New!Inspector Montalbano:An Excursion To Tindari: BBC4 21st August 2011 a less than respectful review..

I couldn’t get into Inspector Montalbano. Mainly i have to admit because he wasn’t Wallander. However i was prepared to give it a try and went into it with an open mind. Yet i probably wasn’t giving it my full attention. Nor as i fully settled and committed to sitting still for one hour plus 55 minutes like i did for Wallander. Well apart from the occasional lightening quick powder break whilst fretting over what important irretrievable bit of dialogue, plot and humdrum warm humanity i had missed all the while.

Sicily is completely fabulous. Ancient of course. Vaguely i know that it has been host to or the seat of many ancient civilisations and occupations . If the latter is the correct word.

It wasn’t until near the very end they casually let slip a glimpse of the breathtaking views from seemingly dizzying heights above of crystal clear sea and waves below. This vision is the vista for the backdrop for a casual lunch in a stone eyrie of a restaurant, not even glanced at by Inspector Montalbano and Ingrid, his dinner companion. I could only think they must have climbed a lot of stone steps to get there.

We see Inspector Montalbano’s balcony of his flat which looks down onto the sea, a proper stone terraced parapet. Then the mysterious curly haired blond lady who he phones right at the end, telling her:

“It feels like you should be here when i get home”

She too has a sun struck stone terrace, burnt by blistering light just outside her tiny spotless old school kitchen. The ruffled material of the mini curtain just below her cooker was a nice touch.

We had seen a photo on Inspector M’s desk of a smiling blond lady, him and i thought a child? Ah, the stereotypical tragic death of wife story i thought. This is why he is so chaste with Ingrid, who insists on staying the night, in his bed. Seemingly unaware as i was, that Inspector M is spoken for. So why didn’t Inspector M tell Ingrid? Why the stilted teenage type questions by Inspector M the next day to Ingrid:

“Nothing happened last night did it?”

Why was he asking, was he off his head? He didn’t seem the hard drinking type. It was all very odd. Ingrid flirts verbally back saying:

“If did if you wanted it too and would that be so bad?”

Mysterious blond lady suddenly appears and cuddles up to Inspector M at the end after saying:

“We should get married like them”

Them being a woman and Inspector M’s mate who is called Mimi who i don’t think is Sicilian but not sure. But why does she live apart yet is in the photo like his wife? Maybe it is just a jolly photo of him and her and not his dear dead family and i have seen too many stereotypical Detective Dramas.

However Inspector M seems a bit old not to be married in such a traditional place. there i go again, applying stereotypes, tut tut me.

The City and towns of Sicily are ancient and likewise all the buildings. Inspector M and his friend (who works with him but his job is not clear) go to see two bodies at the bottom of some ancient walls that they have to climb up and down ladders to get to. This is not remarked upon and carried off with humility by Inspector M and Mimi.

The passers by in the streets look peaceful, walk dogs, are well dressed. The sunlight dapples over everything.

Inspector M gets shouted at by the eponymous Boss who demands he comes straight away and informs him that his Fiat has been seen at the home of an elderly Mafia boss. After first questioning Inspector M on his license plate to identify his car.

The elderly Mafia man, guarded by a black clad earpiece wearing young man, shakes and confesses that they did:

“terrible things”

but that they knew:

“where to draw the line over which you should not cross otherwise man becomes animal”

i didn’t give Inspector M my full attention. Yet i still don’t know if i would have followed the plot if i had. It wasn’t entirely clear. Centring around and illegal organ donation racket run by a dodgy surgeon with and unquenchable taste for expensive art who was bailed out of debt by the Mafia.

However why the couple who were murdered and i thought the centre of the investigation was not clear. Nor was the importance of the mysterious plot of land left in their will.

Inspector M goes to this plot of land and can’t get in so happening to have a tool box somewhere in his car i guess first hacksaws the padlock off. Then shoots at the lock after bashing his shoulder repeatedly into the door. This necessitates him ripping off his sky blue shirt and repeating this exercise topless. Which did bring a smile to my lips. I know, it’s sexist of me.

For some reason he was then forced (by the script) to sit about for quite a while thinking, still shirtless. He went home holding the shirt with his jacket on, bare chested underneath. I guess he really had ripped his shirt off. It appeared so at the time but my faculties, normally so acutely observant of such things, were minorly impaired at the time.

Inspector M had a lovely black furry rug of hair all over his chest and slight love handles although if he had baggier trousers they wouldn’t have shown.

i think the mysterious house on the plot of land with the lock which eventually just clicked open spontaneously after all Inspector M’s pummelling, hack sawing and shooting was some kind of den of iniquity to do with internet porn. All there was, was plug sockets. Not sure if this was connected to the surgeon and illegal donor racket or not.

The poor surgeon is cornered in a funny house that you think belongs to a very old lady and has huge plants on the table in some kind of fake Mafia bust by Inspector M. Fake in that the Surgeon thinks Inspector M is the Mafia come to kill him but obviously he isn’t. Yet Inspector M doesn’t mention this. Then Mimi and the police turn up to cover Inspector M and pretend to shoot each other but really shoot into the air. Search me..

Then Inspector M wakes up a beardy man in a blue striped cotton dressing gown and tells him to tell the story on the news about the organ scheme and tell everyone that the elderly Mafia man is dead. Even tho he isn’t but he is waiting for a kidney. Not clear if this is to protect the elderly repentant Mafia man or that he will soon be dead if they have locked up the dodgy surgeon.

That’s about it. Plus Inspector M is seriously hot. Completely my cup of tea. Baldy with a shaved head at the sides. Please, just shave it guys, the Monk look is so not in. (except for Monks of course) Lovely jackets. Great pad. Doesn’t smoke. Nobody smokes in Sicily. A bit unlikely. Has a sense of humour. Is very clever. Sparkling eyes. Pairs his mate off with a beautiful girl just so he doesn’t get married to a policewoman and have to be transferred away.

