Walk into just about any bar in Berlin on a Sunday night and you’ll find the drinkers sitting in abject silence, attention rapt to the TV in the corner.  They’re watching Tatort – everybody’s favorite German crime drama.  Not just Berliners are crazy about this show, mind you; any bar in any German-speaking country will give you largely the same result.  They’re paying attention to the clues, hoping to solve the mystery before the trained crime scene investigators can.

Tatort, German for crime scene, has been around since 1970, at a time when internet media hadn’t yet exposed the masses to locations outside their preferred travel destinations.  Tatort has no set location, so its initial attraction was that it offered people from all over the Germanic area the opportunity to hear various regional dialects.  Imagine if all the different CSIs- Miami, New York, Las Vegas- were bunched together into one show, but the teams never interacted with each other.

Nowadays Austria, Switzerland, and Germany take turns hosting their own Tatort crews and coming up with location-driven murder scenarios.

Such cultural unification has earned Tatort fierce loyalty and respect.  Between 8 and 9 PM Sunday night, if you want to go out for a beer and chat with your friends you’ll have to buy it at aSpätkauf and drink at home- talk during the show and you’re liable to end up a Tatort yourself.

It comes on ARD on Sundays at 20:15.

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