‘Comrade Detective,’ a Cold War spoof, suffers from joke rationing

Florin Piersic Jr., left, and Corneliu Ulici star in “Comrade Detective.”
Florin Piersic Jr., left, and Corneliu Ulici star in “Comrade Detective.” Amazon Prime

“Comrade Detective” might have been a great idea for an hour-long special, but it’s a so-so idea for a six-episode miniseries on Amazon Prime.

I’ve had ideas like this. I bet you did, too. They’re the kind of ideas that waft through the distinctively pungent smoke in dorm rooms, usually late at night, with cold pizza and crushed Cheetos underfoot. What if we made a miniseries about a fake Cold War propaganda film made in Romania, peopled it with actual Romanian actors, and then had major American actors voice the characters? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

With or without medicinal inspiration, that’s what Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka envisioned for “Comrade Detective,” which begins with rogue cop Gregor Anghel (played by Florin Piersic Jr., voiced by Channing Tatum) and his partner, Nikita Ionescu (Cristian Popa/Beck Bennett) making a drug bust on their own in Bucharest. It doesn’t end well. The cops are ambushed, and Nikita is killed by a guy wearing a Ronald Reagan mask.

Guilt-ridden, Gregor gets a new partner, Iosif Baciu (Corneliu Ulici/Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and vows to find Nikita’s killer.

Iosif is from the country, which prompts Gregor to make fun of his “milk maid” wife and suggest Iosif has unnatural relations with goats. But Iosif finds the first and most important clue: a label that says “Jordache.”

One of the running jokes in this humor-challenged spoof is that Gregor pronounces it “Jor-Dacky.”

The hitch is that “Comrade Detective” works better as a standard police procedural. There are some brief moments making fun of American capitalist values, and extolling the thin virtues of life as a Soviet Socialist Republic, but the only laugh line is “Jor-Dacky.”

Still, “Comrade Detective” is modestly enjoyable. The Romanian actors are good, and the series has effective, albeit violent, action scenes.

TV review

‘Comrade Detective’ can be streamed on Amazon Prime.