Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin

I know, I know, this is the fourth missive today. You think I’m not worried about overloading you? But this has been one of those hellish weeks of obligations and today I’m free because I was planning to sit in a chair all day for an IVIG infusion, tomorrow and Sunday too, but it took too long for insurance to approve it, assuming they ultimately approve it at all. So I’m planning on next weekend, we’ll see.

As for my skin…

It’s much better than it was. But I’m starting to get some new skin rips so the dermatologist said on Monday to get said IVIG and another Rituxan infusion in May. It’s going in the right direction, but I’m still taking the prednisone. Got down to 12.5 mg and…

I’ve just about had it. These damn pills not only make you whacked, they give you the munchies, at least that’s what the cardiologist said. So the dermatologist said to go down to 10 and if that works, after a week go to 7.5, but beware of crashing.


Oh yes I did.

She was listing the potential symptoms. Balance issues, dizziness. I’d felt some of those, but didn’t want to admit it, I wanted to get off the damn pills. But Tuesday night watching “Babylon Berlin” on my iPad, I started to feel weird. Off. In bed too. You know, like if you weren’t really tired you’d like to commit suicide.

And then Wednesday…

I was driving to the cardiologist, not because I’m dying, but because she’s an expert and money will buy you the ability to live, and I’m beginning to peak and freak, am I really going to be able to hold on all day? Worried about this I packed a 2.5 mg prednisone pill in my pocket and took it in the bathroom when I arrived at the doctor and that took the edge off, but I’m wondering if I can ever get off. The dermatologist said I might have to see an endocrinologist, it’s endless I tell you, ENDLESS!

So “Babylon Berlin” is the most expensive non-English TV series ever. Sixteen episodes for $40 million. And it looks it. All that money is up on the screen. Almost makes you want to see it on the big screen, i.e. the theatre. As for all the e-mail I’ll get for watching it on my iPad, and I will, society is filled with people telling you you’re doing it wrong, oh, at first I watched it on the flat panel, but long after dark Felice is asleep and the noise…

So watching this I wanted to jet back to that era, 1929 Germany. Oh, I know, it wasn’t good for the Jews, and to tell you the truth I’d be dead, with my CML and pemphigus, but it was so intriguing, in the days before not only mobile phones but TV and so much more. As in, you were on your own and could get away with things. Now you don’t want to commit any offense, there’s a camera everywhere. Just watch these crime dramas on television, they always go to the tape.

And the whole family, multiple generations, is living in one apartment. And there’s squalor and lack of work but despite being so depressed and downtrodden everybody’s fully alive. Living by their wits. Imagine a world where no one’s looking at a screen, and fighting for survival.

So Charlotte is a prostitute at night and a wannabe sleuth during the day. She needs the money, that’s why she sacrifices her body, after dancing in a way that makes sixties movements look tame, and the investigatory life inspires her, we all need something to live for.

Not that you can figure this out right away. “Babylon Berlin” is one of those shows where you cannot tell what’s going on. Turns out it’s intentional. You don’t know why they’re stealing the train at the beginning until almost the very end. But by then you’re hooked. The more you watch, the more you like it.

And there are too many loose ends, and too many questions.


You enter an alternative universe and you can’t wait to sink back into it every night.

Liv Lisa Fries is the breakout star here. She treads the line between cute and beautiful and with her voluminous hair and pluck you cannot take your eyes off her. She far eclipses Jennifer Lawrence. Watch out for her. And her name is “Charlotte,” and oftentimes they call her “Lotte,” and now I know where that name comes from, I always wondered, like “Lotte Lenya,” you pronounce the “e” at the end, unlike in English.

And you keep wondering why the vice detective is slurping drugs.

And the hated policeman is a Jew, but then how did he get this gig?

It’s 1929, before Hitler, and there’s a fight between…

You almost believe these people are living in that era, that’s how well done this series is. You’d be stunned to see them in regular life.

I’d love to go into the plot but I don’t want to ruin it for you.

I’d love to watch it again, but I don’t do that, like Pauline Kael I only see something once, especially in a world where there’s so much else to see. I focus on plot, story, I want to know what happens, and once I do…

But there’s this death scene… You think you know what happened, and then you don’t, spectacularly done, one of the best in visual media.


I can’t exactly recommend “Babylon Berlin.” Some of you will turn it off immediately, some will wonder where it’s going.

But others will be entranced.

By a whole world where it’s not about a happy ending so much as telling you how it really went down.

If you can handle the truth.

P.S. Watch the show with subtitles, the dubbing is just too disorienting. Go into your Netflix settings, it’s easy.

P.P.S. When Bryan Ferry sings in the club your jaw will drop. It’s like all his solo records come alive. He was always a man from another era, THIS ONE!

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