Berlin Station is a contemporary spy series that follows Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage), an undercover agent who has just arrived at the CIA station in Berlin, Germany. Miller has a clandestine mission: to determine the identity of a now-famous whistleblower masquerading as "Thomas Shaw." Guided by jaded veteran Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans) Daniel learns to contend with the rough-and-tumble world of the field officer - agent-running, deception, danger and moral compromises. As he dives deeper into the German capital's hall of mirrors and uncovers the threads of a conspiracy that leads back to Washington, Daniel wonders: Can anyone ever be the same after a posting to Berlin? (EPIX)
After reading this intro on a new espionage series on EPIX, I had my trepidations. How they could refer to a CIA case officer working under official cover in an American Embassy as an undercover agent is beyond me. That’s a beginner’s mistake. But seeing this was filmed on location in Berlin, I had to take a look.
I watched the first two episodes and was impressed. The action and intrigue is understandably compressed for TV. No one wants to watch case officers typing out the many clandestine operation proposals, contact reports and intelligence reports that are a large part of the job. Believe me, we case officers don’t like it either.
The characters were recognizable. I’ve seen them all and, admittedly, saw parts of myself in some of them. The filming in Berlin was familiar to the point of drawing me deeply into the action. I was never stationed there, but I spent six years working there… a lot.
This passage from an LA Times review hits the mark.
Apart from the cases at hand, the underlying thrust of the series seems to be that whichever side you work for — be you agent, double agent, lone wolf, acting on principle or just for the pay — espionage will mess you up. Steinhauer doesn't overplay the point — no one's clinically ill here, just navigating the emotional downsides of double-dealing as a daily grind. But we are never completely sure whom to trust and whom even to like, whether to root for the moles or the spooks.
Berlin, old and new, pristine and vandalized, streets bustling with life, still makes a fine setting for this kind of tale, even now that the wall is down, Germany is one and the Cold War, for the next 20 minutes at least, is over. (LA Times)
Writing critical commentaries in bold language has consequences. One of them is being placed on assorted “No Invite” lists. That shunning does have its compensations, though. It adds to the time available to indulge pastimes. Mine include viewing European detective film series.
They are instructive.
If I am not on more "no invite" lists than DR. Brenner, I wish to make a formal complaint to the Blacklist Section at AIPAC and its subordinate branch at the WH. BTW, we too, watch a lot of Euro crime. "Engrenage" would be my favorite. pl
THROUGH THE DETECTIVE'S LENS
Detective stories have been making a splash on European screens for the past decade. Some attract top-notch directors, actors and script writers. They are far superior to anything that appears over here – whether on TV or from Hollywood. Part of the impetus has come from the remarkable Italian series Montelbano, the name of a Sicilian commissario in Ragusa (Vigata) who was first featured in the skillfully crafted novellas of Andrea Camilleri.
Italians remain in the forefront of the genre as Montelbano was followed by similar high class productions set in Bologna, Ferrara, Turino, Milano, Palermo and Roma. A few are placed in evocative historical context. The French follow close behind with a rich variety of series ranging from a revived Maigret circa 2004(Bruno Cremer) and Frank Riva (Alain Delon) to the gritty Blood On The Docks (Le Havre) and the refined dramatizations of other Simenon tales. Others have jumped in: Austria, Germany (several) and all the Scandinavians. The former, Anatomy of Evil, offers us a dark yet riveting set of mysteries featuring a taciturn middle-aged police psychiatrist. Germany’s gem, Homicide Unit – Istanbul, has a cast of talented Turkish Germans who speak German in a vividly portrayed contemporary Istanbul. Shows from the last mentioned region tend to be dreary and the characters uni-dimensional, so will receive short shrift in these comments.
If you missed this episode of Larry Wilmore's "Nightly Show" I recommend you watch it all the way through. Here we have a group of Black comedians discussing the phenomenon of the "Trans-Racialled" White woman who until last week portrayed herself as Black and who was the head of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP as a Black woman. Among the interesting things about her now known are the lawsuit she brought against Howard University as a graduate student for discriminating against her as a White woman and the hate mail she sent herself in Spokane.
This morning on Fox News a psychiatrist tried to tell the morning news crew that it is a bad thing for people to tell themselves that they are what they feel themselves to be. Given the current mania in the US for self-determination in identity that idea clearly frightened the news people and they did their best to shut him up. pl
The Jon Stewart Show is the favorite of all the shows my wife and I watch. Stewart’s view of life: his determination to reverence the facts, his intense desire to be free of cant or popular falsehoods, his determination to be free of fad, his suspicion of the fashionable and the current, his determination to be truthful, no matter what the cost, make him a special delight for us.
Could anyone have deflated the pompous idiocy of the White House Correspondents Dinner with more deftness, or more skin peeling sarcasm than Stewart? When you have CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer standing there in his tux, facing the TV cameras, saying, “I can’t believe that I am standing here with Jane Fonda," one makes the effort to suppress the urge to puke. (My language is vulgar, I realize, but then, so is Wolfie.)
