I have always loved TV. My British childhood was framed by Thursdays with Petticoat Junction
Fridays with The Avengers
And who could forget The Man from Uncle?
Even then I had crushes on anybody who spoke with a foreign accent and so of course was in love with Ilya Kuryakin (even though he was actually Scottish, David McCallum).
I think we can say I was not a critical viewer.
Moving to Germany was a bit of a shock as a) I couldn’t understand enough German to understand the plot of anything and b) I couldn’t deal with the programmes. There seemed to be a lot of political talk shows, interspersed with comedies I couldn’t find funny and shows involving ‘Volksmusik’, where rows of people sat on benches drinking beer while people in dirndls sang songs. I was indeed far from home, and visits to the UK mostly consisted of videoing everything possible to watch when we got back to Germany. For some years, thanks to a giant antenna, we were able to watch BFBS programming. My poor children, when not being forced to eat burnt fishfingers, watched British children’s programmes and must have thought that life in the UK was unfocussed, snowy and interspersed with wavy lines.
Anyway, I then moved in with my German husband, and he brought along a small black and white TV, which he watched in the evenings. It seemed that for Germans, the highlights of the week were a programme on Saturdays called ‘Wetten, dass’ or a police procedural on Sunday evenings, after the main news, called ‘Tatort’.
The former show often had celebrity guests from the US, which could theoretically have been interesting apart from the simultaneous translation into German which overlaid what they were saying in English. This always meant I couldn’t understand either. That programme came to a very sad end some years ago.
“Tatort”, on the other hand, still graces our screens most Sunday evenings and in the interests of intercultural understanding I tried to watch. Honestly.
The introduction hasn’t changed for a trillion years.
The word ‘Tatort’ means the scene of the crime, and this series is filmed in various cities in Germany (and further afield), with recurring detectives. So people might enjoy ‘Tatort München’ but not ‘Tatort Ludwigshafen.’ I didn’t enjoy any of them, and this has been horribly embarrassing because everybody else in Germany watches, and loves Tatort. I can’t deal with the portrayal of how life is: the way people speak to, and deal with each other within families and teams. It’s often full of smart-aleck, unscrupulous detectives who trample over crime scenes, drive dangerously and have messy private lives. There’s not much kindness, or, well, fun.
Having loved The Avengers it’s a bit much for me to complain about lack of realism, but there was one Tatort quite recently where a detective ended up handcuffed (key lost) to a woman who wanted to drown herself and they were caught up to their waists in the North Sea tide. Cut to next day, where he is sitting on the beach and she is lying – dead and un-handcuffed – next to him. Hello? What happened?
Anyway, we read last week that our local city, Bremen, would be presenting a new team of detectives on Sunday:
And so I decided to watch: in the meantime the language isn’t a problem anymore (although I do need the volume higher in German than in English, how interesting) and it is fun to try and spot well-known sights or maybe even see my sporty husband pedalling by on his bicycle in the distance.
Reader, I quite liked it. That’s it: 16 years after I got my dual citizenship, I am truly integrated. I watched – nay, enjoyed – Tatort.