In the 1980’s, Romanians would gather in record numbers in front of their TV sets to watch Comrade Detective. Fronted by Florin Piersic, Jr as hard-nosed police detective Gregor Anghel, the series promised to be an action-heavy event that would both entertain its citizens whilst promoting communist ideals. Sadly, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the show faded into obscurity, only to be recently uncovered by Channing Tatum (of all people) who has so graciously restored the series with all the digital remastering it deserves.
Given the supposed importance of said show, one would assume its name would trigger something of note for television enthusiasts, but you would be rightfully forgiven for drawing a blank as this self-appointed program of significance simply doesn’t exist. Yep, it’s all one big gag! A gag that Tatum and his cohorts have executed so perfectly that their unlikely brilliance shines through the stupidity Comrade Detective has to offer.
Once you’re in on the joke, this 6-episode long arc is a real pleasure to view, thanks in large part to Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt dubbing the vocals of their Romanian counterparts (Tatum provides dialogue for Piersic, Jr whilst Gordon-Levitt voices Corneliu Ulici‘s Iosif Baciu) who recall the 1980’s era gloriously through their well-timed beats. The dubbing is intentionally lousy and the banter between the two detectives is horrendous, but that’s the show’s gimmick, and it manages to execute it all with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
Kim Basinger, Mahershala Ali, Nick Offerman, Bobby Canavale, and Jenny Slate are just some of the other game talent on board lending their (mostly distinctive) vocal notes to an unlikely show whose smartest move is perhaps recognising its limitations. Though the initial idea of Tatum’s all-American type Frat-boy inflection badly syncing to a gruff Romanian actor feels like a novelty that could wear thin, it consistently remains humorous, yet a moment longer than what is contained within its half-a-dozen episodes and this rather ingenious program wouldn’t nearly come as recommended as it does.
A tough-sell of a show that manages to overcome its bizarre concept, Comrade Detective embraces its own lunacy which in turn allows the show to present itself as a modern-day Mystery Science Theater 3000-type affair, something that will either earn willing embracement or terse rejection from audiences curious as to how exactly this will all come together. If you’re expecting any sort of visual aesthetics involving Tatum or Gordon-Levitt, prepare to be very, very disappointed, but if a politically-charged satirical cop show that doesn’t entirely exist is what you’ve been craving (and can there really be many more options) Comrade Detective is the best show you’re about to watch.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Comrade Detective is available on Amazon Prime from today.