So, we’re in that shoulder season between Winter and Spring where the days are getting longer, but not much warmer. It’s all very confusing. However, here are two TV shows to get you through the next few weeks.

Deutschland ‘83

After a barnstorming run in its native Germany, this Cold War thriller has reached Britain. Under Channel 4’s ‘Walter Presents’, a new headline initiative to welcome in the best international television dramas,Deutschland ‘83 sees East German border guard Martin (Jonas Nay) sent undercover to West Germany to spy on the movement of missiles in a time of increasing geopolitical tension.

What sets the series apart however is its tone and playfulness. It is a serious drama, but it refreshingly lacks the burdensome mock-portentious pondering of recent TV heavyweights (True Detective, Luther, Jessica Jones).

For example, if tasked with planting a bug, the show doesn’t spend twenty minutes debating how and whether to plant the bug, but instead does it and moves onto the next thing. As a result, the show moves at a deft fast pace, anchored by the enthralling Jonas Nay, whose performance is a perfect blend of innocence, suspicion, and ruthlessness.

Throw into the mix a perfect playlist of 80’s pop hits (Bowie, the Eurythmics, Madonna, and of course Nena’s ‘99 Luftballons’) and you have a show that neither takes itself too seriously, nor waits around long enough to ask any questions. Plus, it opens with the fantastically Euro-pop German track ‘Major Tom (Coming Home)’ by Peter Schilling, which is as brilliant as it is silly. A bit like the show.

Deutschland ‘83 continues on Channel 4, Sundays at 9pm, and is available to catch-up on All 4.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Despite being a few months behind the USA, season 3 of the police sitcom contiues to delight on E4.

After the recent conclusion of some stalwart American workplace comedies with the likes of The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine emerged in 2013 as an unlikely replacement. Ostensibly a police comedy, the show is actually as much an office comedy as, well, The Office.

The key is the cast’s excellent comic skills and razor-sharp rapport. Jake Peralta’s (Andy Samberg) charming affability is balanced by Boyle’s (Joe Lo Truglio) excitable but pure-hearted goodness, which is countered by Diaz’s (Stephanie Beatriz) harshness, and that  with Santiago’s (Melissa Fumero) try-hard attiude. The true points however go to to Captain Holt (Andre Braugher), who is simply a dead-pan genius, extracting an unlimited succession of laughs from the smallest and subtlest of expressions.

In addition, the breeziness of each  twenty minute episode makes it perfect binge-watching material and is bolstered by guest appearances from US comedy staples, such as Bill Hader and Craig Robinson.

In a time of Ferguson and increasing unease about the police’s relationship with the public, Brooklyn Nine-Nine manages to admirably still make the police a subject of fun and humour. Hopefully they’ll continue to do so for many seasons to come.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 3 continues on E4 , Thursdays at 9pm. 

George Pundek

Categories: Arts Theatre

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