Streets of broken lampposts

Streets of Smashed Lampposts (Улицы разбитых фонарей), or Menty (Менты; a usually derogatory word for cops) is a long-running Russian police procedural. It’s been going since 1998, and there are now 16 seasons. Each episode features a different case to be solved, while also describing the everyday lives of Russian police officers; it’s similar in some ways to Law & Order. It won several TEFI (ТЭФИ) awards, Russia’s film/TV awards, in the beginning years of its existence.

The show takes place in a regional police department (РУВД—региональное управление внутренных дел) in St. Petersburg. There is an enormous number of characters who have revolved in and out over the many seasons. Some of the longer-running include Yuriy Petrenko, aka Mukhomor (Юрый Петренко / Мухомор), who led the RUVD in question for the first four seasons. There’s also Oleg Solovets (Олег Соловец) and Vyacheslav Volkov (Вячеслав Волков), leaders of the homicide unit, and Nikolay Dymov (Николай Дымов) and Andrey Rydanov (Андрей Рыданов), both of whom were detectives in the homicide unit for many seasons. Boris Cherdyntsev (Борис Чердынцев), a duty officer, seems to be the only character who has been on the show over the whole course of its existence. The family members of the detectives also sometimes get their screen time.

The plots of most episodes follow familiar lines: the detectives begin an investigation, only to have it interrupted by an order from above; evidence is mysteriously found in one of the detectives’ private lockers; a witness to a crime is threatened. There’s also plot lines that will be less familiar to American audiences: the cops clash with military soldiers involved in a murder; a veteran of the Afghan war becomes the new head of the police department. In the 10th season, the structure changes somewhat, as the RUVD is put in charge of crimes that are difficult to assign to one regional police department, and thus the detectives increase their jurisdiction over Petersburg.

The series has spawned both official and unofficial spin-offs: a few related films and three spin-off TV shows, of which one, Liteyniy (Литейный), is still airing new episodes.

 

Creator: Aleksandr Kapitsa (Александр Капица)
Stars: Yuriy Kuznetsov (Юрий Кузнецов), Aleksandr Polovtsev (Александр Половцев), Mikhail Trukhin (Михаил Трухин), Yevgeniy Dyatlov (Евгений Дятлов), Oleg Andreev (Олег Андреев), Boris Cherdyntsev (Борис Чердынцев), and others
Production company: various
TV channel: currently NTV

 

The show’s website on TV channel NTV.

 

The show’s first-ever episode:

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.