Tomáš Kozák sits behind the table from where the orders are handed out. Where his boss used to cut apples and didn’t stop much. Now the former excellent investigator is in his shoes. At the same time, the third series of Cases of the 1st Department, which has been broadcast on Czech TV since Monday evening, is again mainly devoted to what made this crime series famous. A thorough investigation.
Already in 2014, when it premiered, it gained popularity thanks to its realism. While local TV stations were beginning to think about whether and how to imitate dark Nordic detective stories, the cases of the Prague murder party did not look for mysteries and occult crimes, but stuck to what is actually being investigated in the Czech Republic.
Co-author of the screenplay and former head of the homicide department of the Prague police, Josef Mareš, contributed with a detailed depiction of the procedural actions of criminal investigators and the relations between them after the revolution.
In particular, the second side was even more accentuated by this year’s serial hit, Devadesátky, which harkened back to the polytrack beginnings of this criminal party. A similar production team filmed one of the biggest serial blockbusters of all time, and over two million viewers watched every week in January and February this year how the creators managed to capture the era of funny jackets and hairstyles, but also how the detectives fall into various temptations after 1989 and that it is not easy stay squarely on the right side of the law.
Now, even more attention is being paid to new stories from the time when police officers no longer fight so much with organized crime, but rather deal with individual, quite “ordinary” cases. In the fourth episode, which journalists were able to see in advance, a woman of Vietnamese origin gets into a car, starts and an explosion follows, which shakes the nearby houses. In the end, however, it is a relatively mundane piece focused primarily on the relationships between criminal investigators and how they proceed during investigations.
Modern technology becomes the enemy for many heroes, and Ondřej Vetchý in the role of Tomáš Kozák quite authentically shows that he is not a friend of cell phones or Zoom meetings. The results are excellent, the clarity of the cases could not be better. And so, instead of hours spent in the office, he goes to Karel Šíp’s popular talk show, for example. Where he turns himself into a juda, who, rather than a capable investigator, resembles the character Vetchý played in the District Championship. He is the “captain” of the team, but at the same time a bit of a naive and unintelligent striver. These are the moments where it crunches the most in the new episodes.
The series continues to be the best in how it portrays individual cases. These often fall into the category of “home killers”, instead of looking for shocking or bloody moments, it is about capturing small steps and psychological tricks that criminal officers play with suspects or accused persons.
A new episode of the third season of Cases of the 1st Department is broadcast by ČT1 every Monday. | Video: Czech Television
A young colleague, played by the talented Barbora Bočková, joins the team, and the creators, joined by the ambitious Michal Blaško in the directorial position alongside Peter Bebjak, try to touch not only on modern technologies, but also on contemporary topics. “Old-school” detectives tread carefully about how to communicate with the public about things related to homosexuality, or deal with the position of a woman in the team.
These are the moments when the series sometimes maneuvers on the edge, betting on somewhat clumsy jokes, for example. The main problem, however, is how Ondřej Vetchý portrays his character.
The filmmakers do want to capture that it is not easy to get to where Tomáš Kozák used to see his superiors as they were already serving their time. And now he puts on these shoes himself and finds that they sometimes rub against him. In some places, however, it is not clear whether the hero is really supposed to be such a caricature of himself, or if it is just the fault of exaggerated acting.
In the District Championship, such a concept was part of the concept. But here Tomáš Kozák is at times a capable and sharp criminal, at other times he gets angry and seems as unintelligent as a child. Especially after the civil manner in which Kryštof Bartoš portrayed the novice Cossack in the 1990s, it is a strongly disturbing element in the first episodes of the new Cases of the 1st Department.
Even so, the positives prevail for now. And the very “distribution of forces” in the team will probably continue to be a topic, because the former boss Miroslav Hanuš, who did not like serving on the presidium, will soon return. He suddenly finds himself in the role of a subordinate, to whom Kozák does not want to entrust the easiest task. And so he continues peeling and slicing apples, but here and there he shakes out an important memory that will guide his junior colleagues on the right track.
They are simple script games, but they actually work as an attempt to show certain stereotypes in a more complex light. Criminology is often seen as a burnout profession, where people wait for their pension to retire and get off their backs. And the creators of the series try to show how, in this regard, first appearances can be deceiving. How easily the star of the team can become an annoying official, but also vice versa.
Juraj Loj as Jiří Netík, Barbora Bočková as Adéla Čulíková and Ondřej Vetchý as Tomáš Kozák. | Photo: Zuzana Páchová
We will see how the dynamics in the mordpart will continue to work. It’s still a series that can’t do enough with the portrayal of the characters or the atmosphere. He pays close attention to the ant aspects of police work. Thanks to her, there is no need to solve cases by chance, as is an unfortunate habit in Czech detective stories.
Here, the protagonists’ abilities are still at their best, even though they are often not the best partners with whom one would want to spend an evening at a bar.
Cases 1. department III
Directed by: Peter Bebjak and Michal Blaško
ČT1 broadcasts a new episode of the third season every Monday.