Television in Deutschland

by Christina Geyer on March 29, 2007 · 20 comments

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So lately quite a few bloggers have been making helpful posts for the various people that arrive at their respective blogs through searches, and I’ve decided now to do the same. I get a fair number of hits from people looking for either English broadcasts on German television or American shows watched in Germany. So me and my handy TV Spielfilm XXL (one of the many tv guides available here, this one more movie-centric) will help to provide the answers (I hope my readers will lend a hand too, cause I’m sure I’ll miss something!).

As to English language television available here in Germany, it really depends on where you are located and in some places, the pickings are slim. But here’s a list of channels I’ve had in my various abodes:

  • CNN International – news, news, Larry King at 11am daily and Daily Show International Edition on weekends. The news mostly comes from their London studio, but sometimes they have The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper 360.
  • BBC World – during the week, has news and a few shows like Talking Movies (film reviews) and Click (technology show). The weekend usually has news headlines between documentaries and shows like Brainiac, Real Science, and Top Gear.
  • MTV Germany – some of the MTV US and UK shows are shown here undubbed with German subtitles, like Date My Mom, Real World, Pimp My Ride (US, UK, and International editions), Flavor of Love, Rob & Big, Ali G in da USA, Next, Parental Control, Made, Super Sweet Sixteen. I know, you’re saying, “I would never watch that crap,” but believe me, when you get desperate for English you’ll find yourself cheering on the parents on Parental Control. It also airs the following shows dubbed into German: DanceLife, Laguna Beach, Southpark, Family Guy, and American Dad.
  • VIVA – The German music channel, it plays basically the same videos as MTV Germany and airs shows like Americas Next Top Model, The Simple Life, Fabulous Life of…, and Girls of the Playboy Mansion. Often the announcer/voiceover is dubbed into German, but when the stars/interviewees/etc. speak, it is just subtitled.
  • Eurosport – Offers an English soundtrack in some areas (we only had it in Rostock). You would need a dual-tone (Zweikanalton) tv to be able to switch to the English track.
  • Arte – This is mainly a German/French channel, but I have (rarely) found English language movies and documentaries on. The English-language documentaries are unfortunately often skull-crushingly boring (how they managed this with a jazz age documentary I once saw, when I am a jazz fan, I don’t know).
  • Al Jazeera English TV – I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it too, but this is just another typical 24 hour news channel. We have it for the first time here in Bavaria.
  • Bible TV – I’m not sure if this is a real name, but we have a bunch of English language religious channels down here in Bavaria. I’ve never watched them, so I can’t say anything more on them.
  • CNBC Europe – Financial news. It shows The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brian in the evenings, and The McLaughlin Group and Meet the Press on Sundays. In many places however, the channel switches to broadcasting GIGA (video game news in German) sometime during the afternoon.
  • Then there is Premiere, a pay cable sender that requires a special receiver available at most electronics stores. In the Premiere Film package, you get a bunch of movie channels, (Premiere 1-4 and FilmFest have original soundtracks available for most newer movies), Premiere FilmFest sometimes shows English film documentaries (movie monsters, James Dean, Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando are a few examples), then Premiere Serie has television shows all day long. In primetime, they show newer American shows broadcast in English and German, such as Thief, Medium, Criminal Minds, Over There, Lost, The 4400, Deadwood, Invasion, Nip/Tuck, Brothers and Sisters, and Supernatural. They also previously have shown Desperate Housewives, The Sopranos, Rome and Six Feet Under and miniseries like Masters of Horror, Revelations and Empire Falls. There is also an MGM channel that broadcasts dual-tone classic movies and the Sci-Fi channel has a couple of dual-tone shows (Farscape, LEXX).

I think that’s it (please comment if there are any channels I’ve missed), so on to American shows that are broadcast in Germany. I’m just going to go through a week and list what’s showing, so anything that’s having a scheduling break will get missed.

