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Series / El Caso

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"Searching for the truth... as long as it provides a good headline."
El Caso. Crónica de sucesos (The Case. Incident Chronicle), often referred to simply as El Caso, is a Spanish television series created by Fernando Guillén Cuervo (who is also the main actor) and produced by Plano a Plano (the guys who also brought us El Príncipe and Allí abajo) for Televisión Española. It started on March 2016, and finished in June of the same year as TVE decided against renewing it for a second season. In 2018, some of the characters were brought back for a Spin-Off series to air on TVE's web platform Playz, which would focus mainly on Aparicio and Aníbal's post-El Caso career as TV reporters.

The series is set in the 1960s Spain, and its main characters are the editors of weekly newspaper El Caso (which actually existed in Real Life from 1952 to 1997, and was revived in April 2016 while the series was running), who aside from reporting, also investigate on their own the crimes they cover (needless to say, this gets them in trouble more than once with the Francoist censorship and police). The main duo is the one formed by veteran editor (and former policeman) Jesús Expósito and newcomer Clara López, the rebellious daughter of Fernando López-Dóriga, the right hand of the Minister of Information (that is, the closest associate to the man in charge of the aforementioned censorship).


This series has examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: American officer Stevens in the premiere.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Jesús calls Miguel Montenegro "Peluso".
  • Agent Mulder: Aníbal is firmly convinced that aliens do exist, and often tries to insert UFO sighting reports in the paper.
  • Alliterative Name: Miguel Montenegro, Margarita Moyano.
  • All Take and No Give: Jesús and Rebeca's relationship has shades of this.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Since the Francoist regime condemned homosexuality, the only two gay characters on the show, Gerardo and Cabrera (who are also lovers) have to hide it from everyone.
  • Ascended Extra: Cabrera has very brief appearances on the first two episodes (in which we learn that he's Gerardo's lover) and gains relevance in the show from episode 3, when López-Dóriga designates him as the censor of El Caso.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The Episode 5 case is one by López-Dóriga and Camacho. They let the El Caso journalists discover the truth (the dead couple are a French Communist and his Cuban secretary) and publish it, only to seize the entire print run - to get the Americans to accept a commercial deal with the Spanish.
    • On a smaller scale, Germán also pulls one off with his boxing match on Episode 6. "The Old Man" had paid him to throw the fight against Nuño, so he spreads the word of the fix and then, when everyone starts betting for Nuño as Germán expected, he uses the money he had been paid to bet for himself, and with the gains, return to "the Old Man" the money and give some to Nuño so that he can leave the city for a while, since he feels things are getting dangerous for him.
  • Bedlam House: The San José mental asylum from episode 2, where strange clinical trials are conducted.
  • Berserk Button: When Jesús and Clara first meet him at the San José asylum, Juan Toledo seems a calm man. However, while Camacho is interrogating him, a pianist starts playing Beethoven's Für Elise and he loses his cool. It's the music that was playing when his mother was raped in front of him as a child.
  • Big Bad: "The Rosary Killer", who murdered Jesús' girlfriend twenty years ago in one of the crimes for which Pepe Garcés was wrongfully imprisoned. Jesús is still determined to uncover his identity.
  • Catchphrase: Rodrigo's way to tell everyone to get back to work:
    Rodrigo: Those typewriters, I don't hear them!
  • Child Prodigy: Perico González, the disappeared young painter from episode 3.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Gerardo, combined with New Job as the Plot Demands. He announces on episode 2 that he will be sent shortly to the Spanish Embassy in Morocco, then on episode 5 he returns as he has been reassigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then disappears again in episode 11... and the next thing we hear of him is he dies in the train accident from episode 13.
  • Cowboy Cop: It's implied that Jesús was this when he was a policeman.
  • Crowded-Cast Shot: In the first episode, when most of the editors go to the same bar.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: The American air base in the first episode is American territory, so Spanish LE need not apply. Not that LE is eager to investigate what the Americans do when they are out of the base anyway.
  • Dirty Cop: Toño Camacho, usually all too ready to force a confession out of a suspect by any means necessary.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Gender-Inverted with Margarita. She's the only person in the entire series seen smoking from a pipe (in a show set in The '60s in which Everybody Smokes), and also happens to be the most experienced journalist in the El Caso office.
  • Driven to Suicide: Amelia, the asylum patient from episode 2. As a side effect of her MKULTRA treatment, she had a mental episode and thought she was being chased.
  • Enemy Mine: On episode 9, Jesús and Camacho finally agree to join forces to catch The Rosary Killer once and for all.
  • The Faceless: Though "The Rosary Killer" doesn't cover his face, it doesn't appear on screen. He is identified by a tattoo of the Virgin Mary on his forearm.
  • Fan Disservice: The flashback from episode 1 that shows the victim, Nati, stripping down for Stevens right before he rapes and kills her.
  • Foreshadowing: A rather crude one when the El Caso team meets Clara's husband. One journalist claims that he is too clean, another that he walks "like he got a stick up his ass"...
  • Freudian Excuse: Juan Toledo's motive to kill Jacinto Albiol and the other fine arts professor. He saw both of them rape his mother when he was a child.
  • Gayngst: Gerardo is ashamed of his homosexuality and believes in a "cure" for it. Justified since the series is set in Francoist Spain.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Montenegro, as the Nice Guy in the police force, is the Good Cop to Camacho's Bad Cop.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jesús with Rodrigo and Montenegro. He used to be this with Camacho as well until their fallout.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Double Subverted with Reme. While Aníbal is clearly smitten with her, the El Caso staff already knows her and they doubt that she appreciates what he does for her. When he's left almost without resources, and is thus unable to maintain her, this piece of dialogue happens:
    Aníbal: Reme, you'll see, I won't be able to help you out anymore. I'm sorry but I... have my obligations, and...
