It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

BBC4, Inspector Montalbano, Turning Point

Inspector Salvo Montalbano

Welcome back Montalbano!  Sicilian Salvo returns to salve our wounds of missing crime dramas in sunny climes.  Turning Point is also one of the best – if not the best Montalbano episode – to hit our screens from the start of our on-screen Sicilian love affair.

Shockingly, at the start of Turning Point Salvo is considering departure from the police.  With corruption recently exposed within the force he feels let down and at odds with his employer – less of a leader in his role and more of an individual.  But, in a wonderful conversation with Mimi (Augello), another perspective casts a strong light across his agenda.  Does he think again?  Across just over 1.5 hours his later actions speak louder than words here.

Mimi shows he knows himself when debating effectively with Salvo.

Swimming in the sea – as he regularly indulges – brings Salvo closer to a corpse than usual.  Taking the waistband tie from his swim trunks, he drags the body through the waves and brings it ashore.  In a few moments of comedy, with which Montalbano viewers are now very familiar, those trunks hold up through the waves but fall suddenly when a shattered Salvo faces a gun-toting and endearingly misled elderly couple on the beach.  (If you’d like to see the Montalbano posterior in all its naked glory, this is the episode for you.)

But mixed with that comedy is heart-touching humanity.  While following up on the corpse, Salvo reaches out to an illegal and running away, immigrant child.  And that proves key to the bigger picture of the episode’s plot as illegal immigrants are at its core.

The furrowed brow of a troubled man.

Like other Montalbano episodes, Turning Point is not 100% perfect.  We often have to wait to discover why Salvo has done what he has done, to be delivered in subsequent exposition tells.  (Frustrating for the viewer.)  We are also sometimes forced to wonder whether the production team takes advice from real professionals.  When it comes to the dénouement for Turning Point, Salvo’s choice of dress for a sting is perfect for a night-time operation but so ‘Look-at-Me’ for a sun-baked, late afternoon engagement.  Why the head-to-foot black?  A faded shade of beige would have done the trick there.

But these frustrating points are minor within the bigger scheme, for Salvo is a good person and a man with a heart.  He may feel he has to involve an imaginative application of the laws and rules now and again, but he’s always on the right side for justice and that’s why we love him.  He may encounter the rot in society but he also knows so many who have values like his own and like ours, and that’s why we seek to devour more of him.

Inspector Montalbano has humanity at its heart at all times; Turning Point is the showcase for this.  Don’t miss it.  Now on BBC iplayer for your delectation until 10:39PM Sat, 1 Sep 2012.

12 comments on “BBC4, Inspector Montalbano, Turning Point

  1. Sarah
    August 26, 2012

    This was my first Montabano episode (I’m going to have to catch up with series 1).I liked the humour and also the wonderful location. I thought the acting now and then was a bit off, although as you say it might have been the direction/production. But I did enjoy it.

    • crimeficreader
      August 26, 2012

      Sarah, I have seen others comment about the acting but I have not found it so bad. (I suspect this is because I am reading the sub-titles.) Which bits did you find a bit off in this episode?

      • Sarah
        August 27, 2012

        I thought a couple of the 1:1s with Montalbano and members of his team weren’t quite right. I haven’t read any other reviews Rhian so it is interesting other people have noticed it. But I did still enjoy the programme.

        • crimeficreader
          August 27, 2012

          Not seen it for this episode, Sarah, but have noted it on prior episodes. In some of the earlier episodes I found the acting a little ropey on times, but at this stage I don’t seem to notice. Can’t say I spotted anything with respect to the one-to-ones, but I think I was too busy reading the words, as per usual. (And some typos on Saturday night too…)

  2. Aidan
    August 26, 2012

    The scene in the antique shop left me baffled.

    • crimeficreader
      August 26, 2012

      You are not the only one there. Weird and silly.

  3. Superblack Cat
    August 26, 2012

    I really enjoyed this, it was almost like watching a film with no short cuts and a full and explained story. The acting and direction are excellent; the story was intriguing with just the right amount of shock and complications to satisfy crime fans. What is so special is the scenic background and the Italian culture….I often wonder why Italians always seem to be shouting at one another …now I understand they are just passionate about a subject. The character of Montalbano is superb.

    • crimeficreader
      August 26, 2012

      Thanks for commenting. I think we are both already looking forward to next week’s.

  4. Janet O'Kane
    August 27, 2012

    I watched this with my husband, who’s never seen Montalbano before but wanted to ‘know what all the fuss is about’ (the same excuse many friends have given for buying ’50 Shades …’). Apart from the concern he felt at my response to that flash of Salvo’s posterior, he thoroughly enjoyed it and has declared his intention to watch the rest of the series with me. I’m not entirely certain this pleases me, but I can feel a holiday in Italy becoming more of a possibility, so this is a price worth paying.

  5. Aidan
    August 27, 2012

    I think the show has a great knack for casting older people in supporting roles.

    Camilleri is no spring chicken and he seems to like including retirees in his stories.

    A previous episode had a wonderful old mafia boss whose hands shook.

    This episode had the old couple who hate Sicily (at the start) and the toothless farmer in the middle.

    I don’t know about the acting among the principal cast, but those minor characters are so well portrayed.

    • crimeficreader
      August 27, 2012

      Very true, Aidan,and thanks for pointing that out. For once we have a programme not afraid to involved the elderly. I think it was the last episode of the first series in which we had a series of muggings of the elderly? Also well done.

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2012 by in Television and tagged , , .
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