Germany's sharp take on the Scandi-noir genre, a preview of Art Stage Singapore and a slick new set of earphones.
Germany is starting to equal Scandinavia when it comes to dark, brooding TV dramas. Young writers are drawing on the experience of two world wars and a tense history of political and cultural separation to create a new breed of big-budget TV dramas that rival the likes of Forbrydelsen (The Killing) and Bron (The Bridge) and have appeal around the world.
Other than a handful of shows, such as Berlin Wall escape drama The Tunnel and long-running cop drama Derrick, German series have struggled to get exported widely. But Generation War – a Band of Brothers-style drama that tells the story of five German friends, including an aspiring singer and a Jewish tailor, as they navigate their way through the Second World War – has changed all that. The show was sold to broadcasters around the world in 2013, including Australian public broadcaster SBS, Irish network RTÉ and BBC2, where it became the first foreign-language drama to air on the channel since Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom in 2001. This year Deutschland 83 will become the first German-language drama to air in the US after SundanceTV bought the show. The eight-part drama, written by novelist Anna Winger in English before being translated into German by her TV producer husband Jörg Winter, is a coming-of-age spy story set in East Germany in the 1980s.
Both Generation War and Deutschland 83, as well as a number of new projects (see right), deal with controversial military and political issues that a new generation of German TV show creators are willing to tackle. They are garnering much global kudos – and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Babylon Berlin: An epic period drama that mixes an edgy cop thriller with 1972 film Cabaret. Starting in 1920s Berlin, the 12-part series – executive produced by Run Lola Run and Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer – culminates in the election of the Nazis in 1933.
Line of Separation: Inspired by true events between 1945 and 1961, six-hour drama Line of Separation, produced by the team behind film The Lives of Others, is set in a small German village that sits on the demarcation line between the American and Russian occupation zone.
The Team: Borgen and House of Cards star Lars Mikkelsen leads a team of detectives from Berlin, Copenhagen and Antwerp after a series of murders leaves a bloody trail across Europe.
The letters MM in Denon’s A4-MM400 range of headphones stands for “music maniac” but we wonder if any bona fide loony would consider using these handsome ear-caressing cans, finished in American walnut hardwood. With Bach they’re pin-drop perfect and with Joanna Gruesome they’re filthy fun. They’re detailed and responsive and you’ll find yourself rediscovering records you never loved quite enough.
Singapore has a fine-art fair whose visitors will understandably ask where all the artists’ studios are hiding. It’s a good question and one this newish quarterly magazine aims to answer in style with spreads on indigenous artists, considered pieces on Southeast Asian art and collector Q&As – all on slick glossy paper. There is definitely a bustle in Singapore’s hedgerow. More wunderkammer than white cube – and why not?