You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hungary: ‘Columbo’ still solving crime

Mipcom 2005: Hot show

BUDAPEST — Hungarian tastes often stray from the mainstream and the contemporary. For some observers, Hungarian viewing habits are a mystery.

“Don’t ask me why, but Hungarians love Roger Moore,” lamented one U.S. TV executive early in Hungary’s transition to commercial TV.

Magyar passion for Moore isn’t so mysterious, stemming from the long run of “The Saint” on communist-era, state-run television. Similarly, a host of unlikely U.S. hits on Hungarian TV are popular because they either played during the communist era, or they are similar to past shows that did.

The Peter Falk classic “Columbo” is a highly rated fixture on TV2’s primetime lineup, even though the original NBC series ended in 1977. According to TV2’s Sylvia Graczka, Hungarians love the series because it’s “thinking” television, one in which the audiences enjoy watching the detective solve a murder.

But “Columbo,” like “The Saint,” was among the few TV series allowed on the airwaves during the reign of communism — both shows were apolitical and painted the West as a den of murder and mayhem — making Falk a favorite uncle for Hungarian viewers over 30.

“The Streets of San Francisco,” which was also popular in Hungary in the 1970s, airs on TV2 and helps satiate audiences nostalgia for traditional U.S. cop shows.

Hungary’s communist government didn’t allow only crime drama on the state broadcasters. Seamy adult dramas were also permitted.

The most popular U.S. soap in Hungary during that time was “Dallas.” The legacy lives on as a Stetson-wearing J.R. Ewing look-alike is the spokesman for a major Hungarian electronics retailer today.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Laverne Cox Charlie's Angels

    How Laverne Cox Landed a Cameo in Elizabeth Banks' 'Charlie’s Angels'

    Laverne Cox officially earned her wings, scoring a role in Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels.” But she revealed her cameo almost didn’t happen. When the Emmy-nominee heard that Elizabeth Banks was directing the film, the longtime fan of the franchise (and of Banks herself) reached out about being part of the project. Cox had previously worked with [...]

  • Lena Waithe'The Inheritance' Broadway play opening,

    Lena Waithe, Anderson Cooper Attend Broadway Opening of 'The Inheritance'

    “The Inheritance” pulls viewers in many directions — toward pain and hope, trauma and healing. It’s what brought stars like Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Lena Waithe to Broadway on Sunday — a chance to heal, to remember and grieve. Also in attendance for the premiere at the Barrymore Theater [...]

  • Cybill ShepherdTrevorLIVE, Show, The Beverly Hilton,

    'The L Word' Co-Stars Cybill Shepherd and Jane Lynch Reunite at TrevorLive

    Fans of Showtime’s “The L Word” will be happy to hear that Cybill Shepherd eagerly reprised her on-screen romance with former co-star Jane Lynch on Sunday night at the TrevorLive Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. While accepting the champion Award, Shepherd kissed Lynch not one, but twice. The “Moonlighting” star was recognized [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content