Salamander-Minor Spoilers-BBC4 or Channel number 107 on Virgin TV on Saturdays @ 9pm-in Flemish with English subtitles-two episodes back to back

Salamander BBC4

Nb. A Belgian Crime thriller centring around a bank robbery which is in progress in the opening scene.

So Flemish started off sounding like Swedish, then I noticed words sounding like German ones: Eich, Nei, then people lapsed into French.  English words like minute, stop were there amongst others.

The head of the highly professional high tech bank robbers looks a little like a swarthy black haired Patrick Swaze.  The Detective, Geraldi, reminds me of a younger Donald Sutherland.  All white shirt and jeans and a piercing look beneath curly white hair.

The interiors are all fabulously stylish and or original period.  From which period I’m not sure.  A proud boast of the safety of the security vault in the bank is that it was built in the war.  Not sure which war.  World War II presumably.  Belgian street scenes are near empty and pristine.

A fair amount of the men involved in offices are prone to popping things either in the drawer of their desk or
extracting a gun from it and discharging it forthwith into themselves.

The head of the private bank is an enormous bullet shaped head monolith who spits on a photo and declares him a traitor as he throws the photo, glass and all, across the room.  If i explain it will give it away and this is only the first episode.

After being spoilt with Scandinavian dramas lately, not to mention Orphan Black, it is slightly depressing and even odd to see the women characters reduced back down to the officially vulnerable wife and grieving wife.

Even worse: the help-meet secretaries padding around the illustriously appointed Bank offices, asking if their boss wants a roll, their coffee and incessantly bringing them inexplicable small and unidentified snacks to their desk.

Even declaring that their boss must be hungry and should eat something.

The Detective’s wife is slightly less 1950’s from the rest of the women. Come to think of it, there doesn’t appear to be any women detectives, or Federal Agents of the CID to give  Paul Geradi, the hunky Detective his correct term.  His office is in Brussels.

Oh well, once you have accepted that even the working women’s outfits look like they stepped out of a 50’s magazine it is all really rather good.

At the end of the second episode, intrepid hero Geradi pulls up at a massive, beautiful building.  Blimey, has he gone to see the Queen I briefly wondered?  Not even knowing if Belgium has a Queen. But no, it’s a Monastery, whose door mysteriously creaks open on ringing the bell.

Inside, some possibly Trappist or Franciscan monks, since they have long brown robes with hooded cowls, are singing Kyrie Eleison.

Geradi just lounges in the wooden pew.  Looking.  Ah.  Shortly one of the monks will turn and look at him.  He has come for help, succour, advice or sanctuary.  Either that or the monk is his brother.  Betcha.

(Secretly i quite like these monk robes. Although a hard look to pull off down the street, specially as a woman.  I did once have a long blue cloak with a huge hood as part of a school uniform.  However they made me give it back.  The barstewards.)

So we have the classic set up of righteous wronged innocent on the run.  In this case, the Cop or Federal Agent, Geradi.  We are so familiar with this trope I was wondering just how long he was going to carry on driving the same car and at what moment Geradi would go rogue and break into a new one for his cover.

Quite a long time apparently.  Although Geradi did get new Sim cards and phones for his family.  To no avail as we see the Ministry of Justice men listening in on all his phone calls in the preview for the next two episodes.  Oh well.

I also found myself waiting, I don’t know why exactly, to see if we would be party to the story of the hunters of Geraldi, the shadowy Justice Ministry men.  Who suffered various almost amusing mishaps in their pursuit of Geraldi.

The Ministry men talked in highly organised and efficient terms of clean ups and the rearranging of suicides into entirely different places backed up by family testimonies.

 Oh yes and the story from the side of the various politicians and Ministers involved.

Well it happened as i had hoped.  So we will be following the story from all sides, Geraldi, the Ministry of Justice men and the criminals who carried out the bank job.  Excellent.  I will attempt to learn some show off words in Belgian to sprinkle about here casually too.

Next week the plot thickens.  I predict the possibly Franciscan Priest will be called into help Geraldi.  Long lost brother at least.

I notice the Belgians are more bothered about blinds than the Scandinavians.  Adorable moulded but uncomfortable looking red designer stools with beautiful white stemmed table in Geraldi’s flat.

Low level lamps everywhere and artful leather chairs abound.  Interestingly, the lamps were revealed to be made from thick woven wood in the light of day.  Most unusual.  Although they only lit downwards.  I want one.

The offices of the private bank,as mentioned are as palatial and period as the office of the mysterious Mr.
Persigal, the Public Prosecutor.  The organization of the legal system and beautiful ancient rooms are reminiscent of those seen in Sicily in the series of Inspector Montalbano.  Exactly what period they date from is unknown.

I am really enjoying Salamander so far.  Plus the opening and closing credits which slowly bleed red and pop small holes into the liquid like old film disintegrating as we watch embellished with the titular Salamander are retro old school cool.

I always am fascinated in being a metaphorical viewer of a country unknown.  Exploring its alternate universe.  What is different?  What’s the same.  The angry Police Chief, answering to his superiors.  He’s the same.  The fugitive on the run too. OK, just Belgium and the language then,  a polyglot of French, English, Flemish and some English words.

I did at first think Urban Scholiers, the ill-fated security alarm man’s name was his criminal underworld name but no, that was his real name.  Mr. Persigal,. through seemingly fairly evil in all is still slightly amusing as a

& Just what was the mysterious round white wrapped object that the ever obsequious secretary brought Mr. Persigal with his glass of water?  I was fascinated by that.  Mr. Persigal, who seemed to be staving off weeping on hearing the fate of the Bank manager.  Were they  related i wondered?

All this and more we may discover or not.  & is that a Channel suit worn by Mr. Persigal’s secretary?
 Who I was secretly hoping was in on the plot just to give her a bit of the evils.

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