Spooks on bikes
Watching Hollywood movies or TV series set in Berlin is usually a huge pain in the ass for a tour guide. Suddenly cab drivers take a 5 km detour trying to get to the airport just so that Liam Neeson can fall off a particularly cineastic bridge (Unknown Identity), Kollwitzplatz might be in Kreuzberg (Jason Bourne) or someone walks from Gendarmenmarkt all the way to Kurfürstendamm on the other side of town in under 5 minutes (Homeland).
Not so with Netflix’ new show “Berlin Station”. Here, the things really fit, they happen where they would happen in reality as well and even the people in the background are who they should be. And they even manage to do that, without pushing clichés. You won’t have to watch a drone flight around TV tower every 2nd scene, no endless montages of Berlin public transportation and us Berliners aren’t all shown as crazy hedonists.
There is all that, but in just the right dosage. The story is classic spy-stuff with a contemporary twist. The show’s main character is sent to Berlin to plug a leak. Someone is really hurting the CIA by spilling all their dirty secrets to the Berliner Zeitung; abductions, unlawful wiretaps you name it. Like in so many of the most successful serial storytelling formats, the border between good and evil becomes blurry rather quickly, everyone has something to hide. At one point an agent asks his boss “Can’t we just do the right thing once? Just this one time” of course they can’t and even the agency’s straightfaced posterboy is more and more ambivalent towards the whole system. And if you think easy, the whistleblower is the good guy, think again. While his ambitions may be pure, his methods aren’t. The whole show is well made, the actors are convincing and Berlin is shown as it is; as a city with many faces, some dirty, some glamorous and everything in between.
And yeah, we nearly forgot to tell you: the main character is riding a bike to get around town, which of course has nothing to do whatsowever with us giving praise 😉
Ride safe, enjoy the summer, don’t watch too much TV