Sunday evening, 8.15 p.m. Millions of viewers watch the new “crime scene”. The absolute cult series of German-speaking television celebrates its 50th birthday this Sunday. The show is one of the longest-running television series for us.
The Austrian investigator duo also has reason to celebrate and the number 50 is also of central importance here: In the crime thriller “Conspiracy”, which is expected to premiere on ORF in 2021, Harald Krassnitzer is working as Moritz Eisner for the 50th time. Adele Neuhauser, who first appeared in front of the camera as Bibi Fellner in 2010, is celebrating her ten-year anniversary.
More than 1100 cases
The first “Tatort” episode “Taxi to Leipzig” was broadcast on German television on November 29, 1970 with Walter Richter as Commissioner Trimmel. More than 1100 cases have been shown since then. The ORF has also been broadcasting the “Tatort” thriller almost from the very beginning. The ORF’s own productions also have a tradition: there have been domestic commissioners since 1971. Fritz Eckhardt is legendary as Chief Inspector Marek, who was in front of the camera for 14 episodes in the 1970s.
After many other investigators, the former “Bergdoktor” Krassnitzer took over the Austro offshoot in 1999. “Never again opera” was the title of the 31st ORF “Tatort”, in which Krassnitzer made his investigative debut as Chief Inspector Eisner. While he initially intended to say goodbye after only a few episodes, he has long since overtaken his former colleagues in terms of the number of cases.
“The most important thing is not to stand still, but to always get a fresh look at your own character,” said the actor, who turns an episode on average twice a year. In his 24th case of March 6, 2011, “Retaliation”, Eisner first worked with Bibi Fellner. As for the German broadcasters, the weekly series broadcast on Sunday is also a reliable source of ratings for ORF: In 2019, the 33 “Tatort” –
Follows on ORF (first broadcasts only) an average of 680,000 viewers a year.
Honor double thriller
The 50th birthday of the popular television series will now be celebrated on Sunday with a double thriller in which the teams from Munich and Dortmund will investigate together. The “In der Familie” films are about a Dortmund pizzeria owner and possible Mafia involvement.
While investigators Peter Faber (Jörg Hartmann), Martina Bönisch (Anna Schudt), Nora Dalay (Aylin Tezel) and Jan Pawlak (Rick Okon) observe the restaurant, their Munich colleagues Ivo Batic (Miroslav Nemec) and Franz Leitmayr (Udo Wachtveitl) travel ) in Westphalia to catch a suspected murderer in hiding.
The two-parter will be shown on Sunday and December 6th (8.15 p.m., ORF 2).
Soul mirror of the nation
22 teams from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are currently considered active within the series. The TV films are a reflection of the German-speaking area – a mirror of the soul and a seismograph of society. The inventor Gunther Witte from Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), who died in 2018, also determined this early in the development phase of the format. Issues such as racism, violence against the homeless, drugs, bribery, sex tourism and terrorism were introduced one by one.
In the 1970s, the “crime scenes” were mostly quite conservative. The break started in 1981: In Duisburg, with Commissioner Horst Schimanski (Götz George), the full life with women’s stories and everyday language (“Shit!”) Arrived. In the past 20 years the trend towards provincialization has increased. It was no longer just about crime fiction from big cities. The slapstick thrillers from the tranquil Münster with Axel Prahl and Jan Josef Liefers are by far the most popular “crime scenes” today.
Experts see the reason for the longevity of the series precisely in the fact that there is no such thing as one “crime scene”. “Some ‘Tatort’ locations have excellent scriptwriters, some also allow experiments,” says cultural anthropologist Regina Bendix from the University of Göttingen.
It’s all about variety
Germanist Stefan Scherer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, believes that especially for younger, Netflix-proven generations, something must be included that is oriented towards the cinema.
The Wiesbaden episodes around Ulrich Tukur or the popular Weimar team around Christian Ulmen and Nora Tschirner are examples. Grandparents may be too quick to do it, they need something more intimate. “But I think the format is indestructible.”