Updated: Mar 22
Review by Chloe Long
Incest, kidnap, bribery and certain death - this show has it all.
David Schalko’s hilariously dark 2015 series Altes Geld is the perfect amalgamation of ‘Wiener Schmäh’ and Austrian decadence all wrapped up in an 8-part soap.
The Austrian drama tells the story of the billionaire Rauchensteiner family and their mission to acquire a liver for their father, Rolf (Udo Kier), who has recently been diagnosed with multiple types of hepatitis. However, there is no love lost in this family, and Rolf’s recent diagnosis is not the main concern of his close relatives. Being an evil billionaire with his fingers in all sorts of dirty pies around Vienna doesn’t make for an easy liver-hunt for Rolf, with corrupt politicians, villainous gangsters and money-hungry family members all trying to cash in on his inevitable organ failure. To increase his chances of staying alive, the family is called to a meeting by Rolf who reveals, to his wife’s dismay, that the first person to find him a liver will become the sole heir to his estate. The race is on to find the organ, by any means possible.
As the show goes on, we learn of the conflicting past of Rolf Rauchensteiner, whose mother was Jewish and whose father was held in high esteem by none other than Hitler. These conflicting familial ties lead to even more bribery, twists and turns in the path to find a liver. It is not only family members who want a piece of the action though. The story also follows the ongoing line of inquiry lead by incompetent undercover police officers, trying to bust the Rauchensteiners for their dodgy dealings in the city.
To enjoy this program as a non-native, it is important to have some form of subtitling as the Viennese dialect is, sometimes, quite difficult to grasp. However, the exuberant caricatures of the Austrian elite and their wacky lifestyles are incredibly enjoyable to watch, whilst showcasing that uniquely dark and twisted Austrian sense of humour.