Saturday, January 26, 2019


Since 1970 and nearly every Sunday night since, a show called Tatort* (crime scene) has been running on German television during primetime and is still popular. Sometimes more than 10 million viewers nationwide follow the episodes, in which various teams investigate murder cases in various German cities as well as in cities in Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.
*When I lived in Geneva watching French-speaking Swiss television, a lady once announced the evening program of the German-speaking program in presenting the series as, "T'as (Tu as) tord", meaning "You are wrong."

Red Baron has given up wasting his time watching Tatort except for episodes featuring two teams that investigate in Mannheim or Münster, i.e., six evenings in a year. Here my interest is solely aimed at the actors. In Mannheim, an initially demure investigator has developed over 19 years into a skinny middle-aged lady. In Münster, a detective superintendent and a forensic doctor form a permanently quarreling couple à la Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

In the spring of 2018, German television shot the Tatort episode #1075 titled Damian in Freiburg, and some of the scenes were set in the fraternity house of Burschenschaft Franconia* just across the street from my apartment. For two weeks the film crew turned night into day. As fraternity students helping as extras told us: Some of the scenes were shot twenty times, so that in one case filming of a day scene only finished at 4 a.m. Daylight in the interior was guaranteed by brightly illuminating the front of the Franconia fraternity house.
*The other fraternity, Teutonia, lives in the house beside my apartment. Red Baron has reported about this Burschenschaft on two occasions.

Street in front of the Franconia house during the day
Same at night
Your broadcasting license fee for a good program.
In Germany, all households pay a compulsory monthly fee for
the reception of two public service television channels, ARD and ZDF.
Both programs are nearly free of commercials.
So Damian is watched without any interruption.
The light pollution affected the whole neighborhood, so it was to be expected that last week Franconia invited those concerned to an evening of television presenting Damian on a big screen.

On-screen: Damian dancing with his girlfriend.
In the other room Franconia's bar.
An eerie dinner scene. Damian, sitting at the head of the table,
 is serving wine to his girlfriend on his left.
We started with an aperitif followed by a guided tour of the premises where scenes were filmed and ended with beer and potato chips during the presentation of the Tatort. With great astonishment, we noted that the film crew had remodeled the interior of the house completely to match the new plaque at the entrance of the fictitious Landsmannschaft Brankia. All photos are screenshots that I took during the introduction of Damian at the Franconia house.

New Landsmannschaft Brancia ...
... and its colors.
Tatort Damian has all the odd ingredients of a modern crime movie: The schizophrenic law student and main character Damian, an overworked detective superintendent and her always-tired male assistant, a somewhat older tennis trainer and his teenage trainee being shot while in the act, a transvestite as prime suspect shooting selfies while wearing female underwear, Damian's father shattered because his son had refused to take over his inn located in the Black Forest, a devoted mother making the best cake far and wide, Damian's rich girlfriend hoping for more than just a couple of actions in bed, and a charred body in the remains of a Black Forest cabin.

It was an evening well spent in a hospitable company.

The film crew left a souvenir:
"The banner is Brankia"

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