Do it, but do it well

Although it might look like ABC’s drama soap Revenge is set in the Hamptons and New York City, it’s actually filmed nowhere near the Big Apple – instead, all the city scenes are produced in downtown Los Angeles. Usually, this isn’t a big problem, since most of the show is filmed in a studio environment anyway and the outdoor scenes could be located more or less anywhere. If in doubt, just add some NYC cabs and drop the name of some hipster deli and you’re good to go.

Or so I thought. In episode 17 of the current fourth season of the show, there’s a scene with Margeaux and EmilyAmanda set in a busy NYC street. Margeaux is entering the scene through a door that looks like it could lead to a subway station – in this case, Fulton Street, which is located close to Wall Street. Makes perfect sense for Margeaux to be there, since it’s only logical her company’s office is located in that area. There’s a NYC cab waiting outside as well. Looks perfectly innocent, right?

Picture (c) ABC

Picture (c) ABC

Would I not already know that Revenge isn’t filmed in NYC, this could perhaps fooled me, but the picture above is just the end of a sweeping shot establishing the locale. This is the rest:

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

More NYC taxis, but also a storefront called Caravan Book Store. If you search for it on Google, you’ll quickly find out that it’s a real store and that it’s located on 550 S Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Google Streetview is just one click away:

Image (c) Google

Image (c) Google

This is where the scene was shot – the door Margeaux emerges from is really the door to the Water Grill restaurant. They went through some trouble to transform the restaurant’s sign and the sign next to the door to establish location just to blow it all by not covering up the damn bookstore? Seriously, guys, that’s basically the definition of “half-assed” …

Bonus continuity error! In the same scene, Margeaux stands with her back towards the street while talking to EmilyAmanda. First, a suburban passes by in the background …

Image (c) ABC

… followed by two smaller cars …

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

… and the same suburban again. Oops.

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

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Suddenly, Nazis

It’s always the same: as soon as (usually American) script writers run out of ideas, they add something about Nazis, usually set either in Germany or at least with some lines of German. If you aren’t German, well, you’ll likely not notice anything suspicious. If you are German, however, this often enough becomes an absolute riot and makes the whole thing so much more entertaining. That’s exactly what happened on the two most recent episodes of The Blacklist, a show I enjoy mostly for James Spader and less for the ridiculous story.

It started in episode 14 of the current second season. When Tom Keen – who isn’t dead despite being left for dead twice already – gets asked how his German is, I instantly knew this would become great, campy fun. Apparently, Tom is supposed to go to Dresden and infiltrate a gang of neo-nazis. Well, at least Dresden certainly has an abundance of neo-nazis, so that’s quite realistic. For this job he has to prepare.

First, put on German music, in this case “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling. It’s a track from the 80s and not related to Nazis in any way, but I guess the writer did like the play on the protagonist’s name.

Second, shave your hair:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Sexy.

Third, get inked while smoking and chilling to the haunting tunes of Major Tom.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The SS symbol is VERBOTEN in Germany and will get you arrested if the cops notice it. Well done, Mr. Keen, this should look convincing! Unless anyone bothers to check out his other tattoo …

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The SS logo on the right is mirrored, but that’s not what I’m getting at. You see, the neo-nazis use the slogan “Deutschland den Deutschen” to protest against foreigners in Germany. Translated into English, this would … ah, let’s do a little experiment, shall we.

  1. Go to Google Translator.
  2. Enter “Deutschland den Deutschen” into the left hand field, put it to “detect language”
  3. Put the output language to English
  4. Voilá, we get “Germany for the Germans”
  5. Now, reverse it …
  6. Aha, “Deutschland für die Deutschen”!

Funny how it works sometimes. With a tattoo like that, (Major) Tom would be discovered quite quickly. Hell, he’d be likely arrested on the spot when trying to enter Germany.

Fourth, he needs a passport:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

As you might have noticed, there are a few … problems … with this passport. Let me break them down to you:

  1. on EU passports, the photographs aren’t glued on, they are embedded into the passport and cannot be replaced without destroying the whole thing
  2. the color and background suggests its a passport from Poland, not Germany, but all text is in German – on a Polish passport, the main language would be Polish, of course. German passports are greenish and bear the “Bundesadler”.
  3. Tom Keen … sorry, Mr. Mannheim … is born on April 26th, 1979. Now while dates in the EU would be written either as 1979-04-26 or 26.04.1979 or 26/04/1979, the passport issue and renew before date are wrong as well. Unless Mr. Mannheim got his passport on his birthday in 1999, of course, but even then, the renew before date would be 2009, not 2019, since EU passports for ages 24 and up have to be renewed every 10 years.
  4. This is hard to read on the screen cap, but they managed to write “Unterschrift des Bearer” (Bearer’s signature) instead of “Unterschrift des Ausweisinhabers”. Any customs or police officer would spot that in an instant because the word’s length doesn’t match and it makes no fricking sense.
  5. Another obvious error: the number should be 790426 as its derived from Mr. Mannheim’s birthday.
  6. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, the personal card of modern EU passports don’t bend because they are made from plastic instead of paper.

