Amsterdam As Chill Murder Capital


BEST. COPSHOW. EVER. It’s called Baantjer and it’s set in Amsterdam, a gloriously scenic Amsterdam where it rarely rains and its inhabitants – a rich interactive tapestry of cops, penose, squatpunks, Suri-Vlaamse hipsters, Yugo mafia types, e-clubbers, admen, real estate speculators, prostitutes and fishmongers – all run the risk of being murdered at any moment.

Happily those Amsterdammers that do get offed can rest in peace with the knowledge that police detective De Cock (‘ceeooceekaa‘) – played by Piet Römer using a static minimalism that he fine-tuned as a celebrated interpreter of Beckett plays – will unmask the perpetrator through sheer doggedness and a Zen-like tolerance of all who he encounters within the victim’s milieu. Watching Baantjer is like putting on an old comfortable sweater: one that begins with a bloody corpse and then ends with a flashback of the bloody act while De Cock explains to his wife and colleagues, during a gezellig dinner at his home, how he managed to put his finger on the pulseless pulse.

But the most charming part of the show occurs about 37 minutes in when De Cock goes to his favourite Red-Light local (Cafe Lowietje which is in fact located on  a very quiet Jordaan street, 3e Goudsbloemdwarsstraat) to ruminate over a ‘cognackje’ and to shoot the shit with his pal the bartender who acts as a local gossip encyclopaedia. At one point, a usually inane comment from this bartender triggers a dramatic swoop in the soundtrack and a subtle glimmer in De Cock’s eye that works to tell the now happily hypnotized viewer: EUREKA! Other recurring elements that makes the show more about blissful familiarity than elbow-chewing suspense are: De Cock’s smartass sidekick Vledder nursing a hangover, De Cock’s petty-minded boss screaming ‘Get Out!’ after De Cock subtly makes him aware of his own stupidity, and product placement in the form of Yakult yoghurt drink (in earlier seasons) or Lipton Cup-A-Soup (in later seasons). As bonus, the acting is in fact quite fine and the script quite well researched – though the latter is probably aided by the fact that many of the shows  are based on the books by a former Warmoesstraat cop Appie Baantjer (books that in the English translations curiously transform ‘De Cock’ into ‘De Kok’).  

But the real star of the show remains the setting: Amsterdam rarely looks sweeter. It makes you proud to be an Amster-burger. Perhaps it’s just the pacing: the calm slow pans of gables, water, parks and trams that actually hold to the speed limit. It’s an idealized vision of Amsterdam you can turn to when you are too lazy to bike through the rain to see it for yourself.

RTL4 is currently prescribing the Xanax of copshows on Saturday nights.

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Posted in Uncategorized 13 years, 11 months ago at 12:20 pm.

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