When Comrade Detective dropped on Amazon Prime earlier this month there were many people, like Spinal Tap before it, that failed to realise that the show was actually a pure parody poking fun at the American way of life and buddy cop shows. Created by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka the show promotes Communist propaganda in contrast to the American way of life we are used to seeing from buddy cop shows.
The premise is that Comrade Detective is a 1980’s Romanian television show that has been lost in history… until now when producers recently found surviving copies of the episodes. With the help of the (fictional) Romanian Film Preservation Society they have restored the episodes and dubbed them into English. They episodes are presented by Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson as if it were an actual influential Romanian television show from the 1980s. What helps this concept succeed is that the show was actually filmed in Romania with Romanian actors with the English language dubbing taking place later much later fter the series had been filmed and edited in its entirety.
Where Comrade Detective succeeds when others fail is that the jokey premise actually has a solid plot to hide itself in. The parody stuff works well in the background to an actual story that is being told. We are not constantly being beaten over the head with the same joke.
As the show starts we are introduced to hard living Bucharest police detective Gregor Anghel (Florin Piersic Jr.) and his partner Nikita Ionescu (Cristian Popa) who respond to a drug bust against the orders of their Captain. This results in a man in a Ronald Reagan mask killing Nikita in front of him. Anghel, along with his new partner from the countryside Iosif Baciu (Corneliu Ulici), must solve his partner’s murder. In doing so, they uncover an insidious western plot to indoctrinate communist society with capitalism and religion!