Tatort No. 800: The Foul-Mouthed MILF and the Man With No Friends Investigate

So, last Sunday's Tatort was number 800, and introduced a new pair of investigators for Frankfurt, Connie Mey (Nina Kunzendorf) and Frank Steier (Joachim Król, not to be confused with Joachim Kroll).I'm not that up on Tatort, but I think these are completely new characters.

Overall, I thought it was quite a fine little episode. The female character, Connie Mey, is apparently mean to be an spry, earthy MILF who worked her way up from the lower echelons of the police service to become a detective. She parades around police headquarters in push-up bras and tight jeans, looking like a train station topsy, and demonstratively eats lunch 'with the guys'. I'm sure she has an quaint working-class regional accent of some sort, but I couldn't place it.*

Steier, on the other hand, is apparently mean to embody a certain sort of über-civil servant, living in the darkland of a brutally truncated, barely-human existence. He never talks about his private life, apparently has no friends or relatives, and always remains coolly formal when on duty — unless he experiences an access of rage, which seems to be the only emotion he can feel. At night, he lurks around in his darkened office listening to jazz, apparently occasionally taking a nip from a flask. I have the feeling we are going to find out that his glaring social deficits were the result of a ghastly personal tragedy: He's the wreck he is because one day in 2005 his beautiful young wife and their freckled children exploded, perhaps, or were eaten. What I will secretly hope for is a more original explanation: he's just a born German civil servant, who has obediently pruned away every aspect of his personality (charm, humor, wit, lust, curiosity, etc.) that doesn't directly relate to fulfilling his duties.

This contrasting pair meet randomly, when a very odd man who talks to himself wanders into the Frankfurt main police station at night, wanting to report the 'murder' of his brain-damaged son, who is dying. The man has what seems to be an outlandish story of his son being 'murdered' by a staged traffic accident whose true nature is covered up by a cop in return for some kind of sexual blackmail. Mey, who is working late to finish a report, doesn't want to deal with this unstable guy alone, so she seeks out any other colleague, in this case Steier, who is lurking in his office for some unspecified reason. The crazy guy claims to know precisely who killed his son — a young female postal carrier. He has been stalking her, and getting more and more violent. He wants her arrested for murder, and threatens to take the law into his own hands if she isn't.

It turns out that the weird stalker's story is not completely invented, and the plot revolves around figuring out why he's so angry at the postal carrier and whether he might make good on any of this threats, which in turn means figuring out how much truth there is to his account. The atmosphere of this Tatort was gloomy: the background was the impersonal grid of Frankfurt's anonymous new suburbs, and there was little music. The crazy guy was complex: filled with irrational hatred, but also with some legitimate complaints, yet with a nasty mean, cunning streak. It's wasn't edge-of-your seat entertainment — Tatort rarely is — but it held my interest, and was much less didactic than your average Tatort. In particular, the writer resisted the urge to make the unbalanced character a blameless victim of society.

I found it pretty amusing how foul-mouthed this show was. In a moment of frustration, Mey screams 'Fuck!' (yes, the English word, used exactly as an English speaker would use it), and the crazy guy uses the German work 'fickt' for good measure, and even squeezes off a 'terrible cunt' (beschissene Fotze)** at one point. I hope no children are watching, or they might grow up swearing like Anglo-Saxons!

* Maybe she's from Preungesheim, and her accent is the infamous Preungesheimer Plärre. Sorry, I just like saying the word Preungesheim. I even like typing it!

** Sure, it's not a precise translation, but since 'terrible cunt' has been etched into the collective consciousness by Withnail and I, I thought it made sense.

11 thoughts on “Tatort No. 800: The Foul-Mouthed MILF and the Man With No Friends Investigate

  1. This looks like an attempt to reinvent the good old “Schimanski”; but since this is 2011 the minimum quota of female protagonists has to be fulfilled too, so they put in the MILF.

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  2. About Steiger: I percieved him as a cynic and misanthrope. I did not percieve any personal anger or hidden emotions of fear or mourning.

