Right now, German TV is experiencing something of an international upsurge in reputation. Whether it’s Dark on Netflix, You Are Wanted and 4 Blocks on Amazon, Babylon Berlin on Sky Atlantic, or Deutschland 83 on Channel 4, suddenly to the outside world Germany appears to have a TV industry. How did that happen?
Of course, it hasn’t appeared out of nowhere. Even here in the UK, which hasn’t exactly been a great importer of continental European TV until relatively recently, we had the likes of Heimat, Gambit, The Black Forest Clinic, and Heidi in the 80s, for example. But that just grazes the surface.
So after the jump, let’s have a look at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of what we’ve been missing out on…
In particular, Germany has been quite big with action TV formats, some of them very long running. Alarm für Cobra 11 – die Autobahnpolizei is the most obvious, having aired in 120 countries since it first started in 1996, clocking up 317 episodes over 22 seasons.
Similarly, Der Puma: Kämpfer mit Hertz has been running since 1999, its original TV movie pilot having been directed by no less a person than Donnie Yen, who arranged some breakdance fighting for it:
But the list is long and extensive, with plenty of short-lived shows we’ve missed out on. In 2008, GSG9, Germany’s almost as famous equivalent to the US’s SWAT, got their own punningly titled, two season-long series, GSG9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben, for example:
Then there’s HeliCops: Einsatz über Berlin, a somewhat odd Airwolf/Blue Thunder knock-off that ran for three seasons from 1998:
Despite the stereotypes, there are plenty of German comedies we’ve missed, some of them remakes, but plenty of originals, too. Der letzte Bulle reverses Life on Mars to have a cop from the 80s wake up from a coma in modern times and start working in Essen:
Danni Lowinski saw Annette Frier give out legal advice in a mall for €1 a minute.
And then there was the multi-cultural Was guckst du?, about a Turkish bouncer called Hakan and several other characters.
Of course, we’ve now woken up to the existence of German TV. Walter’s curated service is giving us the likes of Inspector Borowski, Cenk Batu, Hotel Adlon, and Nick’s Law. All the same, while that’s a good start, that’s not really the full scale of current German TV output.
The Krimi is still big, thanks to the likes of Tatort, which started in 1970 and has now aired more than 1,000 episodes. Uniquely federal, the show is actually made by various regional TV stations all producing their own episodes about local homicide detectives, which are then pooled together to create a pan-German season. Indeed, Cenk Batu and Nick’s Law are actually part of Tatort.
Ditto Polizeiruf 110, which started in 1971 on East German TV as a more educational counterpart to Tatort and is still going strong post-unification.
But there are many others we’re missing, including cowboy shows.
All of which is really just a plaintiff cry to Sky to carry some German TV channels and to Walter to maybe be a bit less picky. Come on guys!