Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
German period drama Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood promises a lot in its title. There’s certainly a lot of beer here and more than a fair share of blood spilled too. Depicting the birth of the German beer festival Oktoberfest, Netflix’s latest foreign acquisition is certainly a brilliantly boozy series.
Split across 6 digestible episodes, Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood blends elements of Peaky Blinders with a more conventional period drama style. Instead of leaning into the gang warfare like BBC’s flagship series though, Oktoberfest instead keeps this at arm’s length for much of its run-time.
In essence, this is really a historical recreation of an important event in history (which is also based on true events) while teasing a big familial conflict that never quite hits the dramatic peaks it could have done.
Still, the series does what it sets out to do and will almost certainly appease fans of both German dramas and period history pieces. Those looking for another gang-centric series like Gangs Of London or Suburra though may find this one a bit disappointing.
To backtrack though, the series opens with a very ominous and dark scene to kick things off. A tribal warrior fishes out a severed head from the water. As she walks back to her tribe, the camera pans out to show this backdropped by the neighboring city of Munich.
Big cultural changes are afoot here, and at the heart of this lies Curt Prank. He has plans to revolutionize Oktoberfest and introduce a mammoth 6000-person tent to the event in order to shake up the festivities.
Mr Urban laughs him out the building until Prank shows his cunning side, essentially blackmailing the man into playing ball. This sets in play a dangerous feud with a luckless family known as the Hoflinger’s who are caught in the cross-fire.
Beloved in their tight-knit community, Ignatz tries his best to fight against this cultural wave of change for his brewery. This stubbornness drives a wedge between him and his older brother Roman, who wants to see them diversify and break into the export business.
When a murder in the family occurs, it serves as the catalyst for a bitter rivalry between the Hoflinger and Prank families. This is then complicated further by an illicit romance brewing between Prank’s daughter Clara and Roman.
This serves as the foamy froth atop the fizzy beer beneath where forces mobilize to undermine both families. The conflict comes to a head late on where big moves are made and the finale wraps things up with a satisfying enough conclusion. There is, however, enough scope for a second season but whether Netflix will green-light this or not remains to be seen.
One thing’s for sure though, the production value to this show is excellent. The music is suitably moody, with a couple of nicely places musical montages throughout.
That’s to say nothing of the various fade edits either, which are used constantly throughout the show. While that does give this a slightly dated feel, the sweeping establishing shots across the lavish landscape are enough to overlook this. Oktoberfest is quite the looker too and there’s some great visuals dotted throughout this series that are well worth sticking around for.
If you can take to the tone offered up in the first episode, this is definitely one you’ll stick with for the long haul. The characters are well written and intriguing, although admittedly a little basic in their motivations.
That’s to say nothing of a few late-season contrivances that do hold the story back slightly. Still, these are minor points in what’s otherwise a solid series.
Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood is a decent period drama that serves up a cold enough brew and enough bad blood to make this a bold ensemble worth checking out.