'Vienna Blood' Will Run On Masterpiece In January

(Credit: Courtesy of Petro Domenigg / © 2019 Endor Productions / MR Film)

PBS will bring a brand new mystery series to American shores this winter, as Masterpiece will run with Vienna Blood. The series, which recently finished airing on BBC Two, will arrive on this side of the pond in January.

The new series is a period piece set at the turn of the century in Vienna, Austria. (Meaning the turn of the last century, the end of the Victorian era, not the turn of our century, which is rapidly becoming a period piece era of its own.) Based on the Liebermann books by author Frank Tallis, it stars Matthew Beard (The Imitation Game, Dracula) as the story's hero, Max Liebermann, 20-something middle-class British-Jew who moved to Austria in his teens. A doctor and a student of the famous Sigmund Freud, Lieberman finds himself making friends with Detective Oskar Rheinhardt, played by Jürgen Maurer. The two of them team up in a Sherlockian style partnership, with Liebermann the Watson to Rheinhardt's bloodhound.

Unlike Watson, however, Liebermann has a family. His parents are Mendel and Rachel Liebermann, played by Colenth Hill (Game of Thrones) and Amelia Bullmore (Gentleman Jack). His widowed older sister, Leah (Charlene McKenna), has a son, Daniel, as well. These characters are significant, as the growing anti-Semitism of the era in this time and place (1906) will affect them, especially the deeper Max gets into the line of work. 

Here's PBS' synopsis:

Cultures and ideas collide in 1900s Vienna, Austria, where opulent cafes and opera houses set the scene for heated discussions about philosophy, science and art. When Max Liebermann, one of Sigmund Freud’s young, brilliant students, encounters a detective inspector facing a strange case, he decides to help investigate a series of unusual and chilling murders. Max draws upon his perception and forensics skills, along with his deep understanding of human behavior and deviance, to solve some of Vienna’s most mysterious and deadly cases.

According to the BBC:

Max is keen to understand the criminal mind and begins to observe Oskar Rheinhardt (Jürgen Maurer), a Detective Inspector in the Vienna Police Department, who is struggling with a perplexing case. Max’s extraordinary skills of perception and forensics, and his deep understanding of human behaviour and deviance, help Oskar solve Vienna’s most mysterious cases.

There are six Tallis books altogether featuring Liebermann and Rheinhardt: A Death in Vienna, Vienna Blood, Fatal Lies, Vienna Secrets, Vienna Twilight, and Death & The Maiden. On the BBC, the show ran as a three feature-length episode series, with the first episode based on the mystery of the opening novel, A Death in Vienna, the second on the book the show takes its title from, Vienna Blood, and so on. PBS will, as it is wont to do, split the three episodes into six installments over January and February, each of which runs about 45-50 minutes each.

Tallis said of his two main characters:

It is through Rheinhardt that Liebermann becomes involved with police investigations, applying his psychoanalytic knowledge – particularly when suspects are interviewed. Liebermann’s technique, of course, is to allow unconscious processes to betray their misdemeanours ‘through every pore’... There are many commonalities that link detection and psychoanalysis. Fundamentally, Sigmund Freud and Sherlock Holmes were in the same business.

Vienna Blood begins on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, airing at 10 p.m. ET on most PBS stations. As always, check your local listings.