- Review by Kaya Savas - October 18, 2018
Joe Kraemer brings his bold sound to the unique new series on Prime Video called Comrade Detective. The show may baffle most people, but it’s a rather timely satire of Romanian Communist propaganda. The original idea of the show was to obtain real Communist propaganda and then dub it with English dialogue. In the end they couldn’t get the rights and had to film it themselves, but the idea is the same. The faux propaganda pushed with a strong 80’s “buddy cop” aesthetic was filmed with Romanian actors, and then later dubbed with a cast including Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead roles. The end result is a series that wasn’t necessarily spoofing communist filmmaking but rather embracing it fully and letting its existence be the satire. Kraemer approaches the score full-force and as straight-forward as possible. And it’s frickin’ great.
Joe Kraemer’s style is all over this score and it immediately grabs you with that main theme, which feels like Jack Reacher with a lot more flair. The meaty score approaches each character as serious as it can, and does a wonderful job at painting an atmosphere and establishing a tone. There’s definitely an 80’s exploitation influence, but the score doesn’t feel over the top. Well, maybe a little, but that’s the point. By being a bit overdramatic in areas, the score highlights exactly what propaganda cinema is. But this is a score that pushes tension, excitement, and does a wonderful job with theme and variation. Kraemer is excellent at building scenes, which should surprise no one with his amazing track record.
Since this show is sort of starting its own genre, it’s hard to find a comparison to it. How many satirical Romanian Communist propaganda shows are there? At the end of the day though this is a satire. It’s supposed to make you laugh, and thus would put this score in the satire genre along the likes of Elmer Bernstein’s Airplane and Theodore Shapiro’s Tropic Thunder. In that regard, Kraemer is hitting all the right beats the best way he can.
Comrade Detective is bizarre, quirky and one of the strangest discoveries you’re likely to find in the world of streaming television. It’s also totally worth your time. Channing Tatum found this project by having a meeting with the creators of the show, and essentially asking them "what’s one of your worst ideas." They pitched Comrade Detective, Tatum loved it, and they produced the show. We in the US all grew up with 80’s and 90’s movies where the bad guy was some generalized European terrorist. Well, behind The Iron Curtain it was flipped. They were producing movies and shows where Americans were the bad guys (and you even hear Kraemer insert some American patriotism into this score to comment on that). In the end that’s what Comrade Detective is. It’s a crazy out there series with a score from Joe Kraemer that succeeds in a lot of ways. Definitely check it out.