TV Series Review: Salamander

Salamanderby Brad Nelson   8/24/14
There are oodles of cop or detective series on Netflix available for streaming. I try a new one out every now and then and I’m consistently bored by the lack of engaging stories. One cop show just blurs into another.

Salamander is a Belgian cop show featuring Filip Peeters as Police Inspector Paul Gerardi. Shades of Hercule Poirot, although Gerardi plays a no-nonsense, low-key cop with very little flamboyance. What he has in spades though is a sense of justice and a sense of intergrity.

This show is not a 1000 cc’s of adrenaline action. But what I like about it is that it is not a strung-together cliche of kinetic hyperbole. That is, it’s not stupid. It won’t insult your intelligence.

The first season consists of 12 episodes. Presumable there will be further seasons, but I have no information on that. The first season centers around a Belgian bank which is the victim of an unusual robbery. Sixty-six (I think its sixty-six) specially-marked safety deposits boxes are cracked. And the object is not diamonds but personal information. There is obviously some kind of large and organized blackmail operation a-brewin’.

Those who have had their safety deposit boxes broken into are all a part of a secret organization known as “Salamader.” Someone has it out for them, but we don’t know who or why. And we don’t initially know if Salamander is a harmless group of like-minded businessmen or something more sinister.

Paul Gerardi becomes attached to investigating this case and the complications then ensue. He is helped from time to time by an ex-cop friend who has turned monk. And given the giant conspiracy that Gerardi soon finds himself irretrievably involved in, you’re not even sure if the monk can be trusted.

The story unfolds somewhat deliberately. It takes a while for the general plot pieces to fall into place and to get hooked, but eventually you will. The strength of the series is the superb performance by Peeters as Inspector Gerardi. He portrays the Inspector on a decidedly human scale. This is quite refreshing given the over-the-top buffoonish exaggerations typical of these types of series. And he’s a likable guy.

There are a few twists and turns, but it’t not an obnoxious force-feeding of these twists. Although I would have preferred perhaps a bit more gunplay, there’s a quiet realism about this show. The characters are very much fleshed out (good guys and bad) and well-acted in all cases. No, this isn’t a 1000 watts of adrenaline action, but what you might miss in action is made up for by a quiet, well-acted intelligence with engaging characters.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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One Response to TV Series Review: Salamander

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    “Chief Disorganizer”? I think you should have a future in writing (if only short pieces) somewhere. (My own style was described as “journalistic” in high school, and that mostly remains true, for good or bad or both.)

    The Summer reading issue of The Weekly Standard discusses another European series that sounds like it might be interesting. It’s written by a Sicilian writer named Andrea Camilleri and features a Sicilian police detective, Inspector Montalbano. Reviewer Jon L. Breen praises the translations and recommend the books (and I intend to start looking them up the next time I’m in a bookstore — perhaps this coming Friday, when we’ll probably visit Half-Price Books). There’s also a TV series, which may also be available on Netflix or some such.

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