Series review: Tschugger
- David Constantin’s series proves Swiss humour isn’t just a myth
Far from the sometimes (wonderfully) austere beauty of successful Swiss TV series, such as Banking District, or the newly arrived but no less promising Sacha [+see also:
series profile], police comedy Tschugger, directed by David Constantin, manages to impose itself on account of its bewildering moods which see lost mountain villages turned into majestic film sets more closely associated with the western genre.
Discovered in a premiere at Geneva’s GIFF, Tschugger promises to keep audiences on edge with its intentionally improbable but wholly engaging plot, which brims with Swiss-style humour.
Shot in the Upper Valais dialect, the Swiss-German TV series proffers a version of Switzerland which goes beyond the traditional clichés of cheese, mountains, chocolate and boredom. In fact, this self-same clichés are amplified to the extreme in a game of warped mirrors which transform Swiss perfection into regenerative chaos. The Upper Valais offered up to us in Tschugger (which means “police officer” in the local dialect) is populated by Magnum P.I.-style police forces and unscrupulous mafia types who favour fondue forks over guns.
A police comedy/parody wholly shot in a Swiss mountain range which is more akin to the Far West (it’s no coincidence that the Upper Valais is known as the “Swiss Wild West”) than the majestic paintings of Ferdinand Hodler, Tschugger is a TV series in five parts which masters the art of satire and turns clichés into golden gems. Thanks to David Constantin’s uninhibited approach, alleged Swiss lethargy gives way to exhilarating hyperactivity.
A great many non-professional actors star in the series’ cast (including the director himself); it’s a wise decision which lends the series an additional layer of spontaneity and immediacy. In this respect, the author enthuses: “I find it fascinating when characters (actors) move awkwardly in front of the camera. The gratitude and twinkle in non-professional actors’ eyes at the end of a project is an indescribable thing”.
Mafia, drugs trafficking, property speculation, unlikely rap videos exuding the intoxicating aroma of Swiss raclette, this new made-in-Switzerland series takes a no-holds-barred approach, treating us to a wealth of characters we wouldn’t have expected to find in the Valais mountains.
Available from 28 November on SRF (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen) and co-produced by Zurich’s Shining Film alongside Sky Suisse, Tschugger blends Swiss humour (yes, it does exist!) and breath-taking images (a mysterious rendering of the Valais in which to lose ourselves) to wonderful effect. Directed by David Constantin and based on a screenplay by Constantin, Mats Frey (How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) [+see also:
series profile]), Johannes Bachmann, Rafael Kistler, Leandro Russo and Sophie Toth, Tschugger and its twisted charm will likely claim many victims.
(Translated from Italian)
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