Today's Paper Election 2020 Coronavirus Updates Weather Latest Obits HER Jobs Classifieds Newsletters Puzzles Circulars
story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

Surviving a global health crisis also means surviving the extra time for the mind to roam during home-bound downtime, so of course entertainment may be even more of a factor in the daily lives we lead.

Keep the mind occupied.

Distract from the soul-numbing assault of sad, strange news.

Look to the arts to sustain us.


We have to do something with these hours to kill or thrill since socializing, at least for many, gets shoved unceremoniously to the back burner, the back of the closet, the veritable back bench.

Time alone becomes time to satisfy this particular craving.

For screen watchers looking for the next Netflix or Hulu fix, this is more of the same. Same for introverts and pop culture addicts — we are in our element now, reveling in a list of movies and shows that we may, at long last, have time to whittle down. Queue it up, then watch. Rinse and repeat it.

At least in theory.

For me, working from home and, on the whole, foregoing social outings has led to just a few main arteries of cinematic escape, although not as much of it as I would think. Perhaps I've needed non-screen time when I'm not tapping at the keyboard, which consumes both my jobs, so the radio and reading have really helped satisfy me on another level since mid-March put me at home.

It's like getting back to basics, listening to a story from the radio — uh, the radio in my phone or desktop, that is.

That said, one theme has dominated my actual viewing habits: Watch every episode of the German, neo-noir, gritty brilliance to be found in "Babylon Berlin," a three-season series on Netflix.

Yeah, delightfully nerdy and definitely dark in these dark times, but also super rewarding.

"Babylon Berlin" is a stylish excursion into Weimar Germany, the period just before Hitler's ascendancy to power, and by accounts I have read (as I am no Weimar expert so rely on trusted sources) seems to be fairly on the mark at capturing Berlin's wild, flamboyant culture before fascism took root and snuffed out so much of the human spirit in the 1930s.

Although the history of "Babylon Berlin" intrigues, the propulsive, captivating plot is the kicker for this series, fast-paced with many characters that capture various socioeconomic realities of the time (1929), many beliefs and backgrounds and ways of scraping out an existence within a Germany in shambles after World War I.

At the heart of it are two relatively young people, one man and one woman, figuring out their path in life: a Cologne-based police detective named Gereon Rath, who's sent to Berlin for an undercover mission, and Charlotte Ritter, by turns a partying flapper and dutiful clerk, depending on the time of day.

Rath is also a morphine addict and WWI vet who's secretly romancing the wife of his brother, presumably lost years ago in the war. He's a dedicated cop, though, with a sharp mind. He's decent, if flawed, more than can be said for many characters. Ritter has a stormy home life, which she escapes as often as she can, but she flashes street smarts, savvy and ambition. She wants to join the police force herself, not an easy thing to accomplish. But she has the mind for it, plus an endless amount of plucky energy.

Eventually, their paths merge to kinetic effect.

And together, Gereon and Charlotte make "Babylon Berlin" compulsively watchable, similarly to how the male-female dynamic as an investigative core made "The X-Files" such a pleasure with Scully and Mulder. Both Gereon and Charlotte have a certain panache and show a narrative arc that makes them appealing to follow. They grow, adapt, fall and fight for what they want.

Surrounding them for the narrative ride? A cadre of policemen with unique interests and allegiances, a crafty industrialist, a cabaret owner and his seedy cohorts, a group of shady military types building a secret armed forces, a fringe doctor, a failed actress, a kindly boarding house owner, Trotskyists, an investigative journalist and so many more in a dizzying array of personalities who all feel memorable and, it must be said, essential and meaningful to the plot and milieu.

These first three seasons, which kicked off in 2017, are interconnected in certain respects, but each has a particular focus that makes all three worth watching.

If you need a series to hook you, "Babylon Berlin" is worth the grimy, glorious ride.

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.