Pick of the week
Romanzo Criminale Monday, 11pm, SBS Who better to write a television drama about Italy’s notorious criminals than a judge who dealt with them regularly? Giancarlo De Cataldo is a leading criminal judge in Rome and one of the country’s most popular crime writers. His knowledge of the grubby world of murder, drugs and standover men has been the basis of several bestselling novels. This series follows three friends — Libanese (Francesco Montanari), Freddo (Vinicio Marchioni) and Dandi (Alessandro Roja) — who are determined to become the crime emperors of Rome. It’s set in the 1970s and 80s when the real-life Banda della Magliana gang unleashed drug-fuelled chaos on Rome in what became known as Anni di Piombo (Years of Lead). Here, season two picks up the story in the early 80s. Libanese is the sneering, streetsmart leader; Freddo is the cunning strategist and Dandi lives up to his name — he’s out for a good time: parties, fast cars and hot chicks. They don’t always work as a team and, when they’re not fighting each other, they’re dealing with the Camorra and Sicilian Mafia who own the heroin supply, the police led by Commissioner Scialoja (Marco Bocci) and the Italian secret services. Besides the characters and the tension, what makes this thriller so good is the attention to period detail. The fashions and haircuts paint a wonderful portrait of the times.