  • RTL: CSI:Miami, Dr. House (House), Monk, Law & Order, CSI
  • ProSieben – Charmed reruns, Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Emergency Room (ER), Weeds, Scrubs, Malcolm mittendrin (Malcom in the Middle)
  • Kabel Eins – King of Queens, Bill Cosby Show, Roseanne, Eine schrecklich nette Familie (Married…with Children), Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Cold Case, Without a Trace, Star Trek: Das nächste Jahrhundert (ST:TNG), Xena, Relic Hunter, Sliders
  • RTL II – Alf, Immer wieder Jim (According to Jim), Hör mal, wer da hämmert (Home Improvement), Andromeda, Stargate, Yes, Dear, Invisible Man, Law & Order: New York (Special Victims Unit), Nash Bridges, Jeff Corwin, X-Factor, Oliver’s Twist (The Naked Chef), A-Team
  • VOX – CSI:NY, Criminal Intent (Law & Order: CI), The District, Dr. Quinn – Ärztin aus Leidenschaft (Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman), Gilmore Girls, The Closer, Boston Legal, Profiler
  • Premiere Serie stuff not offered in English (all reruns) – Akte X (X-Files), The Addams Family, Newlyweds, Moesha, Cheers, Cosby Show, Das Imperium – Die Colbys (this is Dallas or Knot’s Landing or something like that, isn’t it?), Baywatch Nights, Matlock, Roswell
  • Sci-Fi (pay tv – reruns) – 6 Mio. Dollar Man, Earth 2, Raumschiff Enterprise (Star Trek), PSI Factor, Spider-Man, Fantasy Island, 7 Mio. Dollar Frau (Bionic Woman, right?), Raumschiff Enterprise – Das nächste Jahrhundert (ST:TNG), Battlestar Galactica, Outer Limits, Invisible Man, ST: Deep Space Nine, Sliders
  • 13th Street (pay tv – reruns) – CSI:Miami, Quincy, T.J. Hooker, Knight Rider, Criminal Intent (Law & Order: CI), Kojak, Law & Order, Pretender, American Gothic

Whew! This is more work than I thought it would be. Okay, one final segment, if you like… , check out…

  • American Idol – Deutschland sucht den Superstar (on RTL)
  • Honey, We’re Killing the Kids – Besser Essen, Leben leicht gemacht (on ProSieben), and Liebling, wir bringen die Kinder um (on RTL2) – thanks Jul
  • Ugly Betty – Verliebt in Berlin (on Sat1)
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – Wer wird Millionär? (on RTL)
  • Big Brother – Big Brother (RTL II)
  • Wife Swap – Frauentausch (RTL II)
  • Today/Good Morning America – Morgenmagazin (Das Erste/ZDF) or Frühstücksfernsehen (SAT 1), there is also Volle Kanne (ZDF), but I don’t like it, I don’t want to watch people eating breakfast while they chat!
  • Access Hollywood/Entertainment Tonight – Explosiv-Das Star Magazin (RTL), blitz (SAT1) or taff (Pro 7)… in addition to entertainment news, the German shows have general interest news stories as well, like teen drinking, weight loss, smoking laws, etc.
  • America’s Next Top Model – Germany’s Next Top Model (with host Heidi Klum on Pro 7 – thanks Martina!)
  • before/after home improvement shows – Wohnen nach Wunsch (Vox) and I thought there was one called Einsatz in Vier Wänden, but I can’t find it in the TV Spielfilm (and thanks again Martina!)
  • The Office – try Stromberg (tip from Jul)

What else is there? I’m sure there’s more!

I’ve heard good things about Tatort (a detective show), but have never gotten into it. I’m addicted to Quiz Taxi (there’s an American version, but I hated it, I’ve been in a taxi, like, once in my 27 years living in the US, but in Germany I ride in taxis every once in a while). Any German shows you’d recommend?

And I hope this helps some of you searchers out there!

  • rita

    give tatort a chanc. watching it is worth it. but beware, there are some definite differneces in style and quality for the different tatorte. i really enjoyed köln and hamburg a lot when i still had telly. every once and a while i stumble across the relatively new one with jan josef liefers. can’t remember in which city/town it is set (could be münster), but it’s simply hillarious and quirky.

    sometimes münchen and berliln are great, too, but they have a tendency to be dead depressing.

    on the whole, watching tatort and *enjoying it* is the next step towards germanification. 😀

  • Christina

    @rita: I think I’m not quite that Germanified yet, but maybe it won’t be long! (I’m also picky about my detective shows, out of the US ones, I only liked Homicide and L&O:SVU).