I know Judith Miller, the disgraced The New York Times journalist. I knew her socially in the 1970s when she was dating Larry Stern, an editor at The Washington Post. We made friends there. Judy is very good looking, a virtue she is very aware of, and which she uses to great effect. Men adored her. We used to have lunch and trade tid-bits but we were simply friends. She was a very hard worker, very ambitious and productive, and I always respected her until the advent of the 2003 war when she like Hillary Clinton, were fed, spoonful by spoonful, the bigoted second hand nonsense originating in the white House --- the allegation that Saddam Hussein was developing WMD. He wasn’t, and had not been since May of 1991, and the “intelligence community” knew it.
The ideal of the journalists with whom I have worked and have respected, is the reverence for facts, especially inconvenient facts. All of us have tendencies, habits, deep rooted beliefs that, if not corrected prevent us from calmly and critically evaluating the information our sources give us. Reporters are a bit like bees that alight on different blossoms until we can come up with a mixture of truthful facts to be used in a story.
"AVAD ZARIF: Unlike others, I'm not going to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States. I consider the-- I mean as-- as I read the American constitution, I believe the-- executive has the prerogative over foreign policy and for any foreign government, it has to lead with the executive. That's the only way you can have international affairs. So I will accept the commitment of the U.S. government, the U.S. administration, about what-- going to do. And I will-- I mean if they have an agreement, I will hold them accountable. And the international will hold the government of the United States accountable to its undertakings. Whatever President Obama and Secretary Kerry want to do with their domestic affairs is their-- their business." Zarif
It would be tempting to think that Joe Scarborough (converted inhabitant of Gotham) imbibed an idealistic view of Zionism through self identification with Paul Newman as Begin in "Exodus" in some run down West Florida movie house and/or the vision of Senta Berger (the Christmas sandwich) up on the same grainy silver screen.
But, alas, pilgrims, I suspect that keeping his job in a milieu that punishes a lack of "right thinking" on the "right side of history"may have more to do with his loyalty to "the cause."
Today, the madcap Mika, queen of self esteem for women, tried to say that Bibi had raped our political system with the contempt for things un-Jewish for which he is notable. "Abajo los Goyistas!" might be his battle cry if he were that other MSNBC stalwart, Jose Diaz-Balart (a modern day "Zorro" seeking to free downtrodden Latinos from WASP oppression). In any event Joe saw his chance and leapt into the breach (as in "once more" etc.) to "remind" Ann Curry that Iran wishes to perform genocide upon the Jewish people in Israel. She blinked a few times, saw her career threatening error, and crumbled in the face of his Old Testamental wrath.
The repeated statements by Zarif that it is the STATE OF ISRAEL and not the Jews that is the object of Iran's animus were quickly discounted as unacceptable. How dare he try to fool us that way!! How dare he? pl
Just want to give everyone a heads up on a TV series that started on AMC yesterday. It's called "Turn" and chronicles the evolution and exploits of the Culper spy ring that served George Washington on Long Island. The TV series is based on "Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring" by Alexander Rose. The book came out in 2006, but I haven't read it yet. I just watched the first episode of the series on the internet. (I'm too cheap to spring for cable, still relying on an a big antenna in the attic to get digital broadcast.) I enjoyed it very much and plan on watching the series religiously along with "Vikings." on the History Channel. I'm definitely going to read the book, as well.
If you liked Colonel Lang's trilogy, you will probably like this series and book. BTW, when is the "Strike the Tent" trilogy going to be made into a series or, better yet, a movie trilogy?
A couple of the commenters in the Superbowl open thread have remarked on the Chrysler ad featuring Clint Eastwood yesterday. I watched it, as well as most of the other ads and the occasional bits of football that they broadcast in between them, with an Information Operations (IO) bubba. Always interesting to see what the messaging professionals think of the professional messaging. Anyhow it was pretty clear that this was one of the two or three best ads of the night (and I do agree that the Fiat ad was great too). What immediately struck me was just 1) powerfully done ad, 2) is that Clint Eastwood? Really? Given the subject matter of the ad and what I think I know of his politics?, 3) I bet a whole lot of people are going to look at this as a political ad and specifically for President Obama's reelection.
So what say you all? Good, bad, or otherwise on this ad?
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
Faute de mieux (that's French), I watched the linked program below. Barry Lando apparently thinks that the Chinese, Pakistanis, Iranians, Iraqi Shia, Saudis, etc. have made fools of the United States while wandering the corridors of a maze. This is what, allegory? Extended metaphor? It seems to imply that these people and governments are not purposeful, and that they are not reacting to what they have correctly perceived to be the inherent "intellectual" weaknesses of Americans taken as a whole. Oh, yes, I left out the Israelis and their 5th column. My bad.
I would argue that none of this could have happened if the marketing of pop culture had not become the major motif (Ruritanian?) of American life. Today we hear politicians describe their pursuit of constitutional office as a process of "branding" and "packaging" people who are; wavy haired, moneyed, pretty, minoritied, etc. through a process which assumes that selling government is like selling toothpaste.
Perhaps the political consultants are correct, but I would opine that such a theory can only work well in an atmosphere in which the electorate are so poorly informed and ignorant of basic history, civics (remember that?) geography, etc. that they can be sold dog s--t for toothpaste if the marketing campaign is well enough funded.