Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Trivial Heat

Back in the nineties, when there was not much to do in Serbia but watch TV, several famous western TV shows found their audience in Serbia as well: Only Fools and Horses, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Miami Vice, The Simpsons, The X Files, Tropical Heat, Beverly Hills 90210… wait, what? Tropical Heat? What the hell is that?

Wikipedia says:

Tropical Heat (aka Sweating Bullets) was a Canadian TV series (...) released between 1991 and 1993 (...). It was about two private investigators, ex-police officer Nick Slaughter and ex-tourist agent Silvie Girard, solving a variety of different cases.

Here’s the show’s opening credits theme song:

Plain and simple. The series didn’t run long in the US, but it did get a cult following in Serbia, exactly because it was so simple and straightforward – beaches, bikinis, good guys vs bad guys – just like in Serbia at the time, except for the beaches and bikinis. Local pranksters wrote a graffiti in a Belgrade suburb that spread quickly because it rhymed (in Serbian: “Sloteru Niče, Žarkovo ti kliče”) in such a silly way it was brilliant – “Nick Slaughter, Zarkovo hails to you”, which later turned into – “Nick Slaughter, Serbia hails to you”, and eventually an anti-Milosevic protest sign “Nick Slaughter for president”. Actually, anyone would have been a better president than Milosevic at that moment, but I guess a lot of people were so hypnotized by Mr Slaughter’s chest hair that he seemed like an obvious choice.

So why do I mention this trivial TV show all of a sudden? Because Rob Stewart, the actor who played Nick Slaughter in the show, while surfing on the internet recently, found out about the show’s cult status in Serbia. Apparently he was so intrigued after learning that a Novi Sad punk band Atheist Rap even dedicated a song to Nick Slaughter, that he decided to come and make a documentary about the whole thing.

It doesn’t get any more trivial than this, folks – exactly the type of news Belgraded likes the most. (unless, of course, it’s all a clever April fool’s day joke)

UPDATE: Here’s Nik Sloter’s first press conference in Serbia, so I guess it’s officially not a joke :)


25 Responses to “Trivial Heat”

  1. Owen says:

    How on earth did anyone anywhere outside the UK come to terms with with ”’Allo ‘Allo”?

    It started off as quite a good take-off of “Secret Army”, a drama series about the WWII “Underground Railway”, which I don’t suppose ever made it to the outside world, but ‘A’A became a success in its own right and became a monster that devoured its own origins.

    The reason it was so successful in the UK was its easy-going satire of ordinary human behaviour warts and all, but given the basic setting sometimes the humour had all the sensitivity of a hippo shaking hands with the river-bank. You must have had some good sub-titlers to get the humour across.

    I t think “Tropical Heat” must have passed below the radar.

  2. ida says:

    Also, this actor says he has an adopted brother whom they found out to be an ethnic Serb:

    “I would also like to mention that I have a younger brother who was adopted by my parents when he was five and the only information we had about him was that his name was John. Years later we found his birth certificate and found out that he is Serbian and that his actual name is Branko!...”

  3. Woa! That show looks bad..

  4. Viktor says:

    @Owen: I think Allo Allo has very common humor, ie, comprehensible to most Europeans, not just UK. All foreign shows and movies are always subtitled here so we could hear the different accents used by various nationalities in Allo Allo. I think the biggest challenge was to translate officer Crabtree, and the original translator to Serbian did a very good job there, using bad grammar and spelling on purpose. For example, it is a common joke here to say “Dobar jutar” instead of “Dobro jutro” [Crabtree’s “good moaning”] to someone and everybody knows where the joke’s from.

    @Ida: Yeah, remember when I wrote the news can’t get nay more trivial, I was wrong!

    @Icorp – Some detective skills you got there! The show is infact very bad, but that’s why it was so good! :)

  5. Owen says:

    “Good moaning” delivered the essence of British life to an anxiously waiting world!

