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Channel Zappers Get Two Views of Same European Murder Mystery

December 15, 1991

BERLIN (AP) _ Channel zappers who zip across the television dial with electric abandon finally have found the perfect program for today’s tiny attention spans.

Two versions of ″Murderous Decision,″ a 90-minute European murder mystery, were broadcast simultaneously Sunday night on Germany’s two main television stations, ZDF and ARD.

Each film portrayed different versions of the same story - one from the point of the view of the male lead character, the other from that of the female protagonist.

The twin peeks at the same story was the product of two TV executives who decided to switch rather than fight the trend of viewers using remote controls to jump frequently from show to show.

Viewers of ″Murderous Decision″ were encouraged to bounce between the two versions, to mix and match plot developments and pick up clues without losing the narrative thread.

″It will create a temptation to switch back and forth because one will know more than the protagonists,″ Joachim Dennhardt, an ARD editor, told the newspaper Die Welt.

Dennhardt and ZDF editor Peter Nadermann came up with the idea in a bistro last year while discussing channel zapping, the bane of continuity-conscious television producers.

The two-version movie was shot in stark, shadowy ″film noir″ style.

The main characters are Stephan, a cartoonist played by French actor Nils Tavernier, and Christine, a television station employee played by Spanish actress Mapi Galan.

Both versions open with the same 12-minute scene - the ritualistic murder of a transvestite that brings the lead characters together. But the story lines then part company.

While one film shows Stephan, for example, hanging around outside a house, Christine’s version depicts the tawdry actions inside.

The $2.6 million film was written by British author Tony Grisoni and shot in English with an international cast. It was dubbed in German for the debut, but also was marketed to other countries.

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