    I think he got frustratad about THE SYSTEM and the evilness of the people. While expressing this to loudly, nobody listening and things not geting better he isolated himself more and more from other human beeings.

    Maybe (or just because of this) his wife left him but I do not expect anything more seriuos.

    I found a character like this very refreshing and hope that Mey doesn’t soften him up to much.

    Let’s see what happens.

    BTW. I didn’t see any relation to Schimanski, who was a completely different nut case.

    Martin

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  3. I think your translation of “beschissene Fotze” is good, but I would have used “stupid twat” I have no context of the scene in which he used it. That can make a difference. BTW I’m not hung up on the word in particular, but I have always been interested in the nuance of swearing and vulgarity in language.

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  4. I agree with Martin – cynic and misanthrope. Probably married earlier in life, a while ago, but hasn’t been in a relationship for quite a while… : )

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  5. Both were way overdone as you describe, but I liked the misanthropic Król character, not very found of Kunzendorf in this role. She doesn’t have a Frankfurt accent, only a very slight general southern German lilt.

    (spoiler ahead)

    Kunzendorf received the Grimme award in 2006 for a rather dark and controversial “Polizeiruf 110” (Munich team with the great Edgar Selge) “Der scharlachrote Engel” (“The scarlet angel”, it’s better than its title).
    Kunzendorf played a rape victim who happened to earn her rent with lascivious posing for a webcam. (And she is still quite hot, even they made her looking somewhat cheap in that Tatort now.)

    Unless I missed it, the weirdness of the weird guy is not really explained, except that it was probably connected to the death of his wife. It is also hinted that the son who gets run over, had intended to commit suicide on that bridge anyway.

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  6. Pity you can’t spell Preungesheim correctly, seeing you enjoy typing it. It was a good, different Tatort style and while they may not make a dream pair they will surely get around to a candlelight dinner in a couple of episodes from now. BTW (how I hate these acronyms) they are a nice contrast to that Bremen pair, or that ludicrous Kiel duo of a traumatised commisar and his psychologist beloved.

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  7. While I have no idea what Preungesheimer Plärre may sound like, I did not realize Nina using any distinctable german dialect in the feature. She rather used – Tatort-typical – plain Hochdeutsch.

    As she is from Mannheim where there’s a completely different dialect used as in Frankfurt where the feature is located, it might also be difficult for her to imitate a local dialect authentically. That’s why in most (modern, it was quite different in the 1970ies ones) Tatort-Features local dialects are only used by locally casted extras while the main characters usually use Hochdeutsch, although Joachim Król can’t effectively deny his clearly “Ruhrpott-coloured” tongue.

    Even the famous character of Kommissar Schimanski, although he was thought to be the proto-Ruhrpottguy, did not use a proper local dialect, because the actor is from Berlin. He didn’t even ever make it to pronounce the name of the featured city, Duisburg, the way a local would. He always said ‘Düüsburrk’, which is pretty much correct Hochdeutsch, while a local there (like I am one) much rather would say something like ‘Düssbuich’, making him appear like a stranger somehow, athough we obviously learned to love him anyway.

    So even if the language used is raw, don’t expect too much of dialects in Tatort.

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  8. @Geoff Roberts: Pity I can’t spell ‘Preungesheim’ correctly? You might wish to compare your suggested spelling of Preungesheim with my spelling in the post. You’ll notice they’re eerily similar!

    So either we’re both misspelling Preungesheim, or you’re picking an invisible nit!

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  9. Until a few years ago there were still about a handful of Tatort teams and settings that used local dialects/accents etc. With Ehrlicher (Leipzig/Dresden) and Bienzle (Stuttgart) in retirement and replaced by younger teams without local roots, the only remaining ones are Saarbrücken (with “Stefan” who used to play the son of comedian Heinz Becker whose sketches always used the regional accent) and to a somewhat lesser extent (because sidekick Carlo Menziger inherited a fortune and left) Munich. Ludwigshafen (Odenthal/Kopper) still have two sidekicks with pronounced local accents, the secretary and especially the bald forensic technical expert.

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