There are several caricatures; of Cartella, the dopey Policeman and a wound up middle aged woman who complains of her neighbour and girls “groaning” which she replicates then looks up at Inspector M declaring:

“I’m still a young woman!”

Plus at one point Inspector M falls asleep whilst watching the porn tapes that are part of the investigation and wakes up to a whole crowd of Police and nosy neighbours outside his door.

Inspector M figures out a Science fiction story about robots as a cover for the tale of organ donation and darkly mutters about children being involved. He also mentions paedophiles in relation to the mysterious internet porn house, now empty.

Yet in the end, since as he has said:they will do nothing because of the important business men and Mafia involved. There is just the press release, that’s it.

I think the humour, that might as well be subtitled by (boom boom!) plus the supposed small town characters and life somewhat offensively caricatured is meant to be a counterpoint to the dark deeds and discoveries. Like in Wallander. (ok i’m obsessed) However it doesn’t work. Maybe you have to stick with if for it to grow on you.

I did enjoy hearing spoken Italian and extremely fast, faster than i have ever heard. Not that i’ve heard a lot. The shouty, over expression stuff i did wonder if it was a little stereotyped.

Fabulous Sicily, beautiful sea. Hot Inspector. A little formulaic. Dunno if i will bother again although mildly enjoyable i wouldn’t reverentially set aside my Saturday night and look forward to it as a feast of skilful acting and genuine full fledged surprising and spectacular human vagaries that was my beloved Wallander.

transcripts of my comments on James Donaghy’s Guardian Blog on The Killing Remake Channel 4 Thursdays @9pm:Episode 8

  • 26 August 2011 1:43AM

    @James Donaghy:

    like Digby Chicken Caesar! truly hilarious:))and wasn’t that a brainwave of Linden’s to phone Mohammed? a light bulb popped above her head after somebody bumped into her! perhaps they were on the phone?

    @All:

    yes, and then poor benighted Mohammed runs even though he doesn’t know Linden by sight! before she calls out “Stop! Police!” Odd that.

    during this unexciting chase through the market funky music plays..Mo is faced with gun pointing cops in front and behind:

    “Get down on your knees!” and starts praying. Obviously thinking he’s about to be shot or taken to Guantanamo..

    Also interesting was the opening scene in which the phone conversation in Arabic from Bennet to Mohammed is replayed. Unaccountably the language now is sounding very like Japanese! Even the Muslim translator hasn’t noticed! Real Arabic is only heard in the final interview with Mo..

    Holderism:

    “All we have to do now is cross the i’s and dot the t’s” Which newly fake-Fair Isle jumpered Linden repeats back to him.. Holder:

    “maybe i could teach Algebra..if Oakes has his head up his a** 181/2″ and the Judge has his head up his a** 51/2feet, how many inches is that?”!

    Poor Bennet, even the school Principal can’t pronounce his name right, then Amber goes all Judas on him…

    Richmond goes to see the Iman who also is shown wearing his prayer cap like a beanie hat as was the original shopkeeper and is not Somalian and has a very corny accent.

    Iman:

    “How can i trust you and your Government?”

    Richmond:

    “It’s not mine, it’s both our government”

    (is this a moral message?)

    Mitch turns into Herman Munster, looming into view. For her, pale and staring, equals grief. (sorry but she doesn’t compare well with Pernille and is unfortunately forever typecast for me as the mad Maenad in True Blood) Mitch to Linden:

    “You told me it was over!”

    (yes, that was dumb Linden)

    more Holderism:

    “I’m no good at this racial profiling”

    ( err, none of you are, the producers, the script, the actors..even the interpreter was repeating what seemed to be Japanese, not Arabic earlier)

    Richmond in a bar with Gwen:

    Richmond is drinking. Americans only do that in Dramas when they are really depressed or, you know, Lost..

    Richmond:

    “Lily, she loved this song!”

    Boy, they play miserable songs in this Bar, real loud.(Sarah Vaughn?)

    “She drove off, alone, that night..i stopped listening..”

    Gwen:

    “then listen to her now”!

    Gwen leaves. No one else in the bar..

    Munster Mitch is crying in the bedroom. Stan looking like there’s a bad smell.Mitch:

    “You let him go, he killed our daughter!”

    Did anybody ever actually say that?

    nb. syrupy scene of the week:

    Stan helps little girl with bike:

    “Be careful!”

    As she goes off in slo-mo whilst mushy music plays..

    Richmond pleads for 5 million Dollars from Drexler to “rebuild the Somalian community.” (That’s a lot of money for repainting a Mosque.) Drexler:

    “5 million for this shot!”

    (Oh dear how tiresome)

    Richmond:

    “then i keep the ball and wont need you..”

    Drexler:

    “Guys like you always need guys like me”..

    Holder questions Mohammed:(finally the translator is actually talking Arabic)

    “You’re in some deep shit..couldn’t wait for the 72 virgins huh?”

    (Oh.Dear.)

    Holder and Linden display a lamentable lack of knowledge about F.G.M.

    (12 is a bit old for F.G.M & pretty sure Ayesha isn’t Somalian either)

    Final montage:

    Stan beats up Bennet who screams.

    Mitch finds the pink T-shirt in the washing:oops!

    Belko is beating up a rock:painful! Whilst Stan pulverises Bennet..

    Amber twiddles mobile in the cot.

    Holder & Linden:

    “Holder:

    “Need an APB on a Latin male!” (?!) unless i misheard

    Stan & Belko stand over the possibly dead figure of Bennet in the blue night.

    Where did they get the giant rock?

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