Netflix recently advertised a new criminal series called "Criminal: United Kingdom". The series is really minimalist - shot in two rooms (and a bit of corridor)*, 50 minutes long episodes - that show efforts of the police investigators to get the truth out of suspects.

To my surprise, very soon after I've found "Criminal: Germany", "Criminal: France" and "Criminal: Spain"

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Edit: the French trailer shows fragments from all versions:

Each of the series is really short and contains (currently) only 3 episodes. But why would Netflix ask 4 different production groups from 4 different countries to make the same series?

Usually, when someone decides to make a remake, it is made quite some time after the original movie/series, here we have something more akin to an Internet challenge: "Make a short series about interrogation!".

Why did Netflix decide to produce 4 (so far) same series in 4 different countries?

To clarify: Those are not the same cases, but it is still the same series, even while it is advertised as 4 different ones. It has been even filmed at the same location!

I find it a highly unusual and weird move because

  1. Not everyone likes to watch undubbed movies with subtitles, so it is quite possible that they will stick only to the version in his/her native language, making 3/4 of the production a bit of a waste.
  2. One country series is very short - it is just three episodes. You barely getting used to characters and start liking them when it's over and you have to switch to a different people speaking a different language.

So what made Netflix make such an unusual production?

Just to clarify:

  1. The premise of the story is the same in every version, which gives (currently) 3 x 4 = 12 different criminal cases.
  2. I honestly doubt this is a "CSI [your place]" effect since there is almost nothing story-wise that is explicit to a given country (one notable exception is the cold case involving East-West Germany relations). If the title wouldn't display it, I honestly wouldn't know that we are in a given country (and no, the action never leaves the building, always the same building).
  3. I honestly don't believe that this was the "we just sell service so let's make something cheap to fill the gap" case of Netflix - this series was quite advertised when it appeared.

*Actually, according to Wikipedia they are THE SAME rooms - every version was filmed at the same location.

  • Same series, does that mean same story, same location and difference is just actors and language/country? haven't watched the series, that's why I'm asking
    – Vishwa
    Sep 25, 2019 at 3:59
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    @Vishwa The crimes in each episode/country are different, but the story (which can be boiled down to "get the truth out of suspect in a limited time") is the same. For example, the first episode in UK version is about father accused of killing stepdaughter while first German episode is about West German businessmen accused of killing East German handyman shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the premise is the same - if not for the actors and language, you would say its the same series.
    – Yasskier
    Sep 25, 2019 at 4:04
  • I'm guessing that Netflix came up with the idea to cheaply (small set, no special effects, just talking, do I get this right?) produce localised shows for several countries. They only had to come up with one formula, but now 4 different countries are happy that they got a Netflix show from their home country. And it is also a nice way to showcase how different nations act in the same situations.
    – TK-421
    Sep 25, 2019 at 6:12
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    @Yasskier then I assume you are American or British. The versions with different languages are targeted at the communities that speak a given language. Also, a lot of people do like watching movies with subtitles, with reasons such as learning a new language, new culture and so on. Just look at the popularity of La Casa De Papel (Money Heist), which is a very popular Spanish Netflix show.
    – TK-421
    Sep 25, 2019 at 6:27
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    Maybe some of these comments can be condensed into a proper answer?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 25, 2019 at 11:41

2 Answers 2


Because its different.

The following article gives some insights into why the format of the show is so different from your typical procedural crime drama. Its basically because the show creators were inspired for a different type of format and Netflix picked it up and made the added decision to make it a 4-part international series. The reason for making it international is not specifically mentioned, so we can only speculate, but the most logical reason is to make it unique and to appeal to larger audiences.

Simply put, the format of the show is meant to be non-traditional and unique so that it will stand out from the typical procedural drama.

Drama Quarterly interview with George Kay

Criminal is overseen by British showrunners George Kay and Jim Field Smith, who wrote and directed the UK episodes, respectively, while also supervising the other countries’ creative teams.

Kay developed the concept after enjoying the constraints of writing a monologue called Double Lesson for Channel 4’s First Cut strand, while also taking inspiration from an interview he watched with a man accused of killing his stepdaughter.

“During the interview, I changed my mind [about whether he was guilty] about three or four times,” he recalls. “Jim and I have worked together since school and we’ve always loved police stuff, true crime and crime drama, and then the show kind of built out of that.”

Kay then wrote an initial script, but the premise – which goes against the grain by being extremely intimate rather than high-concept or lavish – meant it was tricky to find a home for the show. That’s where Netflix came in, with the streamer taking the potential scale of the show in a different direction by turning it into an international format.

“Initially, we were trepidatious,” Field Smith admits. “But it’s been the most amazing adventure.”


Because, well, money. You make CSI: New York and you have 12 millions of people who would watch that show just because they live in New York (or there everyday). Far more than if you make CSI: Wyoming.

People are just more willingly to subscribe to Netflix because they have a show in their own language, that are somehow connected to them locally and have a country tag in the title.

It is unusual because you are thinking in the old tv corporations style. Netflix don't care about that. They don't care to glue you to their channel at certain time with certain top show. Because you can watch all series at once at any, chosen by you, time. But you pay for a whole month of watching. So they need something that will make you pay for another one. Hence made for cheap easy in production "bait".

  • Well, I am a bit unsure how many people would sign to Netflix to watch THREE 50 minutes episodes of a series in their language. Unless you are trying to say that Netflix is trying to sell cheap garbage because people already paid for a whole month, doesn't matter is there anything to watch or not and this show is a sort of a gap-filler. But if so, it is strangely well advertised and David Tennant ("dr Who", "Jessica Jones") as a suspect wouldn't be cheap.
    – Yasskier
    Sep 25, 2019 at 20:25
  • @Yasskier They're selling service. Those 3 episodes are "bonus/gratis/complementary". This is working on psychological level rather than logical "goods/services for fair price". People feel valued and have better opinion about someone/something when they receive something extra. And those episodes are exactly that. Also they are less likely to cancel subscription if they have warm/nice feeling attached to service before. Sep 26, 2019 at 7:08
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    Regarding CSI, you can make spin-offs because CSI is a known show for long time.and thus far it has been popular. In this instance, Netflix just creating same (debatable) show in few different locales. It couldn't have CSI effect just because they hoped it will
    – Vishwa
    Oct 1, 2019 at 7:42

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