Monday, September 4, 2017

Comrade Detective - Tovarășul Milițian: the Funniest Thing I have Watched in Years

As Amazon Prime members, we have relished the original programming available there. We came home from our annual month in Romania to find that a show set there had just recently been released.

First off, you must watch Comrade Detective. It is, hands down, the most hilarious experience I have had for a long time. But it is also very important that you understand what the show is in order to truly appreciate the humor intended.

Comrade Detective (in Romanian Tovarășul Milițian) is a parody of US "Buddy Cop" shows and movies, set in Communist Romania and equally serving as a parody of Cold War-era propaganda shows produced within the Soviet Bloc during that time period. 

The premise is that this was a real show that was rescued and restored by the "Romanian Film Preservation Society" and Channing Tatum, playing himself, worked to have it dubbed in English as a labor of love to give the show the wider audience it deserves.

The level of production is extraordinary. The entire show was filmed in Romania, using Romanian actors delivering their lines in Romanian, then dubbed over in American English by such well known stars as Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Chloë Sevigny. The Romanian actors featured in the show include well-known talent, such as Florin Piersici, Jr. It is superbly directed by Rhys Thomas.

My wife is a Romanian-American who lived there in the time the show is set (1983). This show is so well made that, even though I had described the concept to her before we began watching, she asked me to explain again what this was all about, because she was convinced this really could have been a show that aired on Romanian television during the Cold War.

The show is funny all in its own right, but scattered throughout were jokes that were outrageously funny to anyone who knows Romanian culture. This is a testament of the attention to detail that writers and creators Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka employed in creating this experience.

I was in high school at the time the show is set, and I know that media here also produced "entertainment" such as the movie Red Dawn and Rocky IV (both excellent movies, I'm not denying) which certainly additionally contained an element of propaganda. And, as satire goes, Comrade Detective is fair and as equally biting to America then and now as it is to the Communist world.

I have not had enough of Comrade Detective. I need more and I intend to lobby the powers that be at Amazon to please both approve a second season and thus convince the writers, creators, actors that made Tovarășul Milițian to give me the extreme pleasure of riding along once again as Gregor Anghel and Iosif Baciu solve another tough case in 1980's Bucharest, and treating me once again to not only abundant laughs but also thoughtful commentary on both societies through this unique satirical show.

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