SOKO Leipzig members Ina and Jan are investigating an apparent suicide while their boss Hajo Trautzschke awaits the arrival of his friend Jack Meadows, a retired British cop. In a bar, Jack spots a familiar face from a case unsolved in London.
Aired since 2001 on German pubcaster ZDF, UFA Fernsehproduktion's "Krimi-Serie" SOKO Leipzig is one of the spin-off series of SOKO 5113, launched in 1978. In 2008, ITV and ZDF joined forces for a crossover between SOKO Leipzig and the long-running police drama The Bill, produced by Talkback Thames (owned by RTL Group via Fremantle Media) (1). Two versions were filmed simultaneously by British director Robert Del Maestro, with a script jointly written by Frank Koopmann & Roland Heep and Steve Bailie. This special, in which Hajo Trautzchke (Andreas Schmidt-Schaller) went to London with his colleague Ina Zimmermann (Melanie Marschke), aired first on ITV1 in november 2008 as a two-parter called Proof of Life.
« Einmal Cop, immer Cop. »
In september 2009, the German version, titled Entführung in London ("Abduction in London"), aired as a special feature-length episode of SOKO Leipzig. The Bill was axed by ITV1 in 2010 after 27 years but one of its characters, Jack Meadows, played by Simon Rouse, is now retired and visiting Leipzig for a 90-minute special of SOKO Leipzig. In Die schwarze Witwe ("The Black Widow"), aired by ZDF on December 30, 2011, Jack arrives in his own Cessna - called "Jack's Sparrow"! - to spend a few days with his friend Hajo. Meanwhile, Trautzchke's colleagues Zimmermann and Jan Maybach (Marco Girnt) investigate the death of Leo Karmann, a geologist who apparently threw himself out of the window. But they clash with LKA detectives Stravinsky (Robert Dölle) and Müller (Michael Schenk).
As Jack Meadows is having a drink with Hajo, he sees a face from the past: Karen Bishop, suspected of having murdered her husband in London. But in Germany the woman is known as Irene Karmann (Anica Dobra), and she's the wife of the dead geologist. Is Meadows really visiting a friend or is he in Leipzig for some unfinished business? Why is he carrying a gun? And will his friendship with Hajo Trautzchke be jeopardized by Irene? « Schuldig oder nicht schuldig. Das ist die Frage, » in this brilliant episode written by SOKO Leipzig scribes Markus Hoffmann (SK Kölsch, Alarm für Cobra 11) and Uwe Kossmann, and directed by Robert Del Maestro. Del Maestro worked on several SOKO Leipzig since Entführung in London/Proof of life and is undoubtedly the ideal director for this reunion.
Past the oddity of hearing Simon Rouse dubbed in German with an English accent, the actor is excellent and shares great scenes with a thespian of Andreas Schmidt-Schaller's caliber. Jack Meadows fits naturally in the "Krimi" atmosphere, and retirement suits him well enough to believe that he would deserve his own special as a private investigator. The music is composed by Andreas Hoge and the cinematography is by Christian Paschmann and Gareth Hughes. SOKO Leipzig: Die schwarze Witwe is produced by UFA Fernsehproduktion Niederlassung Leipzig and Norbert Sauer for ZDF and ZDF Enterprises. Henriette Lippold, Norbert Sauer and Jörg Winger are the producers.
(1) From 1994 to 2006, German private channel RTL even aired a local adaptation of The Bill called Die Wache.