  6. Danilo in Vancouver says:

    This absolutely blows me away.

    That some terrible CANADIAN action-adventure would have been such a phenomenon in Serbia.

    In Canada, occasionally the government throws money at Canadian film/TV productions out of some collective national insecurity over being such a sparsely-populated country next to the USA.

    The result is aways terrible. That one of these shows would somehow become a phenomenon anywhere is completely blowing my mind.

    I’ll be writing friends of mine in the film/tv industry over the next few days to see if anyone knows anything about this – I suspect most wouldn’t have a clue that this happened and will be bemused.

  7. Danilo in Vancouver says:

    This kind of reminds me, and I don’t mean to be offencive or patronizing, of the Star Trek (original series) episode where some 1920s gangster novel is left accidentally on a developing planet and the whole civilization accepts it as a bible and builds their civilization around it for generations.

  8. Henk says:

    Danilo bro,its very simple why Nick Slauhter has cult status in Serbia.
    He looks and he acts just like classic serbian macho man.
    1.Hairy chests and good sence of humour
    2.His pets are gun and a jeep
    3.His fave trophys are beautiful chicks.
    Does that ring a bell?

  9. Danilo in Vancouver says:

    I’m not so much in awe of “why was this popular”. What is astonishing me is the particular and peculiar confluence of forces that gave rise to this phenomenon.

    Understand this: In all likelihood, this show was not meant to be watched by anyone. Or, the people that paid for it to be made, didn’t care if anyone watched it. It (and other shows) was created to fulfill a high-minded and poorly-executed will of the government of Canada to stimulate the Canadian film industry and stimulate Canadian culture-products (as it is sometimes of concern to those whom it concerns that Candians largely consume American culture-products (TV, radio, magazines)). So, TV stations would pay as little money as possible to produce “Canadian” content, so they would be allowed to show the shows that people really wanted to see (ie, American ones). So, that’s not to say that everyone involved in it didn’t do a great job (I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen it), but those who made it, paid for it, did it for reasons completely unrelated to making a TV show.

    In short: CTV made Tropical Heat to fulfill a regulatory requirement and RTS ended up with it because it probably cost them next to nothing to pick it up (they basically fished it out of the garbage.)

    So, strange Canadian telecommunications regulatory requirement, meets isolated, broke country, meets a people desparate for schlocky escapism, meets massive national political protests and voila a conter-cultural icon…... geeze. I dunno, I’m still processing this.

    I hope the CRTC is patting themselves on the back, but I doubt anyone even knows about this.

  10. Danilo in Vancouver says:

    I keep thinking about this!

    Something is weird about this. Actors get paid every time a show gets re-run. How could he only find out now that he’s a hit. Wasn’t he getting paid his royalties?

  11. Viktor says:

    “Actors get paid every time a show gets re-run”

    I don’t think this is true for every show.

  12. Danilo in Vancouver says:

    I’m still asking around, but it’s pretty rare. No serious actor (ie, someone who hoped to continue any kind of acting career) would accept a job on a 3 year series and agree to waive his royalties. It’s a career killer. No one is going to take you seriously in the business after that.

    It’s possible that he was getting paid his royalties when the show was being rerun but didn’t know anything about ratings or popularity, getting paid the same no matter who or if anyone was actually watching.

  13. Katarina says:

    @Danilo, in your question about royalties lies an answer about this phenomenon. only in an isolated, no-law country, as serbia was in 90, could one ‘lame’ tv series be broadcasted endless number of times, in strange hours (from morning till night, you could basically stumble upon Nick S whenever you turn tv on :) , in sole purpose of entertaining and filling the gaps in program. I believe nobody cared about royalties then :)
    Strange as it may sound, Nick Slaughter was different and funny tv show in comparison to grim surrounding, only problem was to find an episode you haven’t already watched.

