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.

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