While channel surfing in 2004, Lutz Dammbeck saw the West German TV game-show host Joachim Fuchsberger explain that he had based his successful early-1960s game show, Nur nicht nervös werden (Just Don’t Get Nervous), on an American show called Beat the Clock, which made use of games developed for use in psychiatric therapy. When asked how many patients had watched his show, Fuchsberger answered: “A nation! A crazy… mentally disturbed nation!” In exploring how (West) Germans could have been considered mentally disturbed, Dammbeck uncovered the mid-20th century psychiatric theories that underpinned the American denazification and reeducation program in West Germany.
In this painstakingly researched film essay, Dammbeck picks up some of the threads he began pursuing in The Net (2003). He attempts to determine if Fuchsberger’s claims are true and, in the process, explores the concept of a permanent revolution. For this film, which took almost 10 years to complete, Dammbeck conducted a wide range of interviews, including with American game-show producers Syd Vinnedge and Bob Boden and with Maggy von Ostrand, the secretary for Mark Goodson, the legendary producer of the American TV game show Beat the Clock.