Wednesday, 13 September 2017


In the beautiful Black Forest region of West Germany, Professor Klaus Brinkmann runs the Schwarzwaldklinik, a prestigious private hospital.

The first half of the second series of Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik, 1985-1989), the German cult medical drama, is now available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as "La clinique de la Forêt-Noire - Saison 3".

Die Schwarzwaldklinik originated from an idea by TV producer Wolfgang Rademann, the creative force behind the lighthearted ZDF series Das Traumschiff ("The Dream Ship") for Polyphon Film- und Fernseh GmbH. This German answer to The Love Boat (1977-1986), which premiered in November 1981, still exists today. For two years Rademann tried to convince the channel to air something in the vein of the Czechoslovak medical drama Nemocnice na kraji mesta (1978-1981), shown in both East and West Germany under the title Das Krankenhaus am Rande der Stadt. Produced by Polyphon, Die Schwarzwaldklinik finally started filming during summer 1984 in the district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald.

Crime drama scriptwriter Herbert Lichtenfeld (Tatort) wrote all the episodes. Veteran movie and television director Alfred Vohrer helmed the 90-minute pilot (Die Heimkehr) and 11 episodes of the first series. His impressive filmography includes a long string of Edgar Wallace movies and some Winnetou films but also several episodes of producer Helmut Ringelmann's hits Derrick and Der Alte. Experienced TV helmer Hans-Jürgen Togel took over from Vohrer until the end of Die Schwarzwaldklinik in 1989. Launched in October 1985, Die Schwarzwaldklinik quickly became highly popular and attracted up to 28 million viewers. The first series ended during Winter 1986 but German viewers had to wait until October of the following year for new episodes.

Pr. Klaus Brinkmann (Klausjürgen Wussow) is at rest since his infarct. He'd like to return to work, contrary to the opinion of his son Udo (Sascha Hehn) and there's some tension between him and his wife Christa (Gaby Dohm). Klaus goes to San Francisco in order to see a heart specialist. In the plane, he meets a free-spirited and seductive German tourist named Maria Rottenburg. Dr. Vollmers (Christian Kohlund) says goodbye to Christa before leaving for Africa. The womanizing Dr. Schübel (Volker Brandt) is overtaken by his personal issues. Struck by a tragedy, Udo Brinkmann join Vollmers and the German Red Cross in an African country torn by a civil war.

While the personnel of the Schwarzwaldklinik remains confronted with all sorts of patients and situations, the first half of this second series reshuffles the cards with some emotion, a bit of action and a handful of effective dialogue lines. It also borrows to the proven formula of Das Traumschiff with some episodes partly filmed abroad, in places like San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and Kenya. Anja Kruse (Claudia Schubert), Evelyn Hamann (Carsta Michaelis), Ilona Grübel (Katarina), Franz Rudnick (Dr. Wolter), Eva Maria Bauer (Head nurse Hildegard), Barbara Wussow (Klausjürgen Wussow's daughter) as Nurse Elke, Olivia Pascal (Carola) and Jochen Schroder as the sympathetic Nurse Mischa are amongst the other regulars.

Guest cast includes Hannelore Elsner (who later starred in Die Kommissarin) as Maria, Gustl Bayrhammer, Raimund Harmstorf (well known in France for Michel Strogoff) as Florian Brinkmann, and Lisa Kreuzer. Die Schwarzwaldklinik ended in March 1989 after 70 episodes (pilot included). Sold in 38 countries, the series was shown in France on M6 in 1987 as La clinique de la Forêt-Noire, and in the UK on Channel 4 (dubbed) in 1988 under the title Black Forest Clinic. The characters of Black Forest Clinic reappeared in a 1991 Christmas crossover between several ZDF series. In 2005, the German pubcaster aired a 20th birthday special titled Die Schwarzwaldklinik - Die nächste Generation. It was followed the same year by Die Schwarzwaldklinik - Neue Zeiten. Both TV movies were helmed by Hans-Jürgen Togel.

The exterior of the "Black Forest Clinic" is actually The Carlsbau, a building which houses a health clinic in Glottertal. The outside of the beautiful "Villa Brinkmann" is the Hüsli local history museum in Grafenhausen-Rothaus. Film and TV composer Martin Böttcher (the Winnetou movies) was initially hired for the music of Die Schwarzwaldklinik and wrote a main theme but he was replaced by Hans Hammerschmid, who composed the famous Hallo - Dr.B. and the rest of the soundtrack. Böttcher's theme served as the intro of ZDF's Forsthaus Falkenau (1988-2013). The song California Dream, heard in the episode Die Reise nach Amerika (the 90-minute second series opener) is performed by Jim Dawson. The four-disc DVD set of the first half of Series 2 is in French only.

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