"Balko" is a German
prime time television seriesbroadcast on the private TV channel RTL. It is a police detective story with comical twists featuring two inspectors of the Dortmundpolice, Balko (played by Jochen Horstuntil episode 49, then by Bruno Eyron) and his colleague Klaus Krapp ( Ludger Pistor). Balko's main characteristics are his coolness and his consistently laid-back appearance, whereas “Krappi” is a typical mama’s boy and very clumsy. The series started in 1995 and has won several television awards.
The series has been successful for many years, yet after weekly time slots became rarer and the number of TV premiers decreased due to RTL's restructuring from 2002 onwards, the series lost many of its regular viewers. After shooting ended in November 2003, Balko-actor Bruno Eyron announced his withdrawal from the show while Ludger Pistor said he was willing to continue.
It was not until September 2005 that the show returned to the screen - in its original time slot. However, ratings were insufficient which eventually led to RTL’s announcement of the definite cessation of the series. Some of the episodes that had already been shot were aired (unannounced) late at night whereas the very last episodes have still not been shown.
Balko was the first German crime-comedy series (a similar but
Austrian show titled "Kottan Ermittelt" had already been broadcast by the German TV channel ZDFin the 1980s). The crime cases were known for their bizarre aspects and biting social criticism. One of the series' running gags was the secrecy surrounding Balko's first name (similar to MacGyver, Quincy or Columbo). Another running gag was that Krappi's mother never actually appeared in any episode, although she was mentioned in almost every single one. Viewers were made to believe that she appeared in one episode but in the end this woman turned out to be Krapp's aunt Elsbett.
Genuinely unique for a German TV show was the way in which Eyron took over Horst's role: In an assassination attempt, Balko gets wounded so badly that his face has to be remodeled surgically.
Detective Chief Superintendent Balko
Balko, the main character of the series, is an easygoing and friendly police officer not always sticking to working rules. He is a
conscientious objectorand holds no high school diploma. Most of the time he is surrounded by incompetent colleagues he cannot rely on in cases of emergency. Balko originally comes from Wetter, a small village in the Ennepe Ruhr district, near Dortmund. His parents still live there. So far his Christian name has not been mentioned in any episode.
Detective Chief Superintendent Klaus Krapp
Krapp, also called "Krappi", is a thoroughly honest
public servant. He is never dressed improperly, is always up to date in his profession and well-educated. He graduated from a German high school( Abitur) and is a reserve officer of the " Bundeswehr". Despite his many skills, in the domestic area as well as many others, he has no luck with women. His attempts to score with the opposite sex are legendary but have mostly been a failure. Krapp seems to cling to his mother, who is mentioned repeatedly and lives in Dortmund-Huckarde, though she never appears in person.
Chief Detective Katharina Jäger
After a series of changes in the leadership of the homicide division (during the first years the part of the chief executive was played by Dieter Pfaff as well as for a short time by Horst A. Fechner and Arthur Brauss), chief detective Katharina Jäger (played by Sabine Vitua) became Balko's boss from 1998 to 2000. After her death caused by assassination with a sabotaged car, which was originally directed at Balko, Wittek became the new chief detective.
Police Chief Superintendent Wittek
Police chief superintendent Wittek, called "Quittek", was a patrolman until he is promoted to be detective chief superintendent and head of the homicide division of Dortmund by skipping five ranks. The reason for this is his marriage with the daughter of the Chief of Police. He is very simple-minded and often messes up inspections but because of his lack of competence he also always gives his investigators plenty of leeway. Like Balko, his surname has not been mentioned in any episode so far.
Police Chief Superintendent Marek
Superintendent Marek is the ultimate simple-minded patrolman, assigned to the Dortmund homicide division. His first name has never been mentioned in any episode.
Police Chief Superintendent Schafranek
Superintendent Schafranek is a clumsy, not particularly clever, but very likable patrolman who was assigned to the homicide division after Wittek's promotion. His first name also remains unknown. Schafranek is Marek's best friend.
When Wittek retired, Detective Holtmann became his successor and was appointed chief of the homicide division for the last seven episodes. He was clearly stricter than his predecessor, kept a tighter rein and appeared to be a very competent detective.
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