The main question, however, is – why does Tom Keen have a Polish passport if he’s supposed to be German? Why does his birthplace sound Polish? Given the history between Poland and Germany during WW2, wouldn’t that kind of detail make people suspicious?

Oh, and before I forget – in Germany, you don’t use your passport to identify yourself, you use your ID card. The passport is only for travel outside of the EU. It would be rather suspicious to a German police officer would you identify yourself with your passport, which by the way is called “Reisepass” in German – “travel passport”.

So, Tom Keen is no more. Born from his ashes is Christof Mannheim the neo-nazi. He arrives in Dresden, Germany, and quickly finds new friends:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Honestly? They just look like bikers to me. Here’s a picture of real neo-nazis demonstrating in Germany:

Image (c) taz.de

Image (c) taz.de

Hrm. Okay, this might be me nitpicking more than usual, but …

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

… oh look, ZZ Top is there as well!

Oddly enough, they are not just drinking while listening to cliché metal music, oh no – they are playing games! What games, you might ask? Manly stuff like arm wrestling maybe? Or illegal nazi fist fights? Ah, you’ll be sorely disappointed:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

They are trying to drive nails into wood with one strike of a hammer. For cold, hard Euro no less. What kind of Kindergarten nazis are they? Do they have rug time? I loved rug time!

Anyway, Tom Christof quickly does the one thing I’d never do among an illegal group of hooligans – he introduces himself. His name is Christof. “Fair enough”, you say, “his name is Christof, so why not tell them?” Because he’s not content telling them his first name:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Might as well wave his fake passport around. Why would he tell them his last name, so every undercover cop in Dresden is aware of him? Great start there, Tom Christof.

Did I mention they all speak terrible German? None of them would pass for being German with that kind of mangled grammar, the pronunciation is way off, and they all sound like they have to try really hard to utter one coherent sentence. Shouldn’t be hard and/or expensive to find a few people in New York City who speak better German than these tools.

Onto the next episode, 2×15. The relevant segment of the episode starts like this:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

This could really be anywhere, so the subtitle is a nice idea to establish location. The security camera (top right) makes me wonder why neo-nazis would party there, but hey, maybe their Bier got stolen once too many.

Anyway, the scene is set to a Rammstein song I can’t identify because I don’t really listen to Rammstein – but neither would neo-nazis as they tend to enjoy music way worse than that. But it has German lyrics so it fits, right?

The Nazis are discussing their weapon procurement issues and in that context, they mention they don’t want to cross borders because that could spell trouble. That doesn’t seem to concern Tom Christof who quickly suggests he knows a guy in Salzburg – which is in Austria, across borders. No wonder his idea gets axed quickly, but that doesn’t get him closer to winning the Nazi’s trust, so he has to devise a different approach: he’s going to kill their arms dealer and bring in his own to save the day. Genius!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Here are the arms dealers dealing arms. Again, this could be absolutely anywhere, so this picture is just there for your enjoyment. But look, they must be in Germany because they are driving a BMW!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

However, with a license plate like that they are just inviting the cops because that’s not a German license plate, that’s just nonsense. This is how a real license plate from Dresden, Germany looks like:

(c) olavsplates.com

(c) olavsplates.com

Also, while the BMW is a German car – but they do have foreign cars in Germany, in case you are wondering – the model they use is the US version of the 528i xDrive. You can clearly see the car has space for the differently shaped number plates used in the US, as opposed to the German version which looks like this:

(c) auto-news.de

(c) auto-news.de

If that wasn’t enough proof, the next street scene shows yet another car with bogus Dresden plates, and from the small white stripe underneath the plate you can see its yet another US version. Also, the pickup truck in the center background proudly sports US plates just for the heck of it.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Tom Christof shoots the driver and flees the scene on his bike, leaving the driver-less car careen into the next wall. The entire scene doesn’t look like it could be set in Dresden to anyone who was even remotely near Dresden in the last decade, but you can’t blame them for trying. Look, there even is Bernds Brauhaus (brewing house, usually a place to drink freshly brewed beer) in the background, because as anyone knows, these things are like Starbucks in Germany – literally everywhere. And look, the building is “ZU VERMIETEN” (to let) as well! Looks legit!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

What’s with the red arrow, you ask? Oh, that … I wonder what “Aperture” means and why it would be written across the facade of a Brauhaus in Dresden?

Image (c) Google

Image (c) Google

Oh, it’s the Aperture Foundation located at 550 W 27th Street in New York City? Huh, someone must have mixed up the footage there. Whoops!

And let’s just take a look where the car ended up after the driver died:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Right in front of a delivery truck covered in German graffito, if anyone still had any doubts about the location.