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The new crime scene from Cologne "Four Years": They're playing something for us!

“Four Years”, a sophisticated Cologne crime scene from the milieu of the performing arts.

It’s a jolly party on New Year’s Eve 2018. So jolly that the single neighbor calls the police. That the 16-year-old daughter of the house is doing it in the garden with a buddy of her father’s three times her age – or now an ex-buddy, he wasn’t invited. So wet and jolly that the level of aggression increases alarmingly with the alcohol level. And that in the morning everyone is still lying around in the living room like dead and has to be woken up by Max Ballauf and Freddy Schenk while a real dead person is floating in the pool. Killed via headlights, electrocuted. But who pushed the spotlight into the water?

“Four Years”: the new Cologne crime scene by Wolfgang Stauch, author, and Torsten C. Fischer, director, has a title that is as simple as it is logical. Because it is also easy to see how the host of the jolly New Year’s Eve party 2018 is sentenced. Mini flashbacks show excerpts from the investigation. But then it’s 2022, and suddenly another old friend and former fellow drama student admits the crime; “Better late than never,” as he explains to the inspectors. They don’t really believe him, but what reason would he have to go to jail instead of his friend? Guilty conscience? After four years?

So who is actually playing Ballauf and Schenk – played by Klaus J. Behrendt and Dietmar Bär – here? In between, the two tap on: more or less all. But why?

Performers form the suspect reservoir. Host Moritz Seitz, Thomas Heinze, was successful before his conviction in a shallow but lucrative series as “Tierdoktor Schröder”. The dead Thore (Max Hepp) made it to the celebrated “theater star”. What Ole Stark, Martin Feifel, would have had the talent for back then at drama school. But drinking got in the way. Was it really him, intoxicated? Or maybe Carolin Seitz, Nina Kronjäger, who, as a TV crime investigator, should have learned a lot about removing traces.

Ballauf and Schenk, suspicious of the abrupt confession, are given a week in 2022 to research and question again.

Of course, this plot is not entirely unheard of for a TV crime thriller. But how it was implemented by Stauch and Fischer is rather unusual, especially for a crime scene in Cologne: without cumbersome explanatory dialogues in which Freddy and Max recap what they found out; instead with the courage to leave gaps; instead casual and self-deprecating; at the same time the characters are taken seriously, as they hate and love each other.

And shown as multidimensional. From the 16-year-old daughter Seitz, Sarah Buchholzer, who asks the inspectors about the question of sex: “When did you start?” About Moritz Seitz, who, released from prison, wants his wife and record player back . Back, because Carolin has a friend, a policeman of all people, who has moved into the beautiful Seitz house. She thinks about the bad, really bad times with Moritz, “but I can’t do it badly again”. The other couple, Ole and Betti (Franziska Arndt), are both convinced that they have not done the other any good. Or at least not good enough.

And in the end there are no Cologne commissioners at the booth with beer this time, but investigators who are plagued by doubts as to whether it is actually best for everyone involved if the truth comes into its own.

“Crime scene: four years” , ARD, Sunday, 8:15 p.m.

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