Viewers of this episode (first broadcast by the state-owned station, RAI, in Italy last March), won’t be disappointed. The only let-down, perhaps, is that no more shows are promised to come.
The Catalanotti Method
“The Catalanotti Method” (Il Metodo Catalanotti) is based on the 26th of the 28 books of the detective series by Italian director/author/storyteller Andrea Camilleri. The Sicilian author’s masterful mysteries have captured the hearts of fans around the world. (In English, the book and episode title is translated as “The Sicilian Method.”)
In this two-hour episode, detective Salvo Montalbano (brought to life by charismatic heartthrob Luca Zingaretti) is awoken by a phone call from his womanizing deputy, Domenico ‘Mimi’ Augello (Cesare Adolfo Bocci). Mimi tells his boss that he discovered a dead body by chance during the course of one of his sexual indiscretions and he’s worried that he may be wrongly accused of the crime.
Mimi implores Montalbano to find the murderer and get him out of this jam. Joining them in the investigation is Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta), Montalbano’s methodical right-hand man. (Quite young at the inception of the series, it’s hard to believe that the actor is now 50 years old—although most of the cast shows few signs of aging.)
We learn that the murder victim was Carmelo Catalanotti, a strange man who divided his time between loan-sharking and overseeing Trinacriate, a cult-like theater group of aspiring thespians who so revere their leader that they are willing to do anything he says. The director’s idiosyncratic and egocentric approach to “method acting” borders on the bizarre.
During the course of the investigation, not only are viewers introduced to Trinacriate’s group of quirky amateur actors but to the beautiful Antonia Nicoletti (played by Greta Scarano), a new head of forensics temporarily assigned to work in the local police station.
A passionate relationship quickly develops between the aging detective and his much younger colleague that stands to threaten the ten-year relationship he’s had with his girlfriend, Livia Burlando (most recently portrayed by Sonia Bergamasco).
Read my article on Subtitled Foreign Films: 5 Reasons Why I Watch Them
Return to Vigata
Even as the opening credits appear on screen, avid Montalbano fans will delight in returning to the fictional and very scenic Vigata, a Baroque hill town in Sicily, while they listen to the evocative musical score by Franco Piersanti—melodies that can be hard to get out of your head.
Yes, once again you’ll see Montalbano swimming in the blue waters outside his coastal villa and drive through the charming towns nearby. The final episode was actually filmed in Agrigento, where Camilleri was born, and Ragusa, both in southern Sicily.
Like the other episodes, “The Catalanotti Method” is the length of a feature film. This offers ample time for twists and turns in the plot as you try to discover the rather improbable circumstances of this engaging story. It continues to offer viewers an absolutely addictive mix of romance, humor, and intrigue in just the right proportions.
The seasoned cast includes character actors from regional theaters whose use of Sicilian dialect and demeanor transports you to the island beside the toe of Italy’s boot. (All the episodes are subtitled in English.)
And whether it’s at Enzo’s, Montalbano’s favorite seaside restaurant, or seeing the dishes at home prepared by his housekeeper, Adelina, the series always conveys the detective’s appreciation of good Sicilian food that can make your mouth water just watching.
Also on MoreTimeToTravel: Read my Review of Riccardino, The Last Book in the Detective Montalbano Series
The final episode: Truly the end of an era?
Detective Montalbano first aired in Italy in 1999. For more than twenty years, new episodes were released to eager audiences every two years. It also created a spike in tourism in Sicily, dubbed the “Montalbano Effect,” that locals worry may now be in jeopardy.
“Fans have been heading to the places of Montalbano, bringing wealth to the community,” writes Gaia Zoi on an Italian website. “When the production company announced the final show, the locals weren’t happy.”
Why would such success come to an end? Camilleri wrote the Montalbano series when he was in his 70s and passed away in July 2019 at the age of 93. The talented director of the series, Alberto Sironi, died less than a month later. (This last episode was directed by Zingaretti.) In 2017, Marcello Perrachio, who played a lead role as the forensic pathologist in thirty episodes, passed away.
In part, because of these successive losses, some have speculated that additional Montalbano episodes after this one aren’t likely to make it from book to screen. Camilleri wrote one last book in the detective series, the 28th and final novel, Riccardino. Released in Italy in July 2020, it became available in the U.S. in September 2021.
“At eighty, I foresaw Montalbano’s departure from the scene,” wrote Camilleri. “I got the idea and I didn’t let it slip away. So I found myself writing this novel which is the final chapter; the last book in the series. And I sent it to my publisher saying to keep it in a drawer and to publish it only when I am gone.”
Assuredly, rabid Montalbano fans will continue to enjoy both the series reruns and the beautifully written books upon which these stories are based for years to come. And if they forgo sleep, they can now watch all the RAI episodes back-to-back on MHz Choice.
If you are looking for “lighter fare,” I highly recommend the irreverent comedy series, Vita da Carlo, on Amazon Prime.
A glimmer of hope! According to a recent post on LaNostraTV.it, agent Catarella (Angelo Russo) is ready to resume the Montalbano series. Moreover, he’s hoping that Luca Zingaretti will reconsider his decision and return as Detective Montalbano.
It also noted that Maria Pia Ammirati of RAI Fiction said that, despite the death of author Camilleri and director Sironi, “the fiction is too much loved by the public to end up in oblivion.” We’ll stay tuned.
Update 1/22: A recent article in Italian Vanity Fair speculates that two episodes of the popular Montalbano mysteries that have still not aired on TV, Riccardino (released posthumously in 2020) and The Cook of the Halcyon (released in 2019) might still make it to the screen. (This article also cites comments made by Maria Pia Ammirati of RAI Fiction).
A newsletter from MHz Choice confirmed that episode 37 of Detective Montalbano will indeed be the last one. Regrettably, no more new episodes are planned.
As Luca Zingaretti embarks on a new series called The King, there is still some online chatter that the “most successful TV series in the history of Italian television, Inspector Montalbano, may be reborn.
Certainly, fans are still hoping that Rai will develop the two missing episodes of the fiction inspired by the novels of Andrea Camilleri.
Luca Zingaretti in “Detective Montalbano: The Catalanotti Method” (credit: MHz Choice)
Watch the trailer for the final episode on YouTube:
How to Watch the final episode of Montalbano
Is the final episode of Montalbano available on DVD?
The DVD of Episode 37 of Montalbano is available on Amazon.
Other Binge-Worthy TV Series That Transport Viewers to Italy
- My House Is Full of Mirrors (with Sophia Loren)
- The Bastards of Pizzofalcone
- Savoring the Flavors of the Aosta Valley on Le Petit Tour
- The Children of Selvino
- The War Is Over
- A Virtual Trip to Matera with Imma Tataranni
- Watching Detective Montalbano: A Pandemic Escape for Italophiles
- TV Biopic Brings Luisa Spagnoli Story To Life
- Inspector Vivaldi Series Transports Viewers To Trieste
- If you love this series, you’ll want to read this article in Crime Reads about the series and its creator, Andrea Camilleri.
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