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Gomorrah: The Series Season 1
Based on Roberto Saviano's best-selling book (which also inspired the later film of the same name), Gomorrah premiered in its native Italy in 2014, with the fifth and final season having seemingly finished up in its homeland earlier this year in 2021.
Set in Naples, the series revolves around the Savastano crime family, headed by a man named Pietro Savastano (Fortunato Cerlino). Pietro runs a very tight ship, and when it comes to business dealings, is rarely less than ruthless. When a man named Ciro Di Marzio (Marco D'Amore) wants to join up, with aspirations of climbing the ranks, he's given the job of the home of Salvatore Conte's mother, he being a drug dealer in the area that Peitro would rather get out of town permanently. Ciro obliges and pulls off the job without any issues, proving his loyalty to Pietro and making his way into the inner circle. It isn't long before Pietro has trusted Ciro with tracking care of his son, Gennaro (Salvatore Esposito), who will one day take over the family business from his father.
When Pietro gets nabbed by the cops, his wife, Immacolata (Maria Pia Calzone), moves in and takes control, quite sure that neither Pietro nor Ciro, who she has a visible disdain for will be able to handle things yet. She gets Ciro out of the way by sending him to Spain as an ambassador of sorts, expecting him to make amends to Conte and brings their families together. Gennaro, on the other hand, is send to Honduras to make connections with their drug suppliers. Ciro succeeds in his mission but Immacolata still doesn't want him on the inside track, and when Gennaro returns to Naples, he winds up siding with his mother.
As the story progresses, Gennaro starts making moves of his own and getting rid of certain members, replacing them with his own choices. The Savastano then starts to split, with Gennaro commanding the loyalty of those he chose to employ, with the older, more established members, Ciro included, abiding by Pietro's wishes. Things get extremely messy for all involved from this point on, but let it suffice to say that alliances are formed and shattered and that no one is really safe from their opponents in what turns out to be a fascinating power struggle.
After the initial setup in the first few episodes of this series, the writers take things into some very interesting directions. You might figure you know where it's all going but there are a lot of unexpected twists and turns that really play a big role in the effectiveness of the show's drama and tension. The characters are believable and well-written, and it's fascinating to watch them develop and evolve over the course of the twelve episodes that make up this first season of Gomorrah. Production values are also very high. This show obviously had a good budget behind it, as the cinematography and score are all impressive and wholly appropriate to the stories being told throughout the narrative. Costumes look good, as do the sets and locations employed here, and most of the special effects work employed in the series is also pretty strong.
Gomorrah also benefits immensely from a very talented cast. Fortunato Cerlino is fantastic as the ruthless old school mobster type, he's intimidating and intense and he plays his part extremely well. He has an interesting chemistry with Marco D'Amore, the younger actor playing his fledgling gangster with style and convincing us every step of the way. Salvatore Esposito is very interesting watch here, simply because his character changes so much during this arc that we really don't know quite how to figure him out but it's a testament to his abilities in front of the camera that he makes this work as well as he does. Maria Pia Calzone is also excellent here, especially one Pietro goes to prison and she jumps in to fill the void that he leaves in his absence.
The first season of Gomorrah to Region A Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in a three-disc set with all twelve episodes framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This was shot digitally so it doesn't have any print damage or grain related issues to discuss. Detail is very strong, the series' fairly bleak color scheme is reproduced accurately and we get good black levels. There might be a bit of crush in a couple spots but it's minor, no other problems were noted during playback.
The Italian language DTS-HD 5.1 mix sounds really strong. Levels are balanced quite nