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Series / Tata, a Marcin powiedział...

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Tata, a Marcin powiedział... (Dad, Martin said...) is a Polish TV series from the 90s. Each episode consists of a dialogue between a father (Piotr Fronczewski) and his growing son (Mikołaj Radwan), starting with the phrase "Dad, Martin said that his dad said..." which leads to a discussion on some issue.

The series had proven to be an immense hit, unsuprisingly mostly among parents rather than the children (despite being addressed to the kids), as they found it easy to relate to a father trying to explain in the best possible way all the complicated matters of the adult world to his son. A lot of the humour comes from the young boy's naivety and innocence, as well as the father's impulsive character and how often he ends up caught off-guard by the boy's wisdom.


Dad, Martin said his dad said our show provides examples of:

  • Character Development:
    • As the Boy grows up over the years, it becomes more and more apparent he embraced most of the lessons his Father gave him. He also obviously starts to lose his childish naivety.
    • Initially the Father is a choleric with a lot of insecurities about the way he is perceived by society around him and with really strained family relations. He gets better - one of the relatively early changes is him asking "What's going on with Marcin's dad?".
  • Children Are Innocent: For the first two years or so, the show revolved around the Boy asking difficult questions and his Father struggling to both provide the right answer and shelter his son from the adult world.
  • Constantly Curious: The main premise of the series is the Boy drilling his Father with questions about the issue that bugs him at given moment.
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  • Double Standard: A recurring theme is variety of moral double-standards, either puzzling the Boy, invoked by the Father (or him being caught on hypocrisy) and so on. Including even an episode literally called "Double Moral Standard", fully dedicated to the concept.
  • Friendly Rivalry: The Father and Martin's father, despite never meeting on screen, are clearly in such "conflict", never stopping to show themselves as the "better father". The series remains neutral and never takes sides, from the very start showing each of them has their distinctive wrongs and rights.
  • The Ghost: Numerous characters are mentioned on regular basis in dialogues, but they never show up on screen. This includes members of the family and the titular Martin himself.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Father gets agitated pretty easily.
  • Hidden Depths: While the Father tries to project an image of strict, strong, manly figure and a breadwinner, he also is well-read, has philosophical insight on many subjects and is in fact very open-minded whenever he allows himself to say what he really thinks, instead of trying to fit into the society around him.
  • Hypocrite/Noble Bigot: One of the defining characteristics of the Father is the contrast between the lessons he gives his son and how he behaves himself. The Boy regularly calls him out on this.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: One of the episodes deal with this, with the Father trying to talk in the most round words (the Boy was implied to be below 10 by then) about the difference between art, an act and blatant pornography, as a counter-point to Martin's father claiming everything with nude people are by default immoral and depraved.
  • Just a Kid: Standard defense of the Father when the son starts to point out his own hypocrisy.
  • Kid Has a Point: Many situations are diffused when the Father realizes his son is right about some social or psychological issue.
  • Long Runner: The series managed to survive for seven years with a faithful audience, regardless of its Minimalism and formulatic nature. It ended for natural reasons - Mikołaj Radwan turned 16 and there was little point to continue the format.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Part of the humour comes from the Boy and Martin constantly comparing their respective fathers to each other.
  • Meta Casting: Inverted. As Mikołaj Radwan was growing up, so was his character. Which in turn influenced the subject of the dialogues, making them gradually more and more mature. Likewise, Fronczewski was already well-established as a family guy before taking the role.
  • Minimalism: Two actors, usually with single backdrop behind them and roughly 8 minutes to address the subject in question.
  • Minimalist Cast: Piotr Fronczewski as the Father and Mikołaj Radwan as his son. In the final year of the run the Boy's girlfriend started showing up on irregular basis.
  • National Stereotypes: They pop-up here and there. Usually whenever the Father tries to bad-mouth Martin's father for being small-minded, only for the Boy to remind some instance when his Father indulged in invoking blatant stereotypes. Examples included, but weren't limited to: hard-working Germans, crafty Poles, lady-and-blondes-chasing Italians, gung-ho Americans and stoic Scandinavians.
  • No Name Given: We never learn the names of the protagonists. Martin's father also remains unnamed. Gets almost absurd once Agata (a girlfriend of the Boy) is introduced, but the original duo remain nameless.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Invoked, but to realistic proportions. The Father simply notes that being raised in an orphanage has by default a fatal influence on development of children and all sort of alternatives should be seeked.
  • Parental Bonus: Scripts were written to appeal both to children (the show was aired before the evening cartoon the Polish TV traditionally broadcasted at 7 PM) and their parents (who were waiting for evening news, broadcasted at 7:30 PM), serving as education for both.
    • The series doesn't shy away from politics. The Father seems to be a small businessman with a liberal-democratic background. Marcin's father, as in the German original, is probably a more social-democratic working-class type.
  • Parents as People: The Father is shown as a full-fledged character, with entire reasoning for his actions, own agendas, preferences, ideology and what not, always trying to do the best thing for his family and especially his growing up son. In the same time, he has numerous pitfalls, personal issues, stressful situations to deal with and is far from being Mr. Perfect. The entire Parental Bonus was built on him being such complex and nuanced character dealing with everyday situations and tough questions.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Recurring theme, but not in a preachy way:
    • The Father often points out just how ridiculous it is to follow fads and trends, when it's much better to Be Yourself and cultivate own hobbies and interests.
    • It's transparent throughout the series the Father himself is living under heavy peer pressure. While the outlook on life he gives to his son is progressive, tolerant and based on compassion and being reasonable, he himself must maintain a constant mask of being somewhat boorish, overly conservative master of the house for the outside world or he would be ridiculed by the adults around him. It's not treated as a good thing and the son often calls him out on this Double Standard.
  • Secondary Character Title: Sort of, since we never even see Martin.
  • Strictly Formula: Which is part of the charm. Each episode looks more or less like this: the Boy brings up some issue, the Father explains it, the Boy suddenly asks about something closely related, catching the Father off-guard and the Father tries desperately to both remain true to his own preaching and try to explain why he did something wrong - or the episode ends right when he's caught on it, red-handed.
  • Taught by Television: Invoked, discussed and ultimately dismissed, at least in terms of gaining practical skills from fiction. The Boy brings a particular example: crime movies that train people in low-level acts of petty crime, along with murder and heists. The Father is quick to point out that on average, they conclude with "crime doesn't pay" aesop and, more importantly, there is also the concept of Artistic License and simplifications for the sake of the plot. The discussion then switches to romantic comedies (and the Boy hints on more universal "love-making scenes"), only to also be shot down as mostly hollow and overly reliant on grandiose gestures, rather than the prose of life, while creating mutual, unrealistic expectations for people in a relationship. Cue the Boy bringing up that huge rose bouquet mom received when the Father wanted to get into her good graces.
  • Thicker Than Water: The Father regularly invokes it, only to be just as often cornered by the Boy about all sorts of Double Standards this creates.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: At times, the Boy shows a surprising amount of wisdom for his age, which is nicely balanced with his Wide-Eyed Idealist stance of a kid.