Mafia drama Romanzo Criminale - preview
The Italian crime series follows in the footsteps of Wallander, The Killing and Spiral
A trio of tough guys beat up an old man with a full wallet. Except they picked on the wrong pensioner as his immediate act of bloody retribution proves, before we are swept back in time to 1977 and to a Rome burning with political murders, bombs, drug-running, kidnappings and bearded wannabe Mafiosi urinating against a tree together. And so begins the crime drama which La Stampa dubbed ‘the best television series ever produced in Italy’.
Romanzo Criminale (Sky Arts, Tue 4 Oct, 9pm) centres on a young firebrand called Lebanese whose desire to rise to the top of the criminal pile is matched only by his ability in surrounding himself with buffoons: keys to a contraband truck go missing; corpses are buried on a construction site; a hostage-taker makes a ransom phone call but nearly chokes on the ping pong ball he uses to disguise his voice.
Meanwhile, an idealistic cop making steps up his own career ladder appears to be the only person not in the pay of the Mafia or corrupt officials as he attempts to knobble the gang’s operation. Whether a series like Romanzo Criminale would have seen the light of day over here even a couple of years ago is debatable, but the success of European crime dramas such as Wallander, The Killing and Spiral has opened up a few new avenues for those whose brains have yet to be dulled by a constant stream of Cowell culture.