Final Montalbano episode premieres July 6, 2021!

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The final Detective Montalbano episode 37 will premiere in the U.S. and Canada on July 6, 2021 on all MHz Choice platforms. 


We have to get our heads around the fact that this is the last Detective Montalbano. I’m as verklempt as anyone. For me, there’s no such thing as too many Sicilian side characters, too many shots of Sicily’s seaside or its blue water or its land, too many moments punctuated by Franco Piersanti’s magnificent score. For those of us in mourning, however, it’s good to remember the miracle of the last three episodes getting filmed at all, given that author Andrea Camilleri, director Alberto Sironi and the production designer Luciano Ricceri were very ill or had just died. They were the pillars of Detective Montalbano.

Andrea Camilleri

The story behind the series itself is just as remarkable as any of the episodes. It starts with Andrea Camilleri, an accomplished television writer and director from Porto Empedocle, a little seaside town in Sicily. He’s born in 1925 and experiences the small-town wonders of village life and sees the social and political tumult of the times. Emphasis on the word ‘sees’ because Andrea is a soul who doesn’t miss much. I’d be afraid to give the man a cup of coffee because I’d end up in one of his stories. Politics, social structures, human foibles, beauty, irony… he sees it all. Fast forward a few decades and he’s rocking along with a good career in Rome, directing theater and television, writing and teaching. He puts his hand to fiction on the side – his first books were written when he was in his 50s – but they get tepid reviews. Then in his late 60s (!) he begins writing about a maverick detective named Salvo Montalbano and his work finds a home with Sellerio, a boutique publishing house in Palermo. The stories are a valentine to the Sicily of Camilleri’s youth and they’re not 100% in Italian – more of a mish-mash of Italian and Sicilian. They’re rich, complex, funny, sad – and the public loves them. They’re blockbusters. Pretty soon publisher Elvira Sellerio tips off Palomar founder and producer, Carlo Degli Esposti about Camilleri’s Montalbano and Carlo is sold. Carlo approaches RAI…

Alberto Sironi

RAI then taps the 56-year old director Alberto Sironi for the task, an experienced theater director and television writer/director with a sports documentary under his belt along with other series he’s directed for RAI (one about a detective in Milan). Alberto’s thrilled about the job but insists on filming in Sicily and hiring Sicilian actors for the supporting cast. No-brainer, right? At the time it made the suits nervous – really nervous – especially the part about casting Sicilians. Their beef with the idea was that people wouldn’t be able to understand the actors’ accents. Alberto fights for his vision and also swims against the tide by casting leads 20 years younger than their counterparts in the books. (good call!) Another thing about Alberto – he happens to be a very sweet man with an amazing photographer’s eye and a talent for casting. So he’s fantastic at gathering superb actors and will be just the leader the group needs to keep egos in check and help them hang together for the next 22 years.

Luciano Ricceri

Then there’s the third pillar, Luciano Ricceri. He’s an A-list production designer from award-winning films by Fellini and Scola. He knows Sicily like the back of his hand, having scouted there for many projects. He also knows an important fact – that a certain town in Sicily is relatively deserted and has a section of beautifully preserved 18th century Baroque architecture. It’s Ragusa Ibla, devastated by an earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt entirely soon after – which gave it a uniquely uniform, ancient look. Alberto referred to Luciano as the gift RAI gave him, which he never took for granted. It was Luciano’s eye that created the fictional town of Vigata with its surreal, dreamlike emptiness, streets without cars, homes dotting the hillside at night like lanterns, the winding alleys, the magnificent doorways. Luciano brought the town and the countryside into the foreground of the Detective Montalbano. In every episode, the beauty of the place spoke for itself and you fell in love with another facet of Sicily. Personally, I think you can watch any Montalbano episode with the sound off, just savoring the look of everything. That’s the superb aesthetic of Luciano Ricceri.

The first two stories (“The Snack Thief” and “The Voice of the Violin”) start filming in 1998, and when the series premieres in 1999 it takes off like a rocket. Clearly, the team pulled it off – they captured lightning in a bottle. So begins the journey that will continue for the next 22 years. Here are clips from these first two episodes:



But about this being the last episode – it couldn’t go on forever, right? “The Catalanotti Method” is the capstone setting off the most ambitious television series ever – 37 full-length movies shot beautifully on location with an outstanding crew and actors. That alone is worth a standing ovation. Produced and acted by the same team across two decades – unheard of in the world of television production. Hundreds of people spent the best part of their lives putting Detective Montalbano together. Now is the time to enjoy this body of work at leisure.

People will have very different reactions to the newest episode, too – because in typical Camilleri fashion, things take a funny bounce. That’s all I’ll say, except to add that these characters are like family members, so when they go in unexpected directions, you have to stay with them.

The new episode, “The Catalanotti Method” begins with Mimi in a jam – having discovered a dead body during one of his nights with a new girlfriend. He and Montalbano need some kind of pretext for getting to the apartment where the body is.



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