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Series / Mesto tienov

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Mesto tienov ("The City of Shadows") is a Slovak TV crime drama made by DNA Production and broadcast on TV Markíza. It's set in the capital, Bratislava, and focuses on the daily work and lives of the members of a (mildly fictionalized) homicide investigation department. The show has had two seasons. The main characters are Major Ivan Tomeček (Pavel Višňovský), First Lieutenant Tomáš Benkovský (Marián Mitaš) and the team's forensic psychologist, Jana Holíková (Soňa Norisová).


Tropes seen in this series:

  • Britain is Only London: Zig-zagged. The series focuses on the capital of Slovakia and its immediate surroundings, so it's kind of justified, but the characters don't act as if nothing else was going on in the rest of the country. Furthermore, the season one episode "The Robbery" had the crew investigating in a small town in the wider Bratislava administrative region.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Though not to the level of British coppers, Slovak cops and inspectors rarely draw their weapons both in Real Life and in-universe.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost every episode, especially for many of the relatives of the convicted murderers. Sometimes a more Downer Ending, even for the series' main cast.
  • City Noir: Despite the series' title and the often desaturated look of the shots, this is more often than not subverted. Most episodes are set in broad daylight and though the more brutal cases show the city's seedy underbelly, the general tone is balanced and not over-stylized.
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  • Cool Old Guy: Ivan Tomeček isn't that old, but among his mostly young co-workers, he definitely qualifies. Being an understanding but no-nonsense boss and something of a Papa Wolf to both his underlings and his own family helps. You quickly realise there's a very devoted and ethically minded man under that serious and gruff facade.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Tomáš Benkovský. His relationship with his father Jozef is strained ever since his mother got seriously injured during a hike in the mountains and ended up in a wheelchair. Tomáš blames his father for the accident. Worse yet, his father is the department's medical examiner (coroner), so they often quietly clash in private. Tomáš is largely unaware that Jozef lobbied for him at the department so he could join. Despite Tomáš thinking otherwise, his dad is secretly an Iron Woobie and The Atoner, but decided to keep to himself instead of trying to persuade his son about being equally scared by the accident and Anna's fate.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kopriva and Holíková in particular. They just love engaging in this trope during colleague-to-colleague dialogue.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Averted. Opening shots of well-known Bratislavan landmarks are shown Once an Episode, but the series prefers a more grittier look at the city and its quarters and suburbs.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Many of the cases include asshole victims and understandable motivations for the crimes committed by the suspect of the week. The investigators themselves are only human as well, and some of them have their own personal issues and professional flaws.
  • Hollywood Science: Averted. The methods portrayed on screen are all real ones. However, the disclaimer at the end of each episode mentions that while most of the methods shown are usualy used by Slovak investigators, some aren't.
  • Odd Couple: First Lieutenants Sergej Kopriva and Oliver Bachratík, who are opposites personality-wise. And They Fight Crime!!
  • Police Procedural: The show is about work of Slovak crime investigators. Though it does focus quite a bit on the personal lives of the characters as well.
  • Product Placement: Everyone of the main cast drives a Kia. Kind of justified by Kia having a plant in northern Slovakia and Slovak police often purchasing Kias as patrol cars, but it's still a bit jarring to see everyone from the department driving a civilian version.
  • Put on a Bus: Tomáš's father Jozef retires before the start of the second season and is replaced by a Distaff Counterpart, Irena Rakúska.
  • Real Is Brown: A variation in that the more stylized and most of the outdoor scenes are shown in somewhat desaturated colours (REAL IS BLUE!).
  • Shaming the Mob: In the episode "The Robbery", some of the local residents of a small town want to take justice into their own hands and punish a man they suspect is behind the brutal robbery that happened recently. The team is not pleased.
  • Shout-Out: In one of the first episodes, one of the suspects is a fan of John Woo's Hard Boiled.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Quite dark and cynical at times, though generally somewhere to the middle. The Wham Episodes tend to be Darker and Edgier.
  • Spiritual Successor: A live-action one to DNA Production's earlier docudrama series Najväčšie kriminálne prípady Slovenska ("The Biggest Crime Cases of Slovakia"), which focused on notorious Slovak crime cases of the 20th century (some famous, some nearly forgotten).
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted. While the plots are episode-specific, there is some continuity between them and the two seasons (mainly when it comes to the personal issues of the characters).
  • Team Dad: Ivan Tomeček, the chief of the department, is very protective of his people. He's also a Papa Wolf (especially in private and when it comes to his family).
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: All of the cases are inspired by Real Life ones to varying degrees. They're slightly modified, but usualy follow the events of the original case faithfully. Most of the inspirations for the in-universe cases are at least 10-15 years old. Some of the episodes' basic plots are inspired by cases from the 1990s, some even by decades old crimes. The disclaimer shown during each episode's Ending Theme is keen to remind the viewers about this.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The two-parter "The End of the World" has Tomáš Benkovský taken hostage by a notorious Serial Killer of homeless people. The episode was based on the infamous 1990s case of a serial killer who sadistically tortured and murdered homeless people in the vicinity of Bratislava.
    • Then, the penultimate episode of the season has Tomeček's daughter Eva gone missing while a recent investigation reveals disfigured female corpses linked to a series of brutal murders. Naturally, Ivan is worried. Eva's found alive and well in the following episode, but the incident still influences the relationship between Eva and her parents in the second season. Tomeček was a Papa Wolf already before her abduction and he and his wife are all the more protective of Eva after her rescue.

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