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Cars on Film--Alarm fur Cobra 11

What if you could combine the buddy-cop dynamic of Adam-12, the freeway setting of CHiPS, the fancy cinematography and deadly seriousness of CSI, and the over-the-top stunt action of The Dukes of Hazzard in one show? If you could, you'd get ... well, you'd get something a lot like this:

Their territory is the Autobahn ... their speed is lethal ... their opponents: carjackers, murderers and blackmailers. The men of "Cobra 11" are on duty around the clock ... our safety is their job!

Alarm fur Cobra 11 (literally "Alarm for 'Cobra 11'"; probably better translated as "Calling 'Cobra 11'") is a German action-adventure series about the officers of the Autobahnpolizei, the German equivalent of the State Highway Patrol. Erdogan Atalay plays Semir Gerkhan, a plainclothes Autobahnpolizei detective who drives an unmarked silver sedan (almost always a 3-series BMW) with the radio call sign "Cobra 11."  He's had several different human partners over the run of the series.

The show is best known for its spectacular stunts. There are at least two or three overblown high-testosterone action sequences in each episode, with a generous helping of explosions, corkscrew jumps, vehicles plowing through trailers, flying debris, mangled sheet metal, and (this being the safety-conscious EU) airbag deployments. There are so many spectacular crashes that the show's fans have taken to keeping detailed statistics on the number of vehicles destroyed in each show and season, and to assembling the show's greatest "hits" into fan-edited videos such as this one:

Whatever you think of overblown high-testosterone action sequences in general, you have to admit those stunts are nicely done. (I'm particularly impressed by the jump onto the moving train (2:55) and the VW going down the length of the big luxury tour bus (4:02)--inside the bus.) Semir seems to expend a lot of 3-series Bimmers, and at $36,000 or so MSRP each, he's probably got his own line item in the agency's annual budget--in the category "provision for loss." One hopes the German government is getting a quantity discount from BMW.

[UPDATE: You can see other similar compilations here and here.]

Let's take a look at one particular overblown high-testosterone action sequence in detail. This is the climax of episode #3, "Der neue Partner" ("The New Partner"), in which Semir and his then-sidekick Frank (Johannes Brandrup) are pursuing a truckload of stolen luxury sport sedans.  The video is in the original German, with overlaid commentary in Polish:

0:33 -- The truck driver summons his accomplices in the Toyota SUV . . .

0:48 -- ... and Semir expends another silver sedan, sending shivers through the Autobahnpolezei's budget office.

1:14 -- Semir commandeers the good Samaritan's Euro-spec 8-series BMW--it's painted Semir's trademark silver, after all--and the chase is on again!

1:18 -- In a bit of comic relief, Frank leaves his official "lollipop" traffic stop paddle with Herr Bimmerfarer so the poor guy can flag down a ride.

1:41 -- Here we see a Trabant doing what a Trabant does best: breaking down. The Law of Conservation of Detail tells us that this broken-down little Trabi will be important to the plot just moments from now.

1:54 -- Note the jazzy racing stripe on the Trabi's hood. Trabants have no business wearing racing stripes. Since this is a European film production, it is probably meant as a symbol of the triumph of Western consumerism over the Marxist dialectic in the former East Germany, or as an ironic deconstructionist commentary on the futility of modern existence. Or it could just be a joke.

1:56 -- Watch your language, Trucker Boy!

2:09 -- The bad guys improvise a desperate scheme to shake off the pursuit.

2:33 -- A big, expensive Bimmer falls off the truck and gets dragged on its roof. Somewhere in Germany, an insurance adjuster is weeping.

2:54 -- In a blatant act of cheap sentimental exploitation, the film-makers send the 8-series Mega-Bimmer hurtling at full speed straight for the helpless Trabi. This is about a subtle as putting a litter of puppies and a fluffy bunny or two on the road in front of a runaway steamroller.

2:57 -- Semir misses the Trabi by a good six inches ten or twelve centimeters and ...

2:59 -- ... goes up the auto carrier's ramp like Evil Knievel!

3:03 -- Not only does Semir vault over the auto carrier, he also clears the VW Golf that's three car lengths ahead of the truck. Let's be honest here, could Bo and Luke Duke and the General Lee have pulled this stunt off? Could they? Huh? I have my doubts. For one thing, there's no Autobahn in Hazzard County.

3:05 -- Lucky for us, Semir pulls back on the stick and brings the Bimmer's nose up before touching down. It probably won't need too much work on the front suspension to put it right.

Like any popular show, Cobra 11 has an active fan community. A few fans have even made their own Cobra 11 episodes, like this one:

There are also Cobra 11 video games, in case you feel the urge to vicariously demolish a few 3-series BMWs yourself.

If you'd like to see more of Cobra 11, the production company's English-language promotional video can be seen here. There are many more clips (and even some whole episodes) on YouTube. You can see streaming video of recent episodes at the RTL TV network's Cobra 11 website. At various times I was researching this article, one episode from the set could be viewed for free (kostenlos); the pay-per-view episodes are 1 Euro for a one-time showing.

