Not all cops are bastards.
As I was watching episode four of the Italian series Inspector Montalbano, “The Mystery of the Terracotta Dog”, I had to remind myself that it was a whodunit revolving around an Inspector and his motley crew set in Sicily. The episode was 1 hour 45 minutes long, enough to drain the patience of an average TV watcher but still, it managed to demand my rasp attention as the narratives veered from the mafia, interpersonal relationships, and in the end a terrific love story based around a Quranic legend. Other tracks in the series have involved Montalbano falling in love with a dog, almost adopting a son and his love for croquettes.
It is in this respect that Inspector Montalbano stands apart from Columbo, Poirot, or Beck for the angelic pursuit of his trade. During his many investigations, he lets the small-time thieves, prostitutes, and illegal immigrants free, even protecting them from the nefariousness of Sicilian politics. Given the fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Italian right-wing, Montalbano comes as an agent of the State both just and clinical. Montalbano is the kind of hero we come to believe because his powers are real, we know what he eats and his morning swimming routines to keep him fit. We see his commitment (often on the fringe) to his girlfriend and when a range of women fall in love with him throughout the series, it doesn't come as a surprise. Luca Zingaretti who plays Montalbano makes one fall in love with him within the scope of an episode, from then on we're enchanted with his quirks and choices.
Inspector Montalbano is a rare police drama that does not insult one's intelligence and neither does it thrust the brutality of the world into one's face. Given the subject matter. there are hardly any grisly or risque sequences. This thematic softness is a take on the genre where the why of committing a crime is more important than the how. Given that the range of complex human interactions, the show becomes an enriching drama that probes the Sicilian life in a way that is more satisfying than the backstory of The Godfather. Montalbano has been one of the most satisfying hero stories I have seen on TV, enough to keep one engaged for more than a few months. This one is a 11/10, will recommend.
Happy New Year and see you again the next year. Thank for reading the kinocow this year and will be back with more reports in the next months.