DVD Review: DETECTIVE MONTALBANO (IL COMMISSARIO MONTALBANO), Episodes 29 & 30 (MHz Releasing)

by Dale Reynolds on July 30, 2017

in CD-DVD

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A SERIES YOU CAN’T REFUSE

The Italian TV series Detective Montalbano (Il commissario Montalbano) has lasted eighteen blessed years. Since 1999, Detective/Commissario Salvo Montalbano (Luca Zingaretti)—56, stocky, well-built, and handsome—has loved, of all things, solving local crimes, mostly murder, and not all committed by the Mafia.

Beautifully shot, the show glamorizes Sicily, not generally a showcase for Italy, especially when compared to Roma, Venetia, Napoli, or Milano. But the countryside, its beaches, and the mountainous towns and cities are superbly presented to us, which should help tourism (not that we tourists are ever represented in said crimes in these stories).

Based on the excellent series of crime novels by Andrea Camilleri, which features this lead detective in a small province of Ragusa, on the eastern coast, the latest two episodes of 2017 are #29 (“A Nest of Vipers”) and #30 (“According to Protocol”).

In the first episode, a man reviled by most of the town is discovered dead in his study by his adult son. When Montalbano and his team begin to investigate, it is learned that two different people, neither of whom knew of the other, have contributed to his demise: one by gunshot, one by poison.

So who would kill this well-to-do man who had a dreadful way of dealing with women? Who benefits from his demise? Well, obviously, what with this kind of show being what it is, the team in this small fictional community of Vigata uncovers the killer’s names and faces.

At the start of “According to Protocol,” the second episode just released on DVD from MHz Networks, we see a beautiful, scantily-clad young woman driving erratically at night, finally stumbling into the lobby of an apartment building, where she promptly dies. No one in the building admits to knowing her, so why did she pick this somewhat nondescript building? And what did she die of? Montalbano and his effective squad, naturally, will answer those pertinent questions by the end. And his beloved Livia (Katarina Bohm), who lives and works in Naples, comes to visit, satisfying his more, shall we say, physical and emotional needs.

In addition, our intrepid sleuth meets a judge who walks by his house-on-the-beach daily, learning that he is suffering from a major regret over a three-decades-old case. His encounters with the elderly man teach him more about how to endure sorrow and face ones failures head on.

The show was (and remains) a solid depository for intelligent writing (Francesco Bruni, Salvatore De Mola, Leonardo Marini), directing (Alberto Sironi this season), and the fulsome acting, starting with Zingaretti, with strong support from Peppino Mazzotta as sensible Agent Fazio, Cesare Bocci as Mimi Augello, the tiresome womanizer, and Angelo Russo as the bumbling clown in the station, Fazio. Marcello Perracchio, the magnificent Sicilian character actor who played the overworked coroner Doc Pasquano in all 30 Detective Montalbano movies, passed away a few days ago, July 28, 2017, at the age of 79.

The scenery, both on the coast and inland, is more beautiful than one might expect, and the violence is kept at a distance. It’s fantastic entertainment with all the elements of elegance surrounding it. This show is a keeper.

stills courtesy of MHz Releasing

Detective Montalbano (Il commissario Montalbano)
Episodes 29 & 30
MHz Networks
released June 27, 2017
2 DVD set | 233 minutes | Italian with English Subtitles
available at MHz Releasing or Amazon

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