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That the ARD series For heaven's sake to continue from this Tuesday on, the ailing Catholic Church should come in handy. The institution, which has been badly shaken by abuse scandals and resignations, is experienced from its most pleasant, caring and, yes, most feminine side. It's like in an image film: happy nuns instead of suspicious priests. Clever pastoral care and affability. The monastery as a social station at the cutting edge of the times. Not an island of the blessed, but threatened its very existence and constantly under attack by the local mayor, a paragon of satanic verve. Here, too, limits are exceeded and mistakes are made. But the sins are small and forgivable, the sheep are dry and the church stays in the village.
Climate protection and podcasts are also built into the smile cosmos of the series
Even the ailing spectator, this prodigal son, the prodigal daughter, can be helped in this way. The spiritual support and comfort of soul, which he has not received from the church for a long time and which he probably misses more than ever in lockdown times, is provided by television as a substitute warming room. For heaven's sake (The title has always been flawed, "will" is in lower case, no matter how great the will) has been the comforting tiled stove place for 19 years, a guarantee for reliable processes, manageable conflicts and ultimately happiness. None of the 247 episodes so far has turned out badly, and that will remain so in the last 13 episodes - as much spoiling may be allowed. The successful series with Janina Hartwig as sister Hanna and Fritz Wepper in the role of the sleazy mayor Wolfgang Wöller in the fictional town of Kaltenthal is discontinued after 20 seasons. And then? God grace us!
Even the opening credits force you to take off into a more blessed world at the Whitsun miracle. How aggressively the merry nuns march up there. How energetically Sister Hanna closes the boot lid of her old Mercedes. And help, this pop star gesture from Wepper as the vain provincial sun king! All of this is positive, right down to the lively expressive music, that if you don't switch off immediately, you will fall into the feelgood trap like a fish in the net. Luscious rose splendor, a crowing rooster, summery onion dome and cloister courtyard idyll. The nuns bend happily over a letter that their former co-sister Claudia sent them from the Black Forest, heavily pregnant. Juhu: "In a few weeks a new human child will be born!"
That's how it is at Kaltenthal Abbey. There are many missteps, there is muttering and mumbling, but everything is always corrected, and when a religious sister discovers carnal love and has a child or falls victim to other earthly desires - like Sister Felicitas of the home shopping addiction and the game of poker - , then that is precisely the human flaw that makes her likable, approachable and a comedic character in this godly antics game. The series reflects the problems of the world on a small scale and has already built all sorts of topics into its smiley cosmos, from the refugee crisis to transgender conflicts or - in the new season - climate protection and plastic waste, but always based on sample cases with sample solutions, so that on Everything ends well and the good mood has been restored.
The basic constellation is always the same, that is as certain as the amen in the church: the nuns have to save their monastery in a resourceful way because the egomaniacal mayor wants to sell it off, tear it down or restructure it again. It's a constant haggling. What did Wöller the Hundling not want to build on the monastery property - a congress center, a luxury bunker, a fun pool, a casino. Even a waste incineration plant and a military training area were already being considered. This time he is toying with a battery factory built by a Chinese investor. The basically clammy nuns have to trick and develop their own business models in every episode. Recently they are planning a cloister courtyard café, but - surprise - the building authority has arrived, and so the mayor is once again convinced, if he does not have to be blackmailed.
"For heaven's sake" belongs to the kind of program that nobody wants to see and yet everyone knows
The antagonism between the monastery and the town hall is personified in the central, latently erotically charged exchange of blows between man and woman, the scheming mayor and the clever super nun - from seasons one to five it was Jutta Speidel as sister Lotte, since season six it has been Janina Hartwig as sister Hanna. The shrewd warrior for God with always an ace up her sleeve and the corrupt provincial politician who makes big players - that is reminiscent of Don Camillo and Peppone and was also intended by series inventor Michael Baier from the beginning.
Even the rascal Don Camillo had never been so strict about Christian obedience. And Sister Hanna, an emergency helper in all situations, whether as a psychologist, conflict manager or substitute wife, often has to disregard orthodoxy in the name of the worldly good. In the final season she campaigns for equal rights for women in the Catholic Church and for a reform of celibacy, huijuijui, she boldly announces this in the monastery’s own podcast operated by novice Sina. Yes, that's how progressive you are in the Order of Merry Nuns, always resistant and on your toes.
The fact that all of this takes place in a clear cosmos between the town hall, the monastery kitchen and the "Gasthaus Zum Ochsen", with occasional swings to Munich to see the Mother Superior (Nina Hoger), contributes just as much to the success of the series as its easy-to-understand, if not to say foolproof Typology. As in the puppet theater, each figure is precisely outlined and fulfills its function with exaggerated clarity. There is even a "constable" they actually call that. Every emotion is developed through facial expressions and gestures, and every sentence is emphasized. Even when the superior makes a joke, she does it understandably, as if to take notes: "A woman is like a teabag" - pause, preparing the punch line - "you only notice how strong she is when you throw her into the water. " Applause.
These are the blessings of relaxation television: the viewer can switch off the brain and still not miss anything. He is offered light entertainment, beloved actors, local color - and at the end maybe even his evening peace of mind. In any case, nothing that pulls him down. Media studies speak of "mood regulation": just don't indulge in a bad mood through problem television. Life, folks, is tough enough and you don't indulge in anything else - except that little bit of escapism.
Nobody just admitted it publicly. For heaven's sake belongs to the kind of show that nobody wants to see and yet everyone knows. The five million viewers that this series of edifications has on average must come from somewhere (in the heyday it was eight). But now she is being deposed. "Because everything has its time," as program director Volker Herres says. To be honest, you can't blame him for that. Always the same nuns always in the same need, that has been a bit boring in the course of almost twenty years. Her character was "counted out", said the popular Gaby Dohm, successor to the popular Rosel Zech in the role of Mother Superior, as early as 2015 - and got out.
The serial hero Fritz Wepper, used to long distances (Derrick had 281 episodes), sees it completely differently and spoke of a "great disappointment". It has aged noticeably over the years. But at 79, he still has the joke that the audience loves him for. When asked in episode 248 whether he is working full-time, Wöller replies: "Life's work!"
For heaven's sake, Das Erste, 8:15 p.m., double episode as well as in the media library.
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