I’ve had an utterly miserable Christmas.

Christmas Eve in Ronda – neither Wise Men nor Porsche Roadside Assistance crew to be found

On Christmas Eve, my car broke down in Ronda and on Christmas Day I picked up pneumonia, from which I have now more or less recovered.

As a consequence, I watched a lot of telly. There’s not much else to do when you find that you can’t breathe when you lie down.

A friend recommended the new Netflix series, Berlin, and here is my critique :


First of all, my rating – 1.5/10

Berlin is the second worst Netflix series I have ever watched, and a real insult to the discerning viewer. It’s crammed with unnecessary, cliched, and uninteresting detail in an effort to pad out a drama presentation that could have been better delivered in under 90 minutes.

And what was the worst, you may be wondering? Berlin comes close to knocking Obliterated off this unwanted perch, but doesn’t quite manage it. That said, Obliterated was so bad that I gave up on it after three episodes. If you want to find out what The Guardian critics thought of it, click here. I’m totally with them on this, and it’s not often I can say that about The Guardian.

Back to Berlin… let’s have a look at the plot. A gang of disparate but malleable and ambitious young crooks (most of them small time – which raises other questions) are marshalled by their leader, Berlin (aka Andrés de Fonollosa, played by Pedro Alonso).

. Pedro Alonso is, at best, a (very) poor man’s Jimmy Nesbitt,

to carry out a heist and steal jewellery worth €44m (wouldn’t it have been worth more than this?) from the vault of the Auction House in Paris.

By a hugely fortuitously coincidence, there is an underground trail which leads directly to the Auction House, and through some fairly improbable jiggery-pokery, the tech savvy Keila – when not complaining about the talentless and highly expendable Bruce’s comments regarding her unshaved pussy – manages to create enough smoke and mirrors to get them in, and to get them out, under the cover of extreme audience gullibility.

The trail starts in a 12th Century church where a €40k chalice (why bother – surely something from IKEA would have sufficed) is battered and planted to convince the priest that his church has been wrongly listed by everyone who knows anything about churches, and in fact dates back to the 8th Century.

The whole story could be done and dusted in one episode, but what is a series without improbable and irritating subplots? Well, not one that you’d find on Netflix.

Improbable subplot one: the main protagonist Berlin, who couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, decides that he is in love with Camille (Samantha Siqueiros) the wife of Jean (Marcel Gonzalez) the boss of the Auction House. Why on earth would this woman fall in love with him? He is drab lookong to the point of being ugly, awkward, boring, and it’s not hard to see why wife No3 has just jettisoned him. Alonso is, at best, a (very) poor man’s Jimmy Nesbitt, but whereas Nesbitt always grits his teeth with a twinkle in his eye, I can’t see Alonso even having a twinkle deep up his arse.

Improbable subplot two: Okay, there are far, far too many pointless subplots to mention, so I’ll just stick to three. The on/off/slash/off/on dilettante romances between a) Cameron (Begoña Vargas) and Roi, Berlin’s hapless lieutenant (Julio Peña Fernández) and, b) Keila and Bruce.

The writers missed a trick here – Roi should have climbed high into the Parisian morning sky, and wafted around Paris for a bit before crashing onto Berlin’s hotel room and putting us all out of our misery.

These vignettes serve no purpose other than to fill in dead spaces between Berlin and Damian (Tristán Ulloa) detailing the plan, and the plan being enacted. Oh, to be fair, the only convincing and interesting character for me in the entire show is Damian, a university lecturer who augments his meagre salary with the fruits of crime. It’s believable, because who would miss an errant university lecturer?  Term time, and they are either on strike or in the college bar. What’s to miss?

Back to subplot three: post heist, Cameron and Roi decide to go out to celebrate. Now if you were going out to celebrate, the first thing on your list would almost certainly be to steal a high-performance car, drive it to an airfield and threaten your way into some sort of drag race… one with the passenger strapped to the roof. Yep? You would, wouldn’t you? And when Cameron bizarrely has a meltdown towards the end of the race, Roi comforts her by stealing a twin-engined plane, and threatening to take off, but brings the plane to a halt just shy of the end of the runway.  

The writers missed a trick here – Roi should have climbed high into the Parisian morning sky, and wafted around Paris for a bit before crashing onto Berlin’s hotel room and putting us all out of our misery.

Did I score this 1.5/10? That was generous – upon reflection, I’m going to round that down to 1/10.

I have still two episodes to endure, and in the interest of fairness, endure them I will.

Mainly because I sincerely hope they get caught, because crime doesn’t pay, does it? And badly written crime dramas shouldn’t pay either. I thought House of Paper was truly dreadful, but this is even worse.

I’d like to see Berlin and his unmerry men locked up for a very, very long time. Because, while they may or may not get away with theft of the jewels, they certainly should not get away with theft of six hours of my time.

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