. First broadcast in 1970, before video games or food processors and when Germany seemed permanently split in two, the show adopted the age-old formula of a pair of detectives solving a murder to devise a distinctly German version of the crime drama…
There are 15 versions of “Tatort” produced by the various regional divisions of ARD, the German public broadcasting system. So this means there’s a Leipzig “Tatort,” a Frankfurt “Tatort,” a Bremen “Tatort,” a Kiel “Tatort,” a Stuttgart “Tatort” and even a Vienna one, made by Austrian television, all of which take turns sharing the Sunday time slot with “Polizeiruf 110,” the former East German knockoff of the show, still producing new episodes occasionally.
The article makes inevitable mention of the Law & Order and CSI franchises, but this production scheme reminds me more of the old NBC Sunday Mystery Movie that alternated episodes of Columbo, McCloud, McMillan and Wife, and other shorter-lived crime series like Banacek. I’d be curious to check it out, but it doesn’t look like the series has been released in the American DVD market yet.
To those of you who’ve seen it: Would it be worth my while to bug Scarecrow Video about stocking the region 2 discs?