Retro Reactions to ‘Deutschland 83’

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Find out more from Channel4’s epic ‘Quantum Jump’ on Sunday night.

We have recently seen Germany depicted in historical dramas 1864 (2014) and The Saboteurs (2015), but it seems difficult to pinpoint the last time audiences were treated to a Germanic series. The Telegraph celebrated the launch of the television drama Our Mothers, Our Fathers in 2013, “exploring the guilt of ordinary Germans during the Second World War has become a ratings sensation in Germany, reaching more than seven million viewers.”

However Deutschland 83 is now aiming the prevalent attention that Nordic and Euro Noir shows have garnered; providing fans with a glimpse from another contentious era. We take a look at the impact of episode one: Quantum Jump, which aired on Channel4 on Sunday night.

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The country’s definitive ideological divide between socialism in the East and perceived capitalism in the West has created an “evil empire”; a Western Superpower name coined by US President Ronald Reagan. During a time of palpable paranoia and anxiety for an uprising, we first meet Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay); an officer at the East-West border crossing interrogating students in possession of prohibited literature, including the works of William Shakespeare. As they leave he scathingly suggests “Take Marx. Learn something” and laughs derisively with his colleague at their expense. Later on, when Rauch gives his Mother the confiscated sonnets, she mockingly asks: “Another West German theatre troupe busted at the border?” From here we can expect a balance of thrilling adventure and humour against the historical back-drop to entertain us.

This brief introduction also establishes our sardonic anti-hero protagonist; a young twenty-something man not taking his job seriously who is chosen for a dangerous mission. Despite his lack of training, Rauch fits the profile put forth by his own aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader). His orders: to search for military targets and plans of an imminent attack under the guise of the new aide-de-camp appointed to General Wolfgang Edel (Ulrich Noethen).

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Jonas Nay went on to receive a nomination by the German Television Awards for both his roles as Best Actor in Deutschland 83 (2015) and starring in the WWII drama Tannbach (2015). Deutschland 83 is also a contender for Best Series and Best Writing for scribe Anna Winger. As well as this prestigious recognition, we take a look at the critical reception with UK audiences:

Deutschland 83 lets you wallow in nostalgia, Nena and a gripping Cold War thriller” – Ben Dowell, Radio Times

“Gripping” and “This is a period drama that sometimes lacks drama but makes up for it with a deep sense of period. 4 out of 5 stars” – Harry Mount, The Telegraph

Deutschland 83 is intense, sometimes very funny and also very stylish. Imagine ‘Homeland’ with Nena’s 99 Balloons playing in the background. Come for the gripping story of betrayal being played out in two countries, and stay for the wealth of nostalgia, including a piping synth soundtrack. Prepare to be hooked” – Caroline Frost, Huffington Post

Viewers have been posting their thoughts on Twitter:

So refreshing to see some German spoken on English Television. Incredible and tense. #Deutschland83

#Deutschland83 was really brilliant! Good to see Channel 4 taking a punt on foreign language, subtitled dramas as part of #WalterPresents

#Deutschland83 is really cracking good stuff

#Deutschland83 is compelling and brilliant!

Loving #Deutschland83 already. Good on @Channel4 for taking a punt on a foreign language drama in primetime slot!

Very excited to be seeing #Deutschland83 tonight on a UK TV channel. Good times for German productions

Really, really loved #Deutschland83. Can’t wait for more and hoping they’ll give me my wardrobe back soon…

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The Guardian’s Imogen Foxhas also drawn attention to Deutschland 83 as a fashion show: “The first step of East German Martin Rauch becoming West German Moritz Stamm is via the universal medium of fashion. The reluctant undercover agent has pushed his West German wardrobe across the table. Folded up are a pair of darker jeans, a red Puma T-shirt and a pair of Stan Smiths. Retro sportswear that the 2016 world can relate to.”

As well as the 80s visual style and the pop soundtrack from Nena’s 99 Red Balloons and Blue Mondays, we can expect more thrilling covert escapades as the adventure continues…

Keep watching Deutschland 83 on Sundays at 9pm on Channel4.