    It’s not that we loved that TV show… we were almost forced to watch it, in the absence of something better. And the best thing is that they (pranksters form Zarkovo, students…) turned the ‘essence of boredome’ to something useful and optimistic.

    Rob, welcome to Serbia and I hope you’ll become president this time!

  14. Ognjen not in Vancuver says:

    Danilo brother you need to relax about the show and not get so excited aobut it man. You are calling it terrible, garbage, waste of time and then you say you haven’t seen it. What are you saying all TV shows or movies made in Canada are bad? Buddy, this show was great I loved it and so did many other people. Just because you say it’s bad without having even seen it doesn’t make it so. You are talking about “particular and peculiar confluence of forces that gave rise to this phenomenon”, man, are you kidding me? Why are you so upset about it, the show was just popular, there is no deeper meaning than that. I didn’t watch it to find out some universal thruts about life in it, I watched it becasue I liked the beach, the girls in bikinis and the jeep. I was 12-13 at the time and I loved it, even now I would watch it. Just take a pill to relax and stop killing yourself over it man, it’s just a nice show that everybody could enjoy. Peace out, brother, don’t let it get to you so bad.

  15. Deki NS says:

    Rob aka Nick Sloter performed yesterday one song with Atheist Rap (punk-rock band from Novi Sad), in Novi Sad on Punk Festival (To be Punk). Over 1.500 people saluted Nick Sloter.
    In my opinion he (Rob Stewart) had maybe the time of his life in these few days that he spent in Serbia. I presume that he understood the completely story about his popularity in Serbia, and that he enjoyed in circumstances.
    This story, at least for me, is simple putted GREAT !!! Rob Stewart tasted his 5 minutes of glory when he probably expected that the least, and people from Serbia (that were 12-18 years old when Tropical Heat broadcasted) had opportunity to welcome one person that represented positive, sunny :) things in these dark times.
    Anyway, GREAT TRUE STORY !!!!

  16. Sladjana says:

    Yes, we are all well aware that it was a trivial, very trivial seria. However in those years, all we have to watch were political and war lies on State TV. We didn’t have cable TV or internet, we couldn’t travel, everything was just awfull in our lives, and our only escape was Nick Slaughter on sunny beaches. Later we were laughing on this seria, but Nick stayed in our minds as something nice that helped us to live thrue the horrific days. I am very, very glad this guy came to Serbia, and I hope from my whole heart that he would have a great time here. I wish him all the best.

  17. Petar23 says:

    i think that rob stewart “nick slaughter” deserves a serbian passport…

  18. Henk says:

    It could be dangerous for domestic politicians, because then he could participate in elections for president of Serbia and he could easily win.

  19. SONY says:

    Well, Nik (Rob) as president! That might be a good solution for serbian politics in general. Just, two hours ago I had opportunity to watch popular tv show “Fajront Republika” that broadcasted on Fox Serbia. Rob is really big star, no doubt. In the end I have to say that possitive expirience will show real image of Serbia, and all bad years, that belong to past times. That is biggest legacy that one tv show could ever fullfil, even if is just ordinary tv show with low aestethic or any content.

  20. Danilo says:

    Hey Ogi.

    I think you misunderstand my interest in this. I’m simply amused that this phenomenon could have happened if it weren’t for a number of strange forces, namely Canadian regulatory requirements.

    I have seen the pilot on youtube and, yes, Canadian produced TV shows are all famously bad.

    @Katarina. Thanks for your great response :)

  21. Zoran says:

    I can’t believe that anyone admits to watching that show. I live in the US, but I gather that it was never watched or taken seriously in Canada. It’s an aberration of Canadian content requirements. I can understand if nothing else was available in the 90’s. But to still have some kind of attachment to that kind of discarded Canadian crap is silly.

  22. jovana says:

    he’s awful actor from second rate Canadian show. Seriously. Sad.

  23. MATEVŽ says:

    Matevž from Slovenia,NICK IS THE DICK.loool i love that man,coolest guy ever!!!

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