Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lend their voices to ‘Comrade Detective,’ a dubbed cop comedy series on Amazon. It’s clear from their off-screen chemistry that they don’t need to be on screen to make magic.
On so many levels, Comrade Detective is not what it appears to be.
In essence, it’s a Communist propaganda message wrapped in a macho buddy-cop drama wrapped in an ‘80s period piece.
If that’s not confusing enough, the biggest names – Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jenny Slate, Chloe Sevigny and Mahershala Ali – are off-screen, dubbing the voices of the Romanian actors starring in the six-episode Amazon Prime series, due Friday.
And the pretense that this is an archival Romanian TV series is fake: It was shot quite recently. Lots to absorb? That’s OK. It even gives the stars pause.
“When people hear, ‘Oh, we went and made a Romanian cop show,’ they’re like, ‘What? I don’t understand what that even is,’ ” says Tatum, an executive producer who dubbed the voice of the rule-breaking lead detective.
Comrade’s producers were inspired by Woody Allen’s 1966 directorial debut, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, in which he dubbed a Japanese spy film to make it seem like a search for an egg-salad recipe.
However, they couldn’t get the rights to a real state-produced propaganda series of the era, such as Czechoslovakia’s 30 Cases of Major Zeman, says Brian Gatewood, who created the series with Alessandro Tanaka.
“The conversation turned to: ‘What if we made our own show and dubbed it?’ ” he says. So they filmed the series in Bucharest, with Romanian actors Florin Piersic Jr. and Corneliu Ulici playing the cops.
Tatum hopes Comrade’s uniqueness will help it stand out in a crowded TV market. “It’s like nothing on any of the platforms or TV networks. It’s really so different. You need something that’s going to cut through the noise.”
Gordon-Levitt, who voices the new partner to Tatum’s jaded, violent cop, calls Comrade…