Schwarz Rot Gold (1982–1995)
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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Uwe Friedrichsen ... Zollamtsrat Zaluskowski
Siegfried Kernen ... Siggi Hobel
George Meyer-Goll ... Max Doellke
Inigo Gallo ... Emil Brändli
Hans-Günter Martens ... Vorsteher Brauer
Udo Thomer ... Müller
Henning Schlüter ... Prof. Brunner
Harald Pages ... Dr. Waldmann
... Dr. Goedecke
Dietrich Mattausch ... Feder
Renzo Martini ... Delmestre
Fernando Pannullo ... Dettori
Roland Heitz ... Dr. Limmer
Hans Hermann Kordeck ... Rost
Edgar Bessen ... Globig


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Release Date:

22 August 1990 (West Germany)  »

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Beautiful on-location-photography at Sardinia, one of the best episodes
13 February 2009 | by See all my reviews

The show tells about of a bunch of government agents and bureaucrats working for the German Customs Investigation Office at Hamburg. We have Hobel (Siegfried Kernen), the typical bureaucrat with the big glasses and the porn magazine under his desk, we have Doellke (George Meyer-Goll), the anarchistic new guy with beard and pony tail under his bald head, and we have, of course, grim, but honest Zaluskowski (Uwe Friedrichsen from Edgar-Wallace-fame), all of them working in the same shabby office, having to visit a number of dirty places, experiencing about every kind of dishonesty and hostility along their way, and all of them trying to make the big bosses of economy play by the rules – knowing even if they ever got one of them convicted, that they will never even be half as wealthy as the least important of their opponents' lawyers.

To give an example I just summarize one of arguably the best episodes this show has to offer: Because the Sardinian goat farmers live and work under such poor circumstances, EU law has agreed about an import subsidy of Sardinian goat cheese to support their business. The fact that a load of goat cheese contains not only goat cheese but also a considerable amount of German cow milk powder raises the suspicion of the German Customs Investigation Office. Zaluskowski drives to Sardinia where he realizes for the first time the desperate circumstances of the Sardinian farmers who are in desperate need of support. However, he also finds out that the import subsidies have been abused for fraud: numerous loads of goat cheese have in fact been imported, then exported in secrecy, then imported and imported again and again and again for no reason but to cash in the subsidies. Later, he resumes: "I never knew under which poor circumstances these goat farmers have to work and live. But do you actually believe that even one single penny of that big fraud will ever reach them? … Perhaps this law was even made for this fraud in the first place, and by the very people who have benefited from it…"

The show does NOT "blame it all on capitalism" or on some villainous CEO meant to represent it. It also criticizes the law (EU law in particular) or the way some people with the obvious intention of doing something good sometimes make it all too easy for others to loot and to exploit exactly the people which were originally meant to be protected and supported. Most of the time, the protagonists are not even up against actual business crime or some CEO's great bunch of lawyers, but against themselves: other bureaucrats and government agents and directives. In this case it is an old Professor who continues to argue about the amount of cow milk powder which is still "allowed" in Goat cheese and keeps Zaluskowsky and his team from acting far too long...

If you are looking for simple black-and-white solutions and the blaming of only one side, do not watch this show. It is always very well researched, takes its time to explain things and tries to show every side of the things and the people in question. It takes its time to explain that business crime, tax evasion and embezzlement of subsidies isn't just "being cleverer than others" or making money out of nothing, but that it actually has (negative) influence on the whole society and environment, that it means actually taking other people's money, welfare or jobs.

If someone thinks, the government would do best just to stick out of business and economy then probably even this show won't convince him otherwise. However, it may help him to understand why there are people thinking differently.

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