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Kottan ermittelt - Hartlgasse 16a

episode 1

Austria 1976
produced by
Wolfgang Ainberger for Satel/ORF
directed by Peter Patzak
starring Peter Vogel, Curt A. Tichy, Walter Davy, Louise Martini, Luise Prasser, Maria Engelstorfer, Heinz Ehrenfreund, Alfred Reiterer, Rainer Hauser, Heinrich Strobele, Elfriede Ramhapp, Gerhard Wahl, Irene Kargl, Radmilla Hantschel, Radiaka Rakits, Hannes Gleisle, Franz Cenek, Linda Koch, Madlaine Reiser, Chris Lohner, Peter Patzak, Michael von Wolkenstein, Sissi Boehler
written by Helmut Zenker, music by Georg Danzer

TV series
Kottan ermittelt, Kottan (Peter Vogel)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A retiree is found murdered in her apartment, and upon researching her background, police major Kottan (Peter Vogel) and his assistants Schrammel (Curt A. Tichy) and Schremser (Walter Davy) find out that despite her humble home in a rundown Viennese apartment building, she was a woman of means and owned two apartment buildings where she rented rooms out to migrant workers - and should they fall behind in paying their rent, she was happy to accept sexual favours instead. Kottan, following his xenophobic instincts, and Schrammel follow almost exclusively the migrant worker lead, without ever getting anywhere, only one-legged Schremser takes more interest in the goings-on within the apartment building that's brimming with intrigue. And then another tenant is found murdered, Doplik (Rainer Hauser), a young student and busybody who had been touring the house collecting signatures for a petition to protest a rent hike, and who might have seen something he shouldn't have. Going through the deceased's address book, Schremser finally finds the conclusive clue, linking her to another tenant, investment consultant Lustig (Alfred Reiterer), who it turns out has embezzled her money and lost it at the gambling table. Lustig's arrest ultimately ruins Kottan's ill-constructed case, pinning the murder on the deceased's Yugoslavian cleaning woman (Radiaka Rakits) and her husband (Hannes Gleisle) ...

 

First episode of what would eventually become one of Austria's most successful cop comedy series that's regarded as a cult show nowadays. And despite the same writer-director team throughout and continuity in the supporting cast, the show went through many changes over the years (1976 to 83), turning more and more into (often surreal) farce, especially towards the end of its run. Compared to later episodes, Hartlgasse 16a is rooted in realism and was pretty much designed as the Austrian answer to German crime shows with their omniscient investigators like Der Kommissar. And the difference is really found in the lead character already, Kottan (in this episode, the character went through changes over the series' run) is a grumpy and xenophobic, not overly ambitious cop, who's not immune to barking up the wrong tree or to committing blunders. But he's also not immune to accepting credit for someone else's work. And somehow, the honesty and grounded-ness of the character, coupled with a rather realistic portrayal of the circumstances in a typical Viennese apartment building (with all its ugliness) struck a chord with audiences back when - and the episode rings true even today for that, making it cool yet unusual krimi entertainment.

 

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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