--Alarm fur Cookie-Hund 11


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Wow, all those crashes, and everybody lived! Says something about German cars, huh?

This looks terribly cheesy yet incredibly compelling - the kind of show I would have skippped my morning college classes to watch. Was Jerry Bruckheimer involved? Perhaps Gerhard von Brueckheimer?

- This show must have been inspired by the hilarious Simpsons meme where every collision must result in a massive fireball. A bicycle falls into a canyon, instant fireball. A falling rock innocently taps a car, instant fireball.

- I love the image of the Porsche 928 wreathed in fire after jumping through the helicopter.

- What's the fatality rate on the German autobahn? 100%? It's like a war out there!

- Jarring, adjective, the feeling when seeing a Plymouth Sundance and Ford Probe on the German autobahn.

- I love the fan film - especially the part where the cars run over the army men. Perfect.

- With the hero sporting a five o'clock shadow on his clenched jaw and the overdramatic music, I suddenly have the need to say "Now it's personal" in German? Es ist jetzt ... ?

The safety is our job, and he’s had several different human partners (as opposed to un-human partners?) remarks kind of stood out after watching the clips.

All and all, I’m pretty under whelmed. Apparently the stunt coordinators of this show have never been to a Wal-Mart parking lot and watched the daily histrionics of patrons jockeying for the closest parking space. Also, in America, that 911 would have been “restored” and advertised as a lightly used movie car ;)

Awesome. So bad its good. The narrative by the blog author is fun too - helps to build excitement :-) Great stuff.

Everyone lived... except in the fan film!

The flaming 928 running through the helicopter is a great sequence.

In the clips it looks like there's an episode centered on a mad bomber running about the autobahn in a racing Kart. having always wanted to run a racing kart on the autobahn, and having had a lot of childhood experience explosives and blowing things up, i am eager to see this full story. Great story lines like these completely appeal to the 12 year old in me. this stuff is classic.

seriously the last time i saw so much automotive carnage it was the Blues Brothers movie.

What a find!

This show is horrible! They're destroying some of my favorite cars in that crash compilation video: Alfa 164, Porsche 928, 993 body Porsche 911, BMW 325iS, ack!! I was totally ok with the Ford Probe and Chrysler minivans getting it, however.

Why are there no BMW 840i's around to commandeer when I wreck my old Audi 200 foolishly in my line of police work? I need to move to Germany.

Sorry that this is off the subject, but that's one nice pic of a gray/silver Lotus Elise at the top of the page, Matthew!

Wow. Yeah it is.

I remember finding a compliation of this show on youtube a few years ago. It was one of my first 'favorites' on youtube. :)

"Wow, all those crashes, and everybody lived!"

The nobody-gets-killed thing reminds me of The A-Team. The various Youtube clips show some narrow escapes that would only work on TV; for example, one clip showed Our Hero throwing himself out of a car at speed, which in reality would probably hurt him worse than staying in the car and riding out the crash.

"Jarring, adjective, the feeling when seeing a Plymouth Sundance and Ford Probe on the German autobahn."

The other Youtube clips also had a oddly high amount of Detroit iron--in one "greatest hits" clip, the death toll included two Chevy Camaros, two Chrysler Magic Wagons, and what looked like a full-size Chevy van. Perhaps the producers are trying to save money by buying up old beaters in the US and shipping them to Germany to be crunched in the show.

...hey, thanks chuck!..i was tickled to find it up there tonight, myself - and lest anyone think mehve's not an authentic object of car lust, i bought her with sixty-four thousand well-worn miles on the clock, and have adored nursing out every mile of spirited daily driving she's accrued since...

...cobra 11's opening voiceover sounds awfully familiar: the same narrator as sabine schmitz's d motor?..

nice nice lotus ...m... you ARE going to bring her around so we can all take her for a spin aren't you. if not I'd be happy to drive up the coast;) just a ride around the block that's all. cheers.

Just in case you haven't seen enough, there's the Cobra 11 rap video.

I am not making this up.

EN nagyon szeretem ezt filmet COBRA 11-Et.TOM-NAK az arca csunya,SEMIR-nek nagyon szep az arca.TOM magas termetu,SEMIR alacsony termetu.Ebben a filmben a COBRA11-be nagyon sok az akcio,mert a film nemetakcio film sorozat.SEMIR mindig bajba kerul es jon TOM es kisegiti.ANDREA SEMIR-nek a felesege ott dolgozik a rendorsegen de kozbe PETRAT is oda hozztak mint titkarnonek.A fonok-nek nagyon szep az arca,de a tobbi rendorok-nek csunya az arcuk kozbe DETER es HOTTE nagyon jo baratok de valamikor osszeveszekszenek.MARKUSZ egy nagy rablo es elakarja PETRAT mert nagyon szerette de mostman TOM szereti PETRAT es az egesz csajokat hoditja meg csabitja.De SEMIR csak ANDREAT szereti nagyon.

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