Murder is afoot in PBS series set in 1900s Vienna - Albuquerque Journal

Murder is afoot in PBS series set in 1900s Vienna

Matthew Beard, left, and Juergen Maurer star in the PBS series, “Vienna Blood.” (Endor Production Ltd/MR Film GmbH)

Robert Dornhelm has traveled the world making films.

When the director was offered the opportunity to be at the helm of the PBS series, “Vienna Blood,” he took it.

“It was an easy decision,” he says. “I grew up in Vienna. My family immigrated to Vienna and it’s easy to slip back in that time. I directly lived in it.”

The second season of “Vienna Blood,” premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1. It will also stream on the PBS Video app. It will then air on Sundays through Feb. 13.

The series is set in the early 1900s in the dangerous and dazzling European capital, where radical new ideas about philosophy, psychology and art are espoused in the city’s opulent cafes and opera houses.

But beneath the genteel glamour, a dangerous undercurrent of nationalism and anti-Semitism is on the rise – and murder is afoot. Joining forces to solve the crimes are Max Liebermann, a brilliant young doctor and disciple of the controversial psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and world-weary Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt. The roles are played by Matthew Beard and Juergen Maurer, respectively.

The series is written by Steve Thompson and based on the best-selling novels by Frank Tallis.

Dornhelm felt a connection to the series because it reminded him of growing up.

“I was a ’60s child and we wanted to change everything,” he says. “We had long hair and wore black pullovers. We didn’t want to hear anything about old art before.”

Dornhelm was also familiar with the book series.

“The BBC wanted to do this project 15 years ago,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in the time period. It’s the time before the first world war starts. There’s a huge development in the arts and there’s a push for nationalism. Then you add in war mongering and stupidity. I thought that was fertile ground.”

Dornhelm says each production is like going to war and he never knows what to expect.

“Each time it’s beautiful,” he says. “I never take any of it for granted. The books were our guide in this series.”

The Oscar-nominated director says he cut the film with the music already in mind.

“I need the composer to discuss the music before I start shooting,” he says. “The music for this already indicated the way we approached the film.”

As an audience prepares to view the second season, Dornhelm hopes that the series will entertain.

“I want them to smile and enjoy the locations,” he says. “It’s a fun period piece and gives you entertainment. There are intelligent lines and plenty of suspense.”

Dornhelm is also looking forward to a full year of projects. He’s hoping to return to New Mexico for another project.

“I was on ‘Into the West’ years ago,” he says. “That one was a pleasure because it was so fast moving.”

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