German TV Series on the Rise in the U.S.

TV-Series: The Same SkyOn Netflix

Gripping spy drama with Germany’s film star Tom Schiling. Available on Netflix.com (in German with English subtitles

Set in the 1970s in Germany, when the country was still divided in the pro-Soviet communist East Germany and a democratic, capitalist West Germany supported by the Americans, the fates of two families become intertwined when an East German “Romeo” agent (Tom Schiling) on assignment tries to seduce women who work for the government or defense institutions of West Germany.

The Same Sky has classy credentials: the scripts were written in English by Paula Milne, one of the most inventive writers in British TV (The Politician’s Wife, White Heat, The Virgin Queen) then translated into German by the director Oliver Hirschbiegel, whose movies include “Das Experiment” and the Oscar-nominated “Der Untergang” (Downfall) and whose involvement represents another example of TV’s increasing attractiveness to cinematic talent.

Milne’s specialty is psychologically astute drama based on detailed research, and The Same Sky continues this line impressively. It might seem strange for a British writer to create a German drama – although NSA scenes are spoken in English and subtitled for viewers in Germany – but Milne brings a fresh and unprejudiced eye to the time and place. And, at a time when the U.K. and the European Union are negotiating a political divorce, this dramatic marriage between the cultures is a model of European co-operation. The drama won many awards in Germany, incl. Best Sound Design by Thomas Neumann and Best Visual Effects by Jan Adamczyk (VFX Supervisor) and Denis Behnke  (VFX Supervisor) while Tom Schilling was nominated for the German Television Award.

TV Series: Berlin Station  – on EPIX

This EPIX original series, follows Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage), who has just arrived at the CIA foreign station in Berlin, Germany. Miller has a clandestine mission: to uncover the source of a leak who has supplied information to a now-famous whistleblower named Thomas Shaw. Guided by veteran Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans), Daniel learns to contend with the rough-and-tumble world of the field agent: agent-running, deception, and the dangers and moral compromises.

Berlin Station, coproduced by Studio Babelsberg, is in its third season on EPIX. It is a fast, sleek, conventionally structured action thriller set mainly in Berlin and – in season 3 – Budapest. A well-made but not hugely original mix of spycraft, action and sexy office intrigue, Berlin Statiom is elevated by the surprising, and relatively unnoticed, quality of its core cast that includes Leland Orser, Michelle Forbes, Richard Jenkins, and Richard Armitage as well as some of the best German actors like Heino Ferch, Thomas Kretschmann, Claudia Michelsen, and Natalie Woerner. – GW/Petra Schürmann

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