Welcome to the Long Story Short on BBC’s Vienna Blood, your whistle-stop tour through the period crime drama everyone’s talking about
By Ross Campbell, Writer
Whether you can spare a few seconds, or you’ve got a little longer, we can take you from blagger to boffin in no time. Read on for more…
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The year is 1906 in Vienna, and Inspector Rheinhardt has a puzzling case on his hands. When he’s forced to work with a Freudian junior doc called Max Liebermann, his reservations soon dissipate when he sees true brilliance in action.
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Where has this story come from?
The characters and stories come from The Liebermann mystery novels, by author and clinical phycologist, Frank Tallis. The BBC production has been brought to life by Stephen Thompson and his team – the guys behind Sherlock and Doctor Who. And in true Sherlock style, each episode of Vienna Blood is a generous 90-minutes apiece.
Who is this dazzling Max Liebermann?
Max is a junior doctor under the tutelage of Sigmund Freud, working and studying in Vienna. His father, Mendel, happens to be big pals with the chief of police, and when Max requests to observe a live criminal investigation, he’s passed on to Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt – who could really do with catching a professional break.
Where does the story begin?
Rheinhardt is baffled by a new murder case. The victim appears to have committed suicide with a pistol, however there’s no weapon, no bullet, no exit wound and there’s nothing to suggest a struggle. None of the neighbours can identify the deceased and the coroner thinks he’s been played for a fool. It’s a stumper.
That does sound like a head-scratcher… what happens next?
The illuminating Dr Max happens, of course. With the techniques he’s been taught in Freud’s classes, he’s able to delve into the crime scene like an old hand – able to look beyond what’s in front of him to piece together an early example of criminal profiling. And thus begins a beautiful partnership of brains and brawn.
What you should know before series 2?
Having established that they work rather well together, Max and Oskar continue to collaborate on more investigations over episodes two and three, feeding Max’s fascination with the psychology of the criminal mind. However, as his working life with Oskar develops into a friendship, his other relationships – in particular the one with his socialite girlfriend – suffer the consequences.
At the end of the first series, Max is left hoping he can continue working alongside the police, having been suspended from his hospital for malpractice. And thankfully, Matthew Beard confirms “...his wish is granted when Oskar comes to visit him at his new private practice and lures him back into another fascinating case ripe for a Freudian approach”.
What’s going on in series 2?
Just like the first, series two will comprise of three 90-minute episodes. We’ve fast-forwarded a little to the autumn of 1907, and Max’s tenure at his working hospital is over – only fuelling his belief in the psychoanalytical teachings of his mentor, Sigmund Freud.
The first episode leads the double act to a drowned Hungarian countess, with the popular opinion being suicide. However, the countess was a patient of Max’s, and he personally suggested she forgo her prescribed medication in exchange for Freudian talking therapy. With the spotlight on his radical medical advice, it’s a race against the clock to find out what really happened.
Who are the main characters?
A young English doctor with a progressive attitude to treating the mentally unstable. As a devout follower of Sigmund Freud, Max is fascinated with the criminal psyche. Mathew Beard has notable appearances in The Imitation Game and Johnny English Strikes Again.
The stoic inspector may not understand Dr Max’s “mind tricks” but he certainly appreciates the results. With a short fuse and a broken heart, he’s the muscle of the operation. Maurer is best known for his role in Vorstadtweiber – the Austrian version of Desperate Housewives.
Mendel is the patriarch of the Liebermann family, having brought them to Vienna from London at the end of the 18th century. If you’re wondering where you know Hill from, he plays the eunuch, Lord Varys, in Game Of Thrones.
Leah certainly doesn’t live up to her brother’s status as a doctor, but she’s not a wallflower either. We meet Leah’s son Daniel in series 1, episode 3, when he’s found with bruises all over this body. McKenna has appeared in Peaky Blinders and Skins.
When is Vienna Blood on TV?
Vienna Blood series 2 returns to BBC Two HD (CH 102) at 9pm on Friday 10 December, promising more Freudian double-team action on the streets of Vienna. If you want to get caught up on the first series, stream it now in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box, Virgin TV V6 box or Virgin TV 360 box connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
Image credits: Vienna Blood © 2021 Endor Productions/MR Film/Petro Domenigg