  • Martina

    I used to love the Schimanski Tatorts, but haven’t been able to get into the “modern” ones either.

    I’m a big Lindenstrasse junkie – it’s the only show I absolutely won’t miss (Sunday 18.50 ARD)

    On your final segment, I think you’re forgetting Germany’s Next Top Model – surely it’s based on an American version?! And how about all those home improvement shows – do they have those in the U.S.?

  • Christina

    @martina: Some Lindenstrasse actors were on Das perfekte Promi-Dinner last weekend. It was entertaining. And I knew I’d forget some shows. I’ll go add them! Thanks!

  • Martina

    I know, being a Lindenstrasse-Fan I of course watched Das Perfekte Promi-Dinner when they were on :-)

  • Martina

    Here’s a question for anybody who’s watched American TV more recently than I have – which would be in the last century! You know all those Auswanderer shows that are so popular over here right now – do they have anything similar in the U.S.?

  • Christina

    @martina: That’s a good question! I was just wondering that the other day as well.

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  • Anonymous

    No Auswanderer shows here in LA, unfortunately. I think for the majority of Americans it’s still hard to imagine that people would leave here on purpose. America being the greatest country in the world and all. 😉

  • Jul

    There’s actually a Liebling, wir bringen die Kinder um on RTL2, which sounds like the equivalent of Honey we’re killing the kids. I’ve seen the German one (but not the US one) – they use computer aging technology to show the kids what fat, ugly slobs they are going to turn into. Charming.

    And Stromberg is sort of the German version of The Office.

  • Christina G

    @Jul: Thanks! The “Liebling…” one sounds exactly like the US one. They do the same thing there. And I’ll have to check out Stromberg!

  • cliff1976

    Quiz Taxi:

    Das ist…


    We really dig it.

  • ChristinaG

    @Cliff: Huh! I never got a notice that there was a new comment here. Anyways, I’m with you there. I’m always on the lookout for Renault Espace taxis.

  • Lynda

    Hi Christina – thought I should introduce myself – I am sort of a reverse expat – lived in Germany with my husband – then we were transfered a few times – have been in Australia (I am Australian) for a few years and about to be transfered to Cairo. Just thought I would add that I get my ‘german tv’ fix watching Lindenstrasse each week through the website – they keep 5 episodes online and you can watch anytime you want – It streams really well and I feel like a huge dag – but I love it. I lived in Munich and Bonn/Koln and go back each year to visit the family. My eldest daughter has just completed a year in Germany (Gap year) and is about to head home – now her German is better than her English.

  • ChristinaG

    Hi Lynda, nice to meet you! You’re the second Lindestrasse junkie, so I guess that means I should watch the show sometime (not sure if I can afford to become addicted to yet another show!)

  • debz

    anyone know where I can get the englished dubbed version of schimanski?

  • Marko

    Hi Christina,

    even the NYTimes wrote about the “Tatort”:
    (Btw: Do you really know somebody who love plastic gnomes?)

    But if you want to watch british TV series, try

  • Gerhard

    Hi Christina,
    for me is the other way around. I miss the American/British shows. I think most of the german TV programs suck. Not enough action. No kidding, I miss even PBS. I’m a lot in DIY and gardening, and there is almost nothing on german TV. I get my weekly dose of good advice over the internet.

  • Christina Geyer

    @gerhard: That’s true, not much gardening or DIY shows here. Did you ever watch Gardening By The Yard? I loved that show and I didn’t even have a garden!

  • Gerhard

    Hi Christina,

    of course I know the show. I had ones the pleasure to meet Paul James in person. Got somewhere his autographed picture. I like his style, he doesn’t takes himself to seriuos.
    He and Roy Underhill are the only “famous” TV personalities I ever got close enough to talk to.

  • kahlua

    Hi there
    I don’t think that Conan is on anymore. After a long “fight” Jay Leno is back. I don’t know about you, but I actually liked Conan better!

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