Comrade Detective

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Comrade Detective
Created by
  • Brian Gatewood
  • Alessandro Tanaka
Written by
  • Brian Gatewood
  • Alessandro Tanaka
Directed byRhys Thomas
  • Florin Piersic Jr.
  • Corneliu Ulici
  • Adrian Paduraru
  • Olivia Nita
  • Florin Galan
  • Diana Vladu
  • Ion Grosu
Voices of
ComposerJoe Kraemer
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes6 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerInman Young
CinematographySam Goldie
  • Neil Mahoney
  • Nicholas Mansour
Production companies
Original release
NetworkAmazon Prime Video
ReleaseAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

Comrade Detective is an American buddy cop series created by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. The show follows the premise of popular US action/cop-buddy films and television shows from the 1980s and presents the episodes as a fictional lost Romanian television show commissioned by the Communist Party to promote a communist worldview during the Cold War. Every episode was filmed in Romania using local actors and then dubbed into English as part of the effect.[1] It was released on Amazon Prime Video on August 4, 2017.


Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson present the show as if it were an actual influential Romanian television show from the 1980s. Produced by the Romanian communist government, it served as a device to promote a communist worldview opposed to Western capitalism and imperialism during the Cold War. Lost over the years, producers recently found surviving copies of the episodes. With the help of the fictional Romanian Film Preservation Society they have restored the episodes and dubbed them into English.

Within the show hard-boiled but troubled Bucharest police detective Gregor Anghel and his partner respond to a drug bust against the orders of their Captain. This results in a man in a Ronald Reagan mask killing his partner in front of him. Anghel, along with his new partner from the countryside, Iosif Baciu, must solve his partner's murder. In doing so, they uncover an insidious western plot to indoctrinate Romanian society with capitalism and religion.


Each character is portrayed by a Romanian actor, as well as an English-language voice actor. The show was first filmed using Romanian actors speaking Romanian. Actors then over-dubbed every role in English.[1]



  • Adrian Paduraru as Captain Covaci
  • Olivia Nita as Jane
  • Florin Galan as Dragos
  • Diana Vladu as Sonya Baciu
  • Ion Grosu as Stan
  • Tipsy Angelo as Tipsy
    • John DiMaggio as English dub of Tipsy and several other miscellaneous voice parts
  • Channing Tatum as himself
  • Jon Ronson as himself

Guest stars[edit]

  • Richard Bovnoczki as Father Anton Streza
  • Cristian Popa as Nikita Ionescu
  • Odin Neilsen as Andrei Baciu
  • Vali Pavel as Petre Bubescu
  • Radu Romaniuc as Orzan
  • Ille Gâliea as Vasile
  • Ruxandra Enescu as Sally Smith
  • Silviu Geamanu as Coach
  • Ana Ciontea as Iona Anghel
  • Cornel Ciupercescu as Vlad Anghel
  • Paul Octavian Diaconescu as Nastase
  • Mihai Stefan as Sergiu
  • George Burcea as Todd
  • Magda Dimitrescu as Tatiana/Trisha
  • Nicu Banea as Stefan
    • Mark Proksch as English dub of Stefan and several other parts
  • Madalin Mladinovici as Markos Miklos
    • John Early as the English dub of Markos Miklos and several other parts.
  • Cozma Eugeniu as New York Degenerate
    • Bobby Lee as English dub of New York Degenerate.


When first conceiving the series, executive producer Channing Tatum asked the creators to bring him the worst ideas they could think of, with the reasoning "When you try to find something that is not working, you figure out what's cool about it, and you can find some really hidden gems."[2] Gatewood and Tanaka pitched a satire series that spoofed Communist propaganda from the 1980s. The two had become fascinated with Soviet propaganda television after seeing a mid-1980s PBS documentary on Soviet broadcasts.[3] They initially looked into dubbing over real Eastern Bloc television shows but realized it would be easier to make their own show rather than procure the rights.[4]

The series takes inspiration from the Czechoslovakian show Thirty Cases of Major Zeman.[2] They also took inspiration from the idea that growing up, American 1980s movies like Red Dawn served as both entertainment and propaganda.[2] It also took inspiration from the East German series Polizeiruf 110 and the American film Lethal Weapon.[5] By making the propaganda and inaccuracies obvious to a western audience, they hoped to make the subtle nature of modern propaganda more clear.[2] Tanaka stated that the goal was to create the inverse Soviet equivalent of the type of Russian-villain entertainment common in 1980s America.[5]

