Comrade Detective is an American buddy cop show created by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. The show follows the premise of popular US action/cop-buddy films and television shows from the 1980s and presents the episodes as a fictional lost Romanian television show commissioned by the Communist Party to promote a communist worldview during the Cold War. Every episode was filmed in Romania using local actors and then dubbed into English as part of the effect. It was released on Amazon Video on August 4, 2017.
|Directed by||Rhys Thomas|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Executive producer(s)||Channing Tatum|
|Original network||Amazon Video|
Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson present the show as if it were an actual influential Romanian television show from the 1980s. Produced by the Romanian communist government, it served as a device to promote a communist worldview opposed to Western capitalism and imperialism during the Cold War. Lost over the years, producers recently found surviving copies of the episodes. With the help of the fictional Romanian Film Preservation Society they have restored the episodes and dubbed them into English.
Within the show hard-boiled but troubled Bucharest police detective Gregor Anghel and his partner respond to a drug bust against the orders of their Captain. This results in a man in a Ronald Reagan mask killing his partner in front of him. Anghel, along with his new partner from the countryside Iosif Baciu, must solve his partner's murder. In doing so, they uncover an insidious western plot to indoctrinate Romanian society with capitalism and religion.
Each character is portrayed by a Romanian actor, as well as an English-language voice actor. The show was first filmed using Romanian actors speaking Romanian. Actors then over-dubbed every role in English.
- Channing Tatum and Florin Piersic Jr. as Gregor Anghel
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Corneliu Ulici as Iosif Baciu
When first conceiving the series, executive producer Channing Tatum asked the creators to bring him the worst ideas they could think of, with the reasoning "When you try to find something that is not working, you figure out what’s cool about it, and you can find some really hidden gems.” Gatewood and Tanaka pitched a satire series that spoofed Communist propaganda from the 1980s. The two had become fascinated with Soviet propaganda television after seeing a mid-1980s PBS documentary on Soviet broadcasts. They initially looked into dubbing over real Eastern Bloc television shows but realized it would be easier to make their own show rather than procure the rights.
The series takes inspiration from the Czechoslovakian show Thirty Cases of Major Zeman. They also took inspiration from the idea that growing up, American 1980s movies like Red Dawn served as both entertainment and propaganda. It also took inspiration from the East German series Polizeiruf 110 and the American film Lethal Weapon. By making the propaganda and inaccuracies obvious to a western audience, they hoped to make the subtle nature of modern propaganda more clear. Tanaka stated that the goal was to create the inverse Soviet equivalent of the type of Russian-villain entertainment common in 1980s America.
The creative team first wrote the episodes in English, then translated it to Romanian. They then filmed the show in Romania with Romanian actors. Other than the director of photography, writers, and director, the entire cast and crew were locally sourced in Romania. The English-language actors were only cast after the series had been filmed and edited in its entirety.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Invisible Hand"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|Detective Anghel witnesses his partner's murder. He and his new partner Baciu hunt the man in the Reagan mask.|
|2||"No Exit"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|The detectives uncover a conspiracy to smuggle the western board game Monopoly into the country.|
|3||"Bread is Bread"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|Continuing to investigate the murder, the detectives must battle against the forces of organized religion.|
|4||"Two Films for One Ticket"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|Undercover, the detectives infiltrate a western-style party full of debauchery and propaganda.|
|5||"The Whole World is Watching"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|On the run as fugitives, the detectives must seek refuge from an unlikely source: the American embassy.|
|6||"Survival of the Fittest"||Rhys Thomas||Brian Gatewood, Alex Tanaka||August 4, 2017|
|The two race against time to stop the man in the Reagan mask from claiming another victim.|
Comrade Detective received mostly positive reactions from critics. Rotten Tomatoes indicated that 82% of critics gave the series a positive review. On Metacritic the series received a score of 66 out of 100 based on 12 critics. Ben Travers of IndieWire gave the show a positive review, calling it a sharp satire. He focused in on the show's goal of deconstruction propaganda, claiming, "They’re not simply here to make you laugh. They’re not here to upset you. They’re here to make you think differently and enjoy your time doing it. By that gauge, “Comrade Detective” is a roaring success. By the basic metric of thoroughly engaging television, it’s still a winner." James Poniewozik of the New York Times gave it a less enthusiastic review, claiming that the show committed too much to its initial joke and ran too long. He concluded, "It's a brilliant idea. But it's not much more than an idea."
- Stanhope, Kate. "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Amazon Board Channing Tatum's Romanian Cop-Show Spoof". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Schildhause, Chloe (August 4, 2017). "What the Hell is Comrade Detective?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Breeding, Jordan (4 August 2017). "How Amazon's Comrade Detective made a long-lost Romanian cop show from scratch". Paste. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Travers, Ben (4 August 2017). "'Comrade Detective' Review: Channing Tatum's New Cop Drama Is Not What It Seems — It's Better". IndieWire. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Grubbs, Jefferson (August 3, 2017). "Is Comrade Detective based on a true story? The Amazon series creators' have several inspirations". Bustle. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Grubbs, Jefferson (3 August 2017). "Who are the dubbed voices in Comrade Detective? The Amazon show is a guessing game of famous speech patterns". Bustle. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "Comrade Detective: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "Comrade Detective: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Poniewozik, James (August 3, 2017). "Nostalgia Goes Niche in 'Wet Hot American Summer' and 'Comrade Detective'". New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2017.