You Startle Awake. A Cop Show Is Streaming. Where Exactly Are You?

(Suspenseful music plays)

You awake. On the screen, police detectives are standing over a crumpled corpse. They are speaking in badly dubbed English. Name the country.Both detectives wear skinny jeans, leather jackets and tee-shirts. Both carry handguns on their hip. They are ex-lovers who can’t stand each other. They trade insults but their eyes betray a smoldering desire for physical release.    In this country, this pair is allowed to bust into a home and kick down the door if they are hot on the trail of an illegal existential philosophy, an 800-year-old Cathar curse, a cache of stale baguettes, or a bathtub of home-fermented rosé wine. Still, before applying the foot, one detective holds up her ID wallet to a face peeking out of the upstairs curtains. The person in the window always gives them the finger. So they draw their Sig Sauers, grip flashlights in the other hand, and kick the door in, going from room to room yelling “Argh”    

C’est la France

In another country, a detective is allowed to live at home with mother, drink wine at a mandatory two-hour lunch, wear Armani suits, date any of the good-looking suspects, and, if a rugged detective, ride a motorcycle to any crime scene. The sidearm is always stuffed into the back of the pants, very dangerous if you are using a Glock without a safety and your motorcycle hits a speed bump.    In the field, the detective brings along a partner, a lower level Carabinieri (which translates to cabinet maker), who does all of the grunt work.    Here, they seldom kick the door down. The homeowners seem to hate them so much they refuse to come downstairs to answer the door. The detective is wearing expensive Italian shoes so he shrugs and retreats to a nearby café to begin a second two-hour lunch.    

Si. You are in Italy.

The cops here are dressed in cardinal red capes with matching beanies.    In the field, these detectives don’t have to kick doors down. Instead, one raises his ID to the person on the second floor window and yells:    “Bless you my child. I am Detective Cardinal Holyhead, and this is Sister Inspector Justicia. We are here with a heavenly army of militant archangels to batter down your door because you’ve been caught on surveillance video committing a mortal sin.”    When the suspect peeking out the window dumps a chamber pot on them, they call down a divine thunderbolt that strikes the door, smashing it open.     

This can only happen in Vatican City

In another Mediterranean country, during the past 20 years, there have been so few crimes that the police force of 50 hasn’t ever kicked down a door. However, they get to wear spiffy uniforms that look like a college marching band, and indulge in a two-hour lunch before doing a second round of handing out parking tickets to tourists, which is their only job. Often, in the afternoon, they might go to a training session at a utility shed behind the police station, where they practice kicking the outside door down in case there was ever a crime in their tiny country.    

If you guessed San Marino, you are right.

The detective here is a lone wolf. He drinks endless cups of coffee and is tortured by angst. His family despises him. The office staff snubs him. The detective never travels on city streets but always drives across lonely fields on bleak winter days, arriving at out of town warehouses where motorcycle gangs on Harleys tell him to fuck off.      At a suspect’s front porch, our lone detective holds up an ID. The criminals in the house ignore him because they are all busy enjoying a sauna. Here, our detective doesn’t bother to kick the door down. This country’s doors are very substantial and another failure would amp up his angst. Instead, he stops at a bar and has a coffee.    

Ja. Has to be Sweden.

In this country, the detective team includes the DCI or Detective Chief Invincible whose job is to ponder, ponder, and ponder, and a much younger assistant, a DS (Detective Servant) who chases suspects through manicured garden mazes, clambers in through casement windows, or goes undercover to infiltrate a whacked-out tribe of druids.     Much of the crime solving is done in pubs, where our DCI is lubricated with ale or whiskey. The DS opts for a glass of OJ.    No one has to kick the door down. The heavily-armed criminals are extremely polite and always invite the detectives in, saying “Go through,” after inquiring if they would like a cup of tea and a scone.    In an interesting twist, the DCI and DS don’t carry sidearms. Thereafter, when the demented criminals pull out the tasers and machine pistols, our DCI ultimately conquers them with chatter and well-scripted reason.    

Yes, you’re in England.

Everyone in this country is portrayed as spooky, and somehow involved in smuggling diamonds in their beloved baked dough street food called simit. If detective Omar can tear himself away from various steamy affairs, he’ll ride his motorcycle through the central spice bazaar and then up-and-down crowded sidewalk stairs, until he catches the gang with the diamonds.    The bad guys are always from Kazakhstan, primarily because no one can spell the name. Also, the Kazakhstanis beat the home country in the last World Cup regionals.    

Evet. If you guessed Turkey, you are right on.

With reggae music as background and palm trees as visuals, the top dog detective here is formal in a tie while his female assistant wears shorts and a tee-shirt. They work out of a police station wide open to muggy humidity that never seems to bother anyone. Apparently, they cannot afford A/C.    No one carries a gun. There are apparently no guns anywhere. The police confront criminals by throwing coconuts at them.    The locals are suspicious. When the police squad arrives to kick down the door, there is a great lack of doors to kick down. It is too muggy to be inside. Most every suspect is sprawled out in a rattan chair in the garden with his feet up drinking a beer and fanning themselves with the search warrant.    Yah mon. This is the Caribbean.    

In the end, we all want to go to this country instead of Sweden.

 John Hewitt is a California writer and aficionado of streaming crime shows.

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