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Ein Fall für zwei - Die grosse Schwester

episode 1

West Germany 1981
produced by
Hans Peter Renfranz, Harald Wigankow (executive) for Galmon Film/ZDF
directed by Wolfgang Storch
starring Günter Strack, Claus Theo Gärtner, Daniela Ziegler, Michael Drescher-Stierhofer, Eva Pflug, Anfried Krämer, Rolf Beuckert, Hans-Jörg Assmann, Klaus Götte, Ludwig Haas, Raidar Müller-Elmau, Dietmar Köppel, Christian Hoening, Hubertus Petroll, Axel Ganz, Edith Beck, Rainer Hildebrandt, Hans Jürgen Krützfeld, Karl Hans Meuser, Axel Junge-Wentrup
written by Karl Heinz Willschrei, created by Karl Heinz Willschrei, Georg Althammer, music by Rolf Kühn, title theme by Klaus Doldinger

TV-series
Ein Fall für zwei/A Case for Two

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Paul Schneider (Michael Drescher-Stierhofer) is accused of being part of a gang that vandalized cars late one night, but his lawyer Dr. Renz (Günter Strack) makes it appear that the arresting officer, patrolman Matula (Claus Theo Gärtner) arrested him on account of mistaken identity, and ultimately Paul gets off with parole.

Matula is a rather unorthodox patrolman, often bending rules a bit if it fits him personally - not that he's in the least corrupt, more in terms of human touch - which is very much to the dismay of his superior Wunderlich (Ludwig Haas), who's only waiting for an opportunity to "get him".

During one of his assignments, Matula meets lovely Laura (Daniela Ziegler), who he's charmed by almost immediately, and later in an unrelated incident he helps her spring her car from the car pound, using his position as a policeman. He soon manages to ask her out, and eventually they land in bed together - and then he learns that she's the older sister of Paul Schneider, who has brought him up since the death of their parents. Given their rocky start, Matula and Paul soon strike a friendship. During a trip Matula takes with Laura and Paul, he lets it slip that there's a practically unguarded industrial compound where there's equipment worth millions for the taking. Of course, Paul, who isn't nearly as innocent as his sister would like him to be and that he was made out to be in the trial at the beginning of the episode, and his gang soon break into the industrial compound, and soon enough the police is called - including Matula, who soon enough comes face to face with Paul, but instead of making an arrest he helps him hide away from his colleagues. Paul's accomplices are arrested though, and without Matula's knowledge, one of tehm spills Paul's name - and eventually Paul is arrested at Laura's apartment, unfortunately in Matula's presence, who is now accused to be one of Paul's accomplices. Remembering Dr. Renz from the trial, he tries to hire him but Renz has to turn him down because of a conflict of interest - but he has taken an interest in the patrolman and gives him advice as to how to handle the trial. At the trial, Matula defends himself and confesses to pretty much everything, but explaining his actions works in his favour, as does Paul's statement who tries to pull Matula deeper into the story to make himself look innocent, a charade the court doesn't believe. Matula's let off by the court, but it's less than likely he'll survive the police's own disciplinary proceedings conducted by his nemesis Wunderlich - and enter Dr. Renz again who suggests for Matula to become a private detective, and pretty much the brawns to his brains as a lawyer ...

 

In a way, Die Grosse Schwester is the perfect set-up for a long-running series (still produced to this day, though Günter Strack quit in 1988 after 60 episodes, Claus Theo Gärtner in 2013 after 300 episodes), as it really digs deep into the backstory of one of the series protagonists, Matula, and gives his character a chance to grow, and also become his own before the series' formula is established in the next few episodes (and repeated a nauseum).

This might also put too much praise on this episode though, as its screenplay is hardly above average, and many plot elements seem to be forced into the story to make the set-up work rather than worked towards. At the same time, the direction makes little efforts to hide the episode's TV-series roots and seems at best workmanlike.

That all said, this pilot might actually score high on the nostalgia scale, but that doesn't make it "good" in the traditional sense of the word, merely fun to watch.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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