Tuesday, 3 April 2018


[Spoiler-Free] Why is Josef Matula with a forehead injury and pursued by men who look like hunters? Wasn't he supposed to be on holidays in Italy with his dog Renz?

Following the success of Matula - Wer Wind Sät last easter, Claus Theo Gärtner returns on ZDF as private detective Matula in a new 90-minute film.

The bottom line: Legends don't retire.

Claus Theo Gärtner (born in 1943) first portrayed the street-smart, working-class Hermann Josef Matula in Ein Fall für Zwei ("A case for two"). The long-running series, created by Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willshrei for Galmon Film (later Odeon Film), was about a private investigator and a defense attorney who solve crimes in Frankfurt am Main. Matula was 31 when it started on pubcaster ZDF in 1981. When his partnership with Dr. Dieter Renz (Günther Strack) ended in 1988, the character teamed up with three other lawyers: Dr. Rainer Frank (Rainer Hunold, 1988-1997), Dr. Johannes Voss (Mathias Hermann, 1997-2000) and Dr. Markus Lessing (Paul Frielinghaus, 2001-2013).

In autumn 2011, Gärtner expressed his desire to leave after 30 years. The duo Matula-Lessing bowed out with the 300th episode in March 2013. Surprisingly, ZDF decided to revamp Ein Fall für Zwei around attorney Benjamin "Benni" Hornberg (Antoine Monot, Jr.) and p.i. Leo Oswald (Wanja Hues). With the same title but minus the famous theme composed by the great Klaus Doldinger (The Neverending Story, Das Boot, Tatort), the new version debuted in May 2014. Claus Theo Gärtner even had a cameo in a 2015 episode. Last year, the legend returned in his own 90-minute special, Matula (aka Matula - Wer Wind sät), written by Ben Braeunlich and directed by Thorsten Näter.

5.26m viewers (16.8%) watched this brilliant comeback TV movie, aired by ZDF on Good Friday. Hence the commission of Matula - Des Schatten des Berges, an equally brilliant new case from the same writer and helmer. Josef Matula travels to Italy with Renz, his dog named after his first lawyer partner. They're in the Allgäu Alps when his Volkswagen minibus breaks down close to a winter sports resort. Josef stay with Renz at a guest house during the repair of his vehicle. At the inn, he witnesses an altercation between Martin Wiesner, the butcher, and businessman/mayor Peter Otting. Later, Matula walks near the mountain when he finds the body of Wiesner.

The local police concludes it was an accident. The detective disagrees and leads his own investigation against the villagers. Though clearly classic, the plot has all the ingredients that Ben Braeunlich successfully used in the previous film, starting with an appropriate sense of self-derision. Claus Theo Gärtner is masterful as the underdog old school private detective who still has resources. Director Thorsten Näter and cinematographer Joachim Hasse know how to take advantage of the gorgeous locations. The guest cast is perfect and it's quite moving to see the great Hans-Michael Rehberg (who plays Father Bornholt) in one of his final roles for television (1).

Also starring Frederick Linkemann (Valentin Leipold), Harald Windisch (Janosch Grebe), Marlene Morreis (Nora Wiesner), Martin Feifel (Peter Otting), Ferdinand Dörfler (Stefan Kleber), Joachim Raaf (Ludwig Berger), Eisi Gulp (Cyclist), etc. Matula - Des Schatten des Berges is produced by Odeon TV (for ZDF and Austria's ORF). Anette Kaufmann and Klaus Laudi are the producers. Peter Nawrotzki exec produces. Andrea Wetzel is the line producer. The excellent music was composed by Axel Donner. The real name of Matula's (fabulous) dog is Mumford and he's trained by Charlott Arzberger. Aired on this year's Good Friday, Matula - Des Schatten des Berges attracted 5.09m viewers (16.7%).

(1) Hans-Michael Rehberg died in November 2017.

Review of Matula - Wer Wind sät:


See also:

Primetime-Check: Karfreitag, 30. März 2018 – Quotenmeter.de (Ratings)

[Update - May 27, 2019] 

Review of Matula - Matula - Tod auf Mallorca (Matula #3):


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