By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Faux-'80s Romanian cop series is a thought-provoking hoot.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Lots of satiric swipes at capitalism are taken, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. Capitalists are called "narcissists," "prostitutes," "underhanded," and other things.
Positive Role Models
Gregor is presented as a hero, but he's a womanizer who doesn't respect authority, and he can be vulgar. Iosef is more respectful and thoughtful, but is portrayed as less powerful than Gregor.
Violence & Scariness
A brutal murder is the center of this satiric drama: a man’s throat is slashed on-screen -- we see blood from a distance. In other scenes, a woman is shown with a gunshot wound in her forehead (no gore), and police officers punch and beat criminal suspects. Both cops and criminals may have guns, and use them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jokes about and references to sex: One man is told "We're a communist state, but you don't have to personally service everybody." Later, he draws a penis in an appointment book while trying to intimidate a secretary. Americans are often presented as being very interested in indiscriminate sex.
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Cursing and strong language: "bulls--t," "f---ing," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "jerk-off" (as an insult), "commie prick"; one man calls another "bitch" to imply he's weak.
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Products & Purchases
Many critiques of capitalism, money, greed, consumer goods, etc. "Why do you need money when your needs are taken care of?" asks a character from a communist bloc country. "Healthcare, education, food?"
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently drink vodka and other cocktails at bars; cocaine plays a part in a criminal investigation; several characters (including a main one) smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Comrade Detective is a satire filmed in Romania with Romanian actors and then dubbed by American stars. It's really a comedy, but has enough violence and language that parents may want to reconsider watching with young viewers. A man's throat is slashed by a masked killer in the show's first few minutes (we see blood but no gore); other scenes show a dead woman with a gunshot wound, and police kicking and punching criminal suspects. There's also smoking, including by a main character, and scenes take place in bars with everyone drinking vodka. Language includes multiple versions of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "jerk-off" (as an insult) and "commie prick"; one man calls another "bitch" to imply that he's weak. There are lots of jokes about Americans, who are portrayed as fat, greedy, and shifty, as well as about a detective from a small village who is repeatedly described as a "goatf--ker."
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What's the Story?
COMRADE DETECTIVE is not, a lengthy prologue informs us, a modern satiric comedy filmed in Romania with Romanian actors and then dubbed by American stars. Instead, it's a 1980s-era Cold War artifact, created to shore up capitalist values. And so begins the tale of Gregor Anghel (Florin Piersic Jr., dubbed by Channing Tatum), a tough cop who's saddled with kinder, gentler partner Iosif Baciu (Corneliu Ulici, dubbed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on a murder investigation they both take very personally. Will they find the killer, who hides his identity behind a Reagan mask and seems to have links to the American embassy? As Gregor Anghel says, "You don't become a good communist by going to meetings or memorizing manifestos: You do it with your fists."
Is It Any Good?
Stuffed with knowing jokes about America and capitalism, this deadpan faux-vintage series is destined to become a classic. How can a series pretending to be so old be so fresh? The show's co-creators, Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka (also the team behind NBC's very different sitcom Animal Practice), were reportedly inspired by 1980s American cop series, which would frequently have a stereotypical Russian character as the bad guy. Meanwhile, over behind the Iron Curtain, they were making cop shows with American villains who were just as exaggerated.
And so, the Americans in Comrade Detective are hamburger-pounding football fans who adore money so much they sniff their ill-gotten gains. Meanwhile, Gregor and Iosif and all the ordinary Romanian citizens around them are glued to chess games at bars, and when Gregor and Iosif want to understand a training tool of capitalism, they solemnly examine a Monopoly set. "Take all the land, and all the money ... and let your neighbors starve," they sum up the game's aim. Ouch. They have a point there.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why the prologue that introduces Comrade Detective presents it as a show from the 1980s. Did you believe the ruse? Does it make the show funnier? Is the humor meant to be ironic?
Have you ever seen any cop/crime shows from the 1980s? How close does Comrade Detective come to replicating them? Is it better or worse in any notable ways?
How would this show change if it were set in America? How would the characters be different? Would anything else change? Are there any ways you can tell if a show is set in a locale outside the United States?
- Premiere date: August 4, 2017
- Cast: Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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