"Kottan ermittelt" (which translates as "Kottan investigates") is one of the defining moments of Austrian television. Masquerading as a police/crime series, it is actually a fierce anarchic satire on the Austrian police and Austrian society in general. There are no heroes, only anti-heroes, and the police officers, who are all incompetent caricatures to varying degrees, often solve their cases more by chance than through actual investigation. Major Kottan (the name is a spoof of hardboiled German dime-store novel hero Jerry Cotton) was played by no less than three actors over the course of the series, each giving the character a fairly distinct personality: grumpy, prejudiced misanthrope; sarcastic cynic ; and anarchic nihilist -- the common factor being that each is too caught up in his own preconceptions to actually solve the case. Then there's Inspector Schrammel, who is an incompetent clown, and Police Commissioner Pilch, who is obsessed with catching flies (in the early episodes) and getting coffee out of a mischievous coffee machine (in the later episodes), so it is up to one-legged invalid Inspector Schremser to solve most of the murders. The early episodes contain some of the best moments of fierce social satire ever shown on Austrian television, exposing the "golden heart" of the Viennese as brutal backstabbing and showing the rotten core hiding behind the pretty facades -- the postman who rings twice and the decapitated garden gnomes being just two truly great moments. Over time, running gags and moments of truly pythonesque humor were introduced to an increasing degree, until the series turned into a pretty absurd and sometimes even surreal slapstick comedy in the later episodes.
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