23 August 2010 | semiotechlab-658-95444
Derrick, the salon-detective
It is a well-known fact that police-investigators, in movies, never have to use the restroom. However, if one compares the episodes of the last then years of "Tatort" with the first ones, almost forty years ago, the newer films have become closer to real life. Nevertheless, Oberinspektor (Superintendent) Stephan Derrick (whose name was only broadcast after a winner in Wim Thoelke's famous Quiz did not know it and lost the most gigantic sum of money anybody ever had gathered by steadily correct guessing)is free from any "virtual" attitudes that would prove him to be a member of humankind. He is pure functionality: His hair is always oiled perfectly, he always wears the same coat, his glasses never change, even certain of his sentences have become stereotypical (and often quoted). Derrick does not have the aura of the fatherly Marek, nor the brilliance of the university professor and pathologist Von Boerne, but he is also neither the ruffian Schimansky nor his colleague, the persnickety Thanner. Unlike Veigl or his early Bavarian colleague Wanninger, he is not the type people thrust, so sneaking into a restaurant and pricking up his ears, that is not him. He looks what he is, and that makes things clear, but not always easy. Derrick is not a moralist either, and this renders him finally sympathetic. When we see him clothed tastefully and expensively going to theater, in company of a flagship-lady like Johanna Von Koczian, we start to doubt how much Derrick would understand of crimes committed out of need. Derrick is a chess-player who has a whole scenario in his mind before he indubitably torments a suspect until this one admits that he is the murderer whom Derrick had assumed already long before his assistant or his superintendent even had a ghost of an idea. So, best we can consider Derrick a salon-detective, and it is not by mere chance that most of the hundreds of episodes are settled in the "better society" of industrials, academics, doctors, large landowners, but seldomly in what is called in German the "milieu". However, when this should happen, the neat Derrick appears as dislocated as the grubby Colombo is when entering one of the splendid Californian villas.