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Derrick - Johanna

episode 2

West Germany 1974
produced by
Hans Peter Renfranz, Gustl Gotzler (executive) for Telenova/ZDF
directed by Leopold Lindtberg
starring Horst Tappert, Fritz Wepper, Lilli Palmer, Helmuth Lohner, Helga Anders, Josef Dahmen, Isolde Zimmermann, Helmut Alimonta, Günter W. Schünemann, Gerhard Klarner (voice)
written by Herbert Reinecker, music by Hans-Martin Majewski, title theme by Les Humphries

Derrick, Harry Klein

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Like ever so often, Alfred Balke (Helmuth Lohner) pays a visit to his young girlfriend Roswitha (Helga Anders), with her parents (Josef Dahmen, Isolde Zimmermann) watching TV in the next room and being well aware of their daughter's visitor, and also his identity. This time though, Balke climbs out of her bedroom window, gets into his car, drives to his wife Martha's (Lilli Palmer) bungalow, strangles her, then returns to Roswitha's bedroom through the window, and leaves through the front door, making sure her parents see him leaving - perfect alibi one would think. And of course, inspector Derrick (Horst Tappert) and his assistant Harry Klein (Fritz Wepper) are a bit stunned - they know (though not sure why) that Balke did it, but not how with an alibi as waterproof alibi as his (and fail to see it's actually pretty easy to escape through the window), and they can't get him to confess. But then Martha's sister Johanna (also Lilli Palmer), whom Balke has never met, arrives in town, and she's her sister's splitting image - so Derrick devises the plan to let her stay with Balke, as sort of confrontational therapy to break him. And where detective work obviously fails to work, Johanna's simple presence ultimately does the job.


Now it's safe to say that Derrick isn't a series one would watch for its accuracy in portraying detective work, but this episode really goes a bit far in suspension of disbelief as it is pretty much centered around no more than one plot device, that the murder victim and her sister look alike, and that that would be enough to break the killer. And given that the murderer and his method to get himself an alibi are given away at the beginning of the episode, there really isn't much tension involved in the thing, also not helped by a very anti-climactic finale, when Balke really breaks down at really just one random point and confesses to Johanna, without any build-up. It's still some nostalgic fun, but one of the weakest episodes of the series.


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On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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out now on DVD