A guide to writing an Alarm für Cobra 11 episode

BMW 330i
Since my campaign fund-raiser on the 15th, I’ve had to take a back seat from blogging, though there is a lot to discuss about work, our city and other matters. And I would get back in to serious mode but for a nasty stomach bug that has kept me down—and taken away a bit of brain power.
   Till then, I feel compelled to write a non-sensical post, one that requires a little more energy than the images I have been sticking up on Tumblr.
   Though you have come to expect greater analysis from me on this blog.
   Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, and especially to the German waitress at Elements in Lyall Bay who believes Alarm für Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei is the worst show on her home country’s telly, I present my guide to writing an episode.
   This is not my dissing the show. I love the fact there is a formula, and apparently so do a lot of Germans, which explains why it’s been on since 1996 and is sold in over two dozen countries. About the only major language it is not dubbed in to is English, yet it surpasses most actioners made in the Anglosphere. As a matter of fact, I dislike it when they depart from the formula because it’s become a comfortable old friend since I began watching the show in the early 2000s (and have had to catch up on the 1990s’ ones). If I don’t get my three car chases per episode, I get moody.
   In episodes where they focus on a particular character, then put his or her name in instead of ‘Semir and Ben’.
   I have used the word ‘Ben’ for Semir’s sidekick below to remain current, though if you look back, these comments could apply to André, Jan, Tom and Chris. I never saw the first two with Ingo and Frank. Susanne could be Andrea in earlier episodes; Kim could be Anna or Katharina.

Semir and Ben are chilling out / driving / at a roadside shop / getting petrol / getting food
Semir and Ben witness a murder / are overtaken by crooks / receive an emergency call / see something unusual
Semir and Ben give chase
Crooks kill someone / destroy an innocent party’s car
Semir and Ben have to stop due to crashed cars / crashing their own car / rendering assistance to motorists / someone having been injured or killed
Crooks get away

Opening titles: Ihr Revier ist die Autobahn, etc.
Squad investigates clue left behind / murder victim / number plate
Kim briefs Semir and Ben / Susanne perves at Ben (or, in earlier episodes, Andrea is concerned about Semir)
Semir and Ben follow the clue / get a call and get to the crooks’ first hideout / location of registered car / murder victim’s home
Crooks are there, covering up / hiding / stealing stuff
Semir and Ben / Dieter and Hotte give chase in town / on the Autobahn
Semir and Ben / Dieter and Hotte lose the crooks in a funny way / in a serious way / in a way that involves someone flipping the bird
At the scene, Semir and Ben / Dieter and Hotte find more clues from the crooks / from the victim
Hartmut analyses the clues
At the station, Kim, Semir and Ben figure out what the crooks / the victim were / was planning
Susanne figures out where the crooks / the victim were / was planning their / his / her robbery / conspiracy / releasing a bomb / releasing chemicals / kidnapping / other crime
Crooks are carrying out their plan
Semir and Ben rush there
Crooks get in to their vehicle(s) and head to the Autobahn / country lane / forest
Semir and Ben give chase by car together / are separated and one takes a car and the other takes a helicopter / motorcycle / jeep / truck / horse / jumps on to the crooks’ remaining vehicle to have a fight
Semir and Ben catch the crooks
Kim / Dieter and Hotte are / are not there and Ben gets / does not get a snog
Semir and Ben make some funny comments regardless of who is there

End credits

   To those friends in Germany who have seen more episodes than I have, is this about right?

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10 thoughts on “A guide to writing an Alarm für Cobra 11 episode

  1. Jack, I still admire your dedication to Cobra 11, you are probably their biggest fan! How do you watch it, anyway? Live streaming I guess?

    Greetings from Vancouver!

  2. Hey Katja: you can watch episodes on RTL-now.de. During the week of broadcast, it’s free. You can also pay €1 to be a week ahead.

  3. I’ve only just discovered Alarm Fur Cobra 11 in all its cheesy and yet heartfelt and occasionally angsty glory! I loved your analysis of how to write an episode. There’s gotta be a word for recognising that something is lowbrow but loving it unashamedly anyway, right? Well that’s how I feel about Cobra 11.

  4. I had heard that Cobra 11 had started airing there on SBS2. Australia’s the only place in the world where it has English subtitles.
       I’m like you: I know it’s low-brow but it’s great fun! You’ll find the Tom Beck episodes that SBS2 is up to presently are the cheesiest of the lot, but they are really enjoyable. I’ve learned all these new German words like fifty-fifty, Handy and Society-Girl!

  5. I’ve discovered that in my quest for more episodes, since SBS doesn’t look to have any more coming up in the next little while. The one advantage to no more English-subtitled episodes is that it’s forcing me to revisit my early high school German lessons! Lots of fun! :)

  6. When the German season is on (not back till September), you can watch them at RTL Now (http://rtl-now.rtl.de/alarm-fuer-cobra-11.php) for free. The only problem: Australia was up to 2007, last I looked, so in the ones in Germany, Ben Jäger has left. Semir, of course, is still in them—I think he’ll stay till they cancel the show!
       I never learned German but I read a lot of car magazines, so I know their motoring terms. Karl Urban was a classmate so thanks to him I know ‘Ach du Scheiße!’
       If you want to get more news, there is a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/autobahnpolizei/ which I run along with a few friends, and none of us are German! (It’s ironic since it’s the biggest non-official Facebook group for the series.)

  7. Ooh, this is good to know, thank you! I worked out that RTL-now showed recent episodes for a week for free, but couldn’t find any. This explains it! In the meantime, I’ve been buying one episode at a time :)

    Very fun that you went to school with Karl Urban — and I love that Scheiße is pretty much everyone’s first German word. Haha!

    Okay, heading off to join your Facebook group. Thanks for all your help!

  8. You are as big a fan as me!
       I’ve approved you in the Facebook group queue. When I get some time, I’ll post some stuff from earlier seasons so you can get a feel for what has passed.
       I usually post photos from the upcoming episodes, links and videos between the half-seasons. Most of the posters are German speakers but it sounds like you won’t have trouble with that!

  9. I just found and read this. And it is so funny but it’s exactly the way it is and i think it’s one reason for me to warch and love the show.
    Greetings from Germany, the home of Alarm für Cobra 11

  10. Hi Edda: nice to see you here! This is how I explain the series in person as well (people always ask me about this show).

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