The Danube’s Dumbest Detectives

I learned an important thing from yesterday's Tatort: the city of Vienna recruits its police by grabbing up a random group of high-school dropouts, providing them no training whatsoever, promising them a lifetime job with no accountability, giving them weapons and badges and uniforms, then shoving them out the door.

How else can you explain the mind-breaking incompetence displayed by last night's Tatort detectives? Here's how the episode starts: A former member of a bloodthirsty Serbian-nationalist paramilitary unit deserts and goes underground in Vienna. Years later, his former comrades discover his new identity, and send a team out to kill him. (They think he might spill the beans about the group's atrocities). The Serb deserter drives a van for a local cleaning company, and is supposed to be picking up a cleaning crew at a local mall. The killers shoot the van driver. They realize too late that they killed the wrong person — the Serb called in sick, and a 23-year-old student was sent as his replacement.

The Vienna Tatort investigators, Moritz Eisner and Bibi Fellner, show up the next morning. A cleaning woman saw the entire crime. Do they conduct a formal debriefing and create sketches of the two killers? No, they extract a few generalities from the woman and let her go. Then they find out that the victim of the crime was a last-minute replacement for the regular driver, which obviously might mean that the regular driver was the intended victim of this carefully-planned attack.

So do they rush to the intended victim's apartment, radioing ahead for assistance?

No, they don't. They don't even call the potential victim to tell him of the mortal danger he is in. Instead, caring shiksa-yenta Bibi takes Moritz, who's sick with the flu, to her favorite cafe to force some sort of disgusting garlic-based home remedy on him. While they are thus sitting around with their thumbs up their arses, bantering about flu remedies, the killers in fact do go to the van driver's apartment and almost nail him.

But we are just at the beginning a barrage of idiocy. The van driver and his family are put into a heavily-guarded safe house. The Serbians find out where the house is, raid it, and murder 10 cops. Two of the Serbians escape in a black car. They are stopped at a traffic checkpoint. A female cop begins asking them questions, and just as she does, her male partner yells across to her that an all-points-bulletin has just been put out for two men. She realizes the two men fit the description. But, since the other cop yelled it out to her, so do the two men themselves. One of them shoots the female cop and they both drive away. The male cop fires a few ineffectual shots at the departing car, and then complains remorsefully that he got his partner killed. Arriving on the scene, the two Tatort detectives reassure the despondent traffic cop that's not true. But they're wrong — he did, of course, just get his partner killed, by stupidly sharing extremely sensitive information with potential suspects. Presumably the clueless Tatort detectives are reassuring him because they would have made the same bone-headed move themselves.

A little while later, Bibi and Moritz, these two Kakanian Clouseaus, find out that the mastermind of the massacre at the safe house frequents a local Serbian hangout called Maxi. For some unknowable reason, the Serbian assassin visits this place shortly after the crime even though he knows it's on the police's radar screen, since they visited once before to search for suspects when he was there. (The only thing that rescues the cops is the equal stupidity of the suspects). Bibi and Moritz stake out the cafe, alone, and see the man go in.

Keep in mind that this man (1) has access to advanced weapons; (2) is a trained military assassin with hundreds of murders under his belt; (3) is entering a cafe filled with well-armed comrades and fellow travelers; and (4) has just committed the bloodiest massacre of Austrian law enforcement officers since 1945. Despite all this, the two Tatort chuckleheads decide to rush in after him by themselves, armed only with handguns! No reinforcements, no securing the perimeter, no surveillance, nothing! Are there are no other cops in Vienna? (Perhaps they were all killed at the safe house). The two detectives barge in, and ludicrously implausible hi-jinks ensue.

I could list many other howlers, but mercy bids me hold my tongue. What we saw yesterday is the first Tatort episode which is also inadvertently a Police Academy movie (Police Academy 9: Dipshits on the Danube). I can only conclude that the writers of this episode have a grudge against Austrian law enforcement. If I were the Austrian police, I would sue everyone involved in this episode for insult (Beleidigung, Section 115 of the Austrian Penal Code).

9 thoughts on “The Danube’s Dumbest Detectives

  1. ROTFL! So true, Andrew! I felt equally flabbergasted at yesterday’s display of utter incompetence and lack of logic, shaking my head in disbelief. What’s worse: I have a feeling much of what we saw is in fact for real…!


  2. I have to agree.

    On a side note:
    I was forced to watch (to lazy to leave) a CSI show this Wednesday. It was about my 10th show of this series in about 5 years.

    I have to conclude: No, really no, crime show in TV can ever get as stupid as CSI. Not even this Tatort.



  3. @anon: Not guilty as charged! The only mainstream German TV drama I watch is Tatort. It’s my way of keeping my finger on the pulse of the nation.


  4. @ Andrew: You should give a try to the “Großstadtrevier” from Hamburg. Several policeman called that series the most realistic series about the work of policemen in Germany.
    And with its age of 25 years and more than 300 episodes broadcasted, it has also earned some merits in german public TV.


  5. Andrew,

    It’s my way of keeping my finger on the pulse of the nation.

    Keeping your finger on the pulse of the nation would be “monitoring the hashtag #Tatort on Twitter”. I suggest doing that after you’ve watched the show, since the monitoring could become very spoilericious at times.


  6. Well, it tells us not so much about how the city of Vienna recruits its police, but a lot about what script writers at the ORF – and, by extension, also those of the susidaries of ARD – were recruited.


  7. > Are there are no other cops in Vienna? (Perhaps
    > they were all killed at the safe house).

    nah, everyone else was preparing the “3. Österreichweite Schwerpunktwoche ‘Die Welle gegen Gewalt'”, starting next week 🙂


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