User Reviews (5)

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  • "Tatort" (= Crime Scene) is one of the most popular detective series on German TV. Feature length (90 min) episodes air on roughly 30 Sundays of the year - following the evening news at 8:15 p.m.

    The public network ARD that shows "Tatort" is organized federally, i.e. it consists of a dozen regional TV stations. Each regional station have their own police team depicted in their region. So, there is a Berlin team, a Hamburg team, and so on - each have their own episodes under the common label. Larger regional stations like WDR (Cologne) add 3 or 4 episodes each year, smaller ones like tiny Radio Bremen just 1.

    The style and setting vary with the teams - that is part of the fun of the series. Episodes from Frankfurt have been rather vanguard in terms of cinematography and storytelling, while the Münster team is famed for their witty dialogues and comic effects.

    The regional differences also lead to a competition for audiences and public attention. Viewers tend to choose what team episodes to watch - with consequences for audience ratings and public discussions about the poor scripts or the cheap productions that the Tatorte from some stations have been suffering recently.

    The feature length and the producers' ambitions to show not only entertaining crime stories but also to present social issues like child abuse, integration of immigrants, or school violence lead to high public awareness for "Tatort". Episodes are regularly reviewed in quality newspapers like Frankfurter Allgemeine or Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  • There's not a single comment (so far) for 'Tatort'? That's really hard to believe, since it's a very long running and popular series here in Germany. I have seen some episodes, but not enough to consider myself an expert on the series. If you are an expert, please go ahead and add another comment.

    Normally I always include a rating for the titles I comment on, but I think it would be unfair to do so in this case. I don't think I have seen any of the episodes from the 70s except for 'Reifezeugnis', and I haven't seen many of those of later years. I don't consider myself an avid fan of the series.

    So what can I tell you about 'Tatort' ('crime scene')? The basic idea is interesting. There are about 35 episodes per year (at least nowadays). But you don't get to see the same team of detectives in every episode. There are different teams from different parts of Germany; that's what makes it interesting. (Some episodes even feature teams from other countries, namely Austria and Switzerland.)

    But I think that, at least nowadays, too many episodes suffer from bad scripts. Often the cases are too confusing because they cram too much into the 90 minutes running time. If you are interested in examples, go to the user comments page for the episode 'Das Böse'. I have written a comment on it. There's also a somewhat similar comment for 'Der Kormorankrieg', titled 'Execrable' and written by a user called 'moabitnik'. (Please keep in mind that user comments are subject to change and deletion. Though it's unlikely, a comment might be different or gone tomorrow. I only refer to other comments because I think it would be redundant to repeat information that can be read elsewhere.) And I think that in many scripts there's too much 'political correctness', for example there are too many iffy 'power women' among the detectives.

    Some more information that might be of interest:

    Some episodes were only shown in Austria. They are listed as a spin-off on the 'movie connections' page for 'Tatort'.

    'Reifezeugnis' is perhaps the most famous episode. It was directed by Wolfgang Petersen of 'Das Boot' fame and stars a young Nastassja Kinski.

    I guess Schimanski, played by Götz George, is the most popular 'Tatort'-detective. He got a spin-off series and two theatrical movies were made with him.

    The German experimental rock band Tangerine Dream wrote the title track for 'Das Mädchen auf der Treppe' and scored a hit with it in Germany.

    Some episodes are no longer shown as reruns because their content is deemed too controversial. Some episodes have been edited after their original airing, for example because of unwanted product placement.

    Every German who has a TV set is required by law to pay fees for the station that produces 'Tatort'. Believe it or not, you have to pay for it even if you don't watch it. So the makers don't have to try hard to get funding for the next episodes. I guess the quality of the series might improve if they had to try harder.

    Based on the episodes I have seen in the last few years, I would give 'Tatort' a rating of four points out of ten. But, as I have mentioned above, I might be wrong, since I haven't watched many of the episodes, so I won't rate it.

    Edit / addition (27th August 2008): In the last months, I have seen some reruns of old episodes from the 70s and 80s, and some new episodes. There were a lot of good episodes among both of these, so I would now give the series a rating of six points out of ten, because I now guess that the ratio of bad episodes is lower than I had thought before.
  • pensman13 February 2018
    Currently there are three seasons running on MHz identified as Tatort: Cologne (crime scene, Cologne) going from 1998 to 2007 that feature Inspectors Max Ballauf and Freddy Schenk (actors Klaus Behrendt and Dietmar Bar). The two actors work well together and it's interesting to see them adapt to new technology and changes in police procedure. Those changes aren't part of the stories but just note how quickly things change.

    At times Max and Freddie's personal issues can surface in an episode to add to building of their characters, and at times as crucial story points. Max has even been known to sleep with a suspect. Several episodes deal with social problems and the stories can be very gritty and the conclusions quite depressing.

    At times both my wife and I yell at the screen when obviously bad conclusions are reached by the inspectors but you do have to fill about 90 minutes per episode. At times the episodes seem more about commenting on social issues rather than being solid mystery stories. In spite of some of these commentaries, the two forge ahead but they seem to get to finding the perp more by dumb luck than solid detective work. But they do doggedly pursue their quarry and usually catch the suspect.

    Like any series, there are good episodes and disappointing ones but Max and Freddy are worth a look.
  • Mhzfan29 January 2018
    Having said this is a great show, I also have to say that I've only seen episodes from the one set in Cologne (and its crossover episodes with Leipzig) and a couple of episodes from Hamburg. Mhz is the only channel that shows Tatort in my area, and they have only shown the detectives from these cities. Mhz had a long break in airing them but as of 2017 they are re-showing the Cologne episodes, and it's been great to see Freddy and Max again. I think Mhz has a pay site for viewing them on the web, and I did notice that Youtube has a lot of them (from many more regions), but the ones I've checked aren't captioned. I don't know German, so Youtube hasn't been helpful to me.

    The other reviews cover the general idea of Tatort, and I can't add anymore to them except to say that the Cologne episodes are consistently good. I also liked the two I saw with Mehmet Kurtulus (Hamburg). They had quite a different feel to them, and I hope the station will show more of them; the two I saw made me want to see the others. As mentioned above, Tatort often deals with social issues, and it's interesting to see how Germany addresses them. In a less serious vein, regional cultural differences sometimes appear in the dialogue (and presumably the accents). For instance, people in Cologne seem to have some antipathy toward Westphalians, though I don't know why. Naturally, it's also fun for Americans to hear Max occasionally speak English or to see or hear popular cultural references familiar to people in the U.S. Of course, the main emphasis is solving homicides, and if you enjoy detective shows, I do recommend that you give this show a try.
  • Working my way through the Cologne series after watching the Kiel series on MHz. I especially like these series due to the pacing and stories. Moreover, I get a tour of different parts of Germany. If subtitles are not a drawback then I recommend Tatort. I kind of hope that MHz will show the really early ones from the 70s and 80s