Fake soviet bloc series delivers real laughs

‘Comrade Detective’ is what one gets when they allow Channing Tatum to be executive producer of an Amazon Original series.

Which, believe it or not, was a great idea.

Hard-boiled Bucharest detective Gregor Anghel (dubbed by Channing Tatum) is paired with a fresh, hip new partner named Losif Baciu (voiced by Joseph Gordon Levitt) after Anghel’s partner is assassinated by a mysterious capitalist wearing a Ronald Reagan mask.

Aping the style of Cold War-era Soviet propaganda, ‘Comrade Detective’ is, at its core, an American buddy cop movie but with the concession that it takes place in communist Romania in the mid-1980s.

Tatum’s writing crew scripted the basic plot points of what they thought a communist detective series would look like, sent the scripts to Romania for actual Romanian actors to play out, then the footage is over-dubbed with American actors trying (and failing spectacularly) to lip-sync English over the Romanian dialog.

In essence, this show is an intentional blend of the poorly-dubbed anime my generation grew up on in the 90s and a particularly good episode of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000.’

The humor relies heavily on you laughing at something purely because it’s a buddy cop movie trope with communist overtones. In one scene Anghel is interrogating a drug dealer, asking why he is selling drugs for money when “the state provides everything you need.”

In a later scene of the pilot, Anghel is carefully creeping into the open door of his dead partner’s apartment when an old lady hears a noise from inside the apartment. When asked what the noise could be, the detective calms her by saying “No need to worry, it’s probably someone redistributing his wealth.”

While not the most engaging or revolutionary show ever constructed, ‘Comrade Detective’ is perfect to put on when nobody in the room quite knows what they want to watch. Tatum and Levitt work well as buddy cops, communist jokes are funny, and the strong 1980s detective show aesthetic blended with depressing Soviet Bloc buildings and crappy 1980s cars makes the show interesting to watch.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)