    Reme: (Appears overwhelmed and angry) Don't you even think about apologizing! You've given me so much in exchange for nothing!
  • Hypocrite: Cabrera tells Jesús not to "justify degenerates" when writing about a homosexual relationship being in one himself.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Eventually, Espósito realizes that he is doing a disservice to Rebeca, and eventually arranges things so that she will marry Camacho.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Invoked by Rodrigo during an argument with Clara on episode 4, over her refusing to take photos of a burnt woman for the front page. It later turns out she did take the pictures, but did not want them published.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Clara quickly becomes this after joining the staff of El Caso.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Camacho genuinely loves Rebeca and becomes notably distraught when she's kidnapped.
  • Last-Name Basis: Captain Cabrera gets promoted to this from No Name Given on episode 3 after being designated as the new censor of El Caso.
    • According to the show's website, his first name is Manuel, but it hasn't been mentioned in the series yet.
  • Love Triangle: There's one brewing among Jesús, Rebeca and Camacho.
  • Never Suicide:
    • Jesús immediately suspects that Garcés did not kill himself after leaving prison. His suspicions are confirmed on the following episode.
    • The official story that Kerry killed herself, right after being arrested by police is an obvious coverup to everyone.
    • The first official story about the train accident is that one of the train drivers committed suicide, but a little research proves that he is being used as a Scapegoat.
  • Nice Guy: Montenegro, especially when paired with Camacho. He's probably the White Sheep in the police force. Gerardo qualifies as well.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Episode 3 has an in-universe instance, when the ticket sales for Laura's latest theater play shoot up after what appear to be remains of a Satanic rite are found in one of her houses. It later turns out she had set up the whole thing herself for that purpose.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Cabrera and Father Sanchís, both of whom are named Manuel. Last-Name Basis is usually in effect with both of them, however.
  • Porn Stache: Since this is The '60s, several male characters sport this look, with Montenegro and Cabrera being the most prominent examples.
  • Rabid Cop: Camacho is the most notable example. This is the Francoist police, after all.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Several of the cases shown in the series (in fact, all of them, according to Word of God) are inspired on actual murders the real-life El Caso reported about. Those real-life cases are from different decades, which causes the series, set in 1966, to often veer into Very Loosely Based on a True Story territory (more on that below).
  • Run for the Border: Stevens in Episode 1. The "border" in this case is the American military base, but it works the same because legally it is American territory.
  • Running Gag: This exchange happens several times:
    Rodrigo: I have the rotary presses stopped, and that costs me...!
    Everyone else in the scene: A fortune!
    Rodrigo: Exactly, fuck, a fortune.
  • Serial Killer: "The Rosary Killer" has five victims attributed. A tally that grew on episode 5 with the killing of María Belén, the newsstand girl.
  • Ship Tease: There seems to be something going on between Clara and Montenegro. He kisses her on episode 4.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Blanca Apilánez's character, Margarita Moyano, is inspired on real-life El Caso journalist Margarita Landi.
    • Also, there's one to the TBO comic magazine, and to some of the characters in it:
    Clara: My favourite character was Carpanta.
    Jesús: I thought you would be more into Reporter Tribulete.
  • Spinning Paper: Happens Once per Episode, when the new issue comes out at the end.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee:
    Montenegro: I can't give you Garcés's confession. But if someone searches for it in the files, there's nothing I can do about it.
  • Straight Gay:
    • Clara's husband, Gerardo. He actually passes off as a straight man the first time we see him... until Clara surprises him cheating on her with a man at the end of the first episode.
    • Cabrera. Other than Clara (who saw him with Gerardo) no one in the El Caso office seems to even suspect he is homosexual.
  • Tested on Humans: The Reveal of Episode 2 is that a doctor is experimenting techniques of the CIA's MKULTRA project on the asylum's patients.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Camacho's weapon of choice when interrogating suspects is a phone book.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Most characters are this. Justified as the show is set in the 1960s.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Clara and Margarita are the sole female editors of El Caso.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: This is a crime show, not a documentary.
    • The first episode "The Crime of the Water Tank" is loosely based on the unsolved "Crime of the Clay Jar", in which a dead prostitute was found inside a big clay jar in an abandoned farm near Torrejón Air Base. In the real case, which took place in 1969 rather than 1966, there was no American woman involved (the victim was identified as American at first because she pretended to be American when she worked) and the idea that she was killed in the base or by an American soldier is just one of several theories.
    • The third episode, "The Case of the Boy Artist" is inspired by the 1987 disappearance of David Guerrero in Malaga, which is still unsolved.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In the first episode, when Clara suffers a fit of heaving the first time she sees the victim's body at the morgue.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jesús and Toño were friends when Jesús' girlfriend was killed. They both became cops, but Jesús left the force, implicitely over his doubts regarding Garcés' conviction.
  • Wham Episode: In Episode 9, Camacho is relieved from his position as comissioner in chief and Cabrera is brought in as his replacement.
  • White Sheep: Clara works as a journalist at a newspaper with a blatant disregard for the Francoist censorship. Her father, a close associate of the Minister of Information, is none too happy about it.
  • Woman Scorned: Rodrigo's wife is furious to learn that he has an affair with the El Caso secretary, Paloma (who apparently used to be a maid at their house, as well). Since her family invested the money to open El Caso, it takes a few pleas from Jesús and his word that he'll convince Rodrigo to fire Paloma to talk her out of shutting down the newspaper.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Clara saves a young woman from an insane asylum, that seems sane compared to the other inmates. Almost as soon as they are out, she has a mental episode and kills herself.