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Comrade Detective

last updated: 14 November 2017 (approximate reading time: 2 minutes; 285 words)

I’ve been watching Comrade Detective.

It’s fun…at least the idea is amusing, but I’m not sure it quite sustains over the full series (six episodes).

The central conceit is that this is a Romanian TV series made in the 1980s as a piece of Communist propaganda. With the end of Communism the series was lost, but this jewel of the genre has now been discovered and dusted down for public consumption.

In truth, this was filmed in 2017 as a period piece.

It was filmed in Romania with Romanian actors speaking Romanian. But subsequently the dialog was dubbed into English by “Hollywood” actors (including Kim Basinger, Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Chloë Sevigny).

The story is—as would be expected for a 1980s piece—a typical cop set-up. A policeman is murdered and his partner tracks down the killer aided by the dead man’s childhood best friend.

The first episodes are good, but as the series continues, the joke wears a bit thin and some of the storyline choices run out of steam leading to the plot falling flat.

The satire works. The self-reflection is biting. But the knowingness doesn’t work and the an attempt to position this as a lost masterpiece (Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson talking to camera) is trite, cringeworthy, and undermines the show.

In many ways the star is the Dacia 1300, the Romanian people’s car based on the Renault 12. I lost count of how many Dacias we saw—any and every scene with a car featured multiple Dacias.

If you’re of a mood, do watch Comrade Detective, skip through the earnest talking heads and if the story line starts to drag, then that’s probably the time to stop watching. 

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