The Germans have a tremendous longing for Britishness, as has been shown again in this year, which is rather sad in this context. In probably no non-Anglophone country have more people mourned the Queen and dreamed more of streamers after Downton Abbey.
In no other country in the world (not even in England) would it be possible for millions of people to watch a British butler get drunk within 18 minutes and trip over a tiger skin eleven times on New Year's Eve for decades.
Okay, we've somewhat forgotten that with the other quintessential British tradition, with the crime fiction. In the Agatha Christie Succession. We were actually pretty good at that on TV until well into the 80's. In the good old art of whodunnit.
Where inspectors without a psychological hernia and without psychological depth come to a crime scene that is, if possible, a stately one, and without considering any possible overall social connections, they simply try to reconstruct the course of events through logical thinking and absurd conversations and, after a final general assembly of the suspects, arrest a perpetrator . We know from Reinhard Mey that the butler was happy, but not always.
This post-Poirot art is still celebrated on British television. Works splendidly even in the South Seas – for example in “Murder under Palm Trees”.
So gloriously right around Christmas that Netflix is sending ex-Bond Daniel Craig on a delightfully modernized old-world assassin hunt for a second time as Poirot heir Benedict Blanc in his Knives out follow-up adventure called Glass Onion. It's about the nasty game of a technology billionaire who stages a kind of multi-day crime dinner on his Greek island.
Robert Löhr will not have known anything about the plot. Wanted to make a joke of what's going on in the "crime scene" and test its limits backwards, so to speak, back into tradition. And wrote a case about a crime dinner in Munich – Bayerische Rundfunk is just more modest than Netflix.
Kalli, Leitmayer's and Batic's assistant, invited half the department. For eating and hunting killers. Dressed in their best 1920s clothes, they sit there as if Kalli's pad were the Dowager Countess' salon.
And then the silver-curled duo of Leitmayer and Batic arrive in the robber's civilian home, who didn't know anything about a crime dinner, but grumble at each other in their usual old-married couple way, because one feels betrayed by the other, after all he found out that who wants to retire soon without asking him first.
That the butler could be the murderer can be ruled out right away, because he can just breathe "poison" while he stumbles into the drawing room of Beckford Hall, fiddling with his shirt front like a wonder Freddy Frimpton. Then he's dead.
Now we have to briefly explain how we get there. "Mord unter Misteln", the 90th case for Leitmayr and Batic in 32 years in office, works a bit on the same principle as the Jumanji films. Hardly immersed in the game, Robert Löhr's story, including everyone involved in the Munich dinner, dives down to where Kalli's game was theoretically at home - to the year 1922 and somewhere in the middle of England.
The well-known "crime scene" pathologist is exceptionally allowed to take care of the living and Kalli, the marginal figure from the Munich police department who is always a bit neglected, is the son of the house. There's a shady reverend, a salon socialist medic, a lovely maid, a raunchy singer.
As soon as Butler's bad finger (there's no sign of a gardener, by the way) is dead, Detective Chief Inspector Francis Lightmyer and Detective Constable Ivor Partridge show up at Beckford Hall. And start – dressed in beards in need of explanation, thick-wooled suit, form-fitting uniform and long-necked pipe – with working through the Agatha Christie Whodunnit workout program.
It sizzles between the time and game levels as well as between the two gray heads. Crime clichés and British clichés are played with. Things are very stylish and loving at Beckford Hall. The music is right, the style is right, the castle, which had to serve as the manor house, makes every effort to be more British than Bavarian.
Löhr operates a pleasantly cheerful metagame. Whenever the rather thin plot thread sags, there are wonderful dialogues, allusions fly through the area. It's funny, a bit self-satiric, with no deeper meaning.
A thriller will not come of it. But a fine parlor game that accompanies you perfectly into the casual catatonia of that speculative coma, which is sure to overtake you under the Christmas tree on Boxing Day.