Facing complex crime: Investigating contemporary German crime fiction on television

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The article, after giving a short overview of the history and characteristics of German crime fiction on television, elaborates on recent tendencies in this area. Furthermore, a short reference concerning the resurrection of the gangster film genre in German cinema is made before focusing more specifically on the textual analysis of the TV crime serials KDD – Kriminaldauerdienst/KDD – Berlin Crime Squad and Im Angesicht des Verbrechens/In Face of the Crime. Through critically discussing the dimension of ‘Quality TV’ and proposing, instead, to use the concept of ‘narrative complexity’, the transformative potential of complex generic narrations is emphasized. Focusing on aspects of multiple interwoven and interacting story arcs, a high number of dominant and developing round characters, a clear visual style, a tendency towards world making, self-referentiality and (generic) intertextuality, differentiating normative messages, as well as innovation and emergence, a textual analysis of the two abovementioned TV crime serials follows in order to exemplify recent tendencies in German crime fiction.

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In this chapter the authors explore two significant concepts for comprehending Nordic Noir drama series as a cultural phenomenon. Firstly, they introduce local colour and its long tradition within visual arts and history and link this to more recent ideas on cinematic geography. Secondly, they relate local colour to the concept prized content, or ‘water cooler series’, a common label for the popular television drama series that everyone is talking about when meeting at the water cooler or the coffee machine on an everyday basis. In this context, Nordic Noir and Nordic television drama are linked to transnational television drama and concepts such as ‘high end television’ and ‘quality TV’.
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