The first two seasons of this binge-worthy crime fiction series, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone, are now streaming.
If you fell in love with the culture and landscapes of Sicily after watching Inspector Montalbano (or reading the marvelous books by its creator, Andrea Camillieri), you’ll enjoy exploring Naples with the quirky investigative team working out of the Pizzofalcone Police Station.
What is The Bastards of Pizzofalcone about?
Massimiliano Gallo as Luigi Palma (credit: MHz Choice)The storyline revolves around a new, somewhat dysfunctional, law enforcement team, under the direction of Commissario Luigi Palma (played by Massimiliano Gallo). Palma has been charged with overseeing the eight-person team, hoping to restore professionalism to a sleepy police station in Naples. The station is facing the imminent threat of closure after the former investigative team was found guilty of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking.
Originally aired on Italian state-owned TV station RAI in 2017, there are currently two seasons of the series available for streaming, with six episodes each. Like most RAI crime series, each episode is about 100 minutes long, about the length of a typical feature film. They are filmed in Italian and subtitled in English, perfect for Italophiles who want to improve their language proficiency.
The first part of the series was directed by Carlo Carlei (Romeo and Juliet and Fluke), who according to Variety, has unique Hollywood credentials for an Italian director and is highly regarded for his “polished visual style.”
When the series first aired in Italy, it got rave reviews and scored high ratings. Each episode of this contemporary crime thriller revolves around a “tough” case with multiple suspects that keeps viewers engaged and guessing to the end. The ensemble cast becomes a “work family” of sorts, involved with each other’s lives but also having lives outside of the job.
Who are the these “Bastards?”
The misfits sent to the Pizzofalcone police station include the lead character of the series, Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono, who arrived there from Agrigento where he was falsely accused of being an informer to the Mafia.
The role of Lojacono is played by heartthrob Alessandro Gassmann, who notably is the son of Italian actor Vittorio Gassman and French actress Juliette Mayniel. Now 56 years old, Gassman was once a spokesperson for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium perfume and posed nude for the Italian magazine Max.
Lieutenant Francesco Francisco Romano (whose imposing bearing resembles that of Brad Garrett, the brother on Everyone Loves Raymond, played by Gennaro Silvestro) is quick to anger both at work and at home. His volatile temper ebbs and flows but is always ready to erupt. He is extremely jealous and has a fractious relationship with his wife, Georgia, who dares to want to work outside their home.
The youngest member of the team, Alessandra Di Nardo (Alex, played by Simona Tabasco), is a gun-loving officer, who lives with her parents, but has a secret love life they seem to know nothing about.
Officer Marco Aragona (played by Antonio Felleto), has a passion for driving fast and pursuing women. His colleagues never know what this diamond in the rough is going to blurt out next. He’s been placed in his position through the influence of his father and often is a right-hand person to Lojacono and other officers.
Deputy Commissioner Giorgio Pisanelli (played by Gianfelice Imparato, who appeared as a Commissioner in The Young Montalbano) is an aging detective who shows possible signs of dementia but is unwilling to retire. After hours, he is obsessed with his dead wife, and schemes to prevent the suicides of elderly people in the neighborhood.
A holdover from the previous regime, Ottavia Calabrese (played by Tosca D’Aquino) is the computer whiz of the group, who works primarily from her desktop computer, delving into the evidential background of all the suspects. At home, she struggles with a demanding husband and developmentally disabled son who constantly craves her attention.
Laura Piras, an alluringly beautiful prosecutor (played by Angelina Jolie look-alike Carolina Crescentini) works hand-in-hand with the team of investigators. IMDB calls her “undoubtedly one of the most talented young actresses that Italy has to offer at the moment.” Afraid to get involved with Lojacono for personal and professional reasons, she succumbs to his charms.
As the series unfolds, the rich backstories and personalities of the characters slowly unravel giving viewers insight into their behaviors from past episodes.
Where is the story set?
Pizzofalcone is a hilly area overlooking the Bay of Naples on the western coast of southern Italy in the region of Campania. In the 7th century BC, Pizzofalcone was Naples.
Part of the San Ferdinando district in the historic city center, the neighborhood is the site of opulent palazzi, bustling piazzas, and historic churches as well as impoverished slums. The historic center of Naples was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.
With a heavy influx of immigrants, the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, and traditional and modern, are often showcased in the stories. Viewers catch glimpses of the city architecture, art, interior decor and design.
How is The Bastards of Pizzofalcone similar and different to the Inspector Montalbano series?
- Both series were first shown on RAI in Italy and were adapted from popular mystery books. The Bastards of Pizzofalcone is based on novels by author Maurizio de Giovanni. Giovanni’s Commissario Ricciardi books (another crime series) are bestsellers across Europe, with sales approaching 1 million copies. The Montalbano books, much greater in number, were published over a period of more than 20 years. Thus, the Pizzofalcone stories are fewer and more contemporary.
- The themes of both TV series emphasize government corruption, the influence of politics in policing, the infiltration of the Mafia, the impact of immigration, and the everyday lives of law enforcement officers.
- Both lead detectives have a strong sense of personal ethics and complicated personal lives. They are part of close-knit teams surrounded by an abundance of beautiful women,
- Like travelogues, both series are set in port cities in southern Italy with beautiful photography (although Naples is far grittier than the fictional Vigata). They offer a glimpse into regional dialects, cultures and traditions, including a strong emphasis on regional foods. In the case of Pizzofalcone, expect to see many regional seafood dishes, Neapolitan pizza, cucina povera like pasta with potatoes or pasta with beans, and sfogliatelle. People are always drinking coffee and every home depicted in both series has a Moka pot.
How to watch The Bastards of Pizzofalcone
Two seasons are currently available; a third season has been filmed but no premiere date has been announced yet.
The victims in the six Season 1 episodes range from wealthy to poor, including a famous notary’s wife, a chauffeur, a cleaning lady, two siblings, an immigrant, and a wealthy businessman’s grandson. Season 1 is now streaming on both Amazon Prime and MHHz Choice. View the Season 1 trailer
Season 2 has a new director, Alessandro D’Alatri (Il Commissario Ricciardi). Check out the schedule for the six episodes in Season 2, available on MHz Choice.
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