Episodes were initially written in English before being translated into Romanian. The shows were filmed in Romania with local cast.[6] Other than the director of photography, writers and director, the entire cast and crew were locally recruited in Romania.[3] The English-language actors were only cast after the series had been filmed and edited.[6]

In an unlikely coincidence worth mention, the main Romanian actor, Florin Piersic Jr. is the son of Florin Piersic, the main actor of a pretty similar Romanian film series that appeared in 1980–1987, Mărgelatu, which claims the settings of years 1840s-1850s in Romania in 6 episodes: The Road of the Bones (1980), The Yellow Rose (1982), The Mysteries of Bucharest (1983), The Silver Mask (1985), The Turquoise Necklace (1986), and Everything Costs (1987). In the third episode of Mărgelatu, The Mysteries of Bucharest as in The Turquoise Necklace, the two main heroes (Florin Piersic and stunt master Szabolcs Cseh) preempt an attempt by Austrian Empire to foment a revolution as a pretext to invade and take control of the Romanian state found at the time under king Bibescu, in somewhat similarly intricate intrigues and stunts as the ones recalled by Comrade Detective to be happening 150 years later with the atmosphere leading to the 1989 revolution. The police quarters scenes are also similar to the ones in the Brigade Diverse in Alert (1970-1971).


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"The Invisible Hand"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

Detective Anghel witnesses his partner's murder. He and his new partner Baciu hunt the man in the Reagan mask.

Guest appearances by Kim Basinger, Beck Bennett, Jerrod Carmichael, Bo Burnham, Sandy Martin, John Early, Mark Proksch, and Jon Ronson.
2"No Exit"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

The detectives uncover a conspiracy to smuggle the western board game Monopoly into the country.

Guest appearances by Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Kimmy Gatewood, Aly Ward Azevedo, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, and Tracy Letts.
3"Bread is Bread"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

Continuing to investigate the murder, the detectives must battle against the forces of organized religion.

Guest appearances by Daniel Craig, Betsy Sodaro, John Early, and Jon Ronson.
4"Two Films for One Ticket"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

Undercover, the detectives infiltrate a western-style party full of debauchery and propaganda.

Guest appearances by Bobby Cannavale, Mahershala Ali, Fred Armisen, Aly Ward Azevedo, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, John Early, Katie Aselton, Mark Duplass and Bobby Lee.
5"The Whole World is Watching"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

On the run as fugitives, the detectives must seek refuge from an unlikely source: the American embassy.

Guest appearances by Aly Ward Azevedo, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Kate Berlant and Mark Proksch.
6"Survival of the Fittest"Rhys ThomasBrian Gatewood, Alex TanakaAugust 4, 2017 (2017-08-04)

The two race against time to stop the man in the Reagan mask from claiming another victim.

Guest appearances by Daniel Craig, Beck Bennett and Mark Proksch.


Comrade Detective received mostly positive reactions from critics. Rotten Tomatoes indicated that 82% of critics gave the series a positive review.[7] On Metacritic the series received a score of 66 out of 100 based on 12 critics.[8]

Ben Travers of IndieWire gave the show a positive review, calling it a sharp satire. He focused in on the show's goal of deconstructing propaganda, claiming, "They're not simply here to make you laugh. They're not here to upset you. They're here to make you think differently and enjoy your time doing it. By that gauge, Comrade Detective is a roaring success. By the basic metric of thoroughly engaging television, it's still a winner."[4]

James Poniewozik of The New York Times gave it a less enthusiastic review, claiming that the show committed too much to its initial joke and ran too long. He concluded, "It's a brilliant idea. But it's not much more than an idea."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stanhope, Kate. "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Amazon Board Channing Tatum's Romanian Cop-Show Spoof". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Schildhause, Chloe (August 4, 2017). "What the Hell is Comrade Detective?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Breeding, Jordan (August 4, 2017). "How Amazon's Comrade Detective made a long-lost Romanian cop show from scratch". Paste. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Travers, Ben (August 4, 2017). "'Comrade Detective' Review: Channing Tatum's New Cop Drama Is Not What It Seems — It's Better". IndieWire. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Grubbs, Jefferson (August 3, 2017). "Is Comrade Detective based on a true story? The Amazon series creators' have several inspirations". Bustle. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Grubbs, Jefferson (August 3, 2017). "Who are the dubbed voices in Comrade Detective? The Amazon show is a guessing game of famous speech patterns". Bustle. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "Comrade Detective: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "Comrade Detective: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Poniewozik, James (August 3, 2017). "Nostalgia Goes Niche in 'Wet Hot American Summer' and 'Comrade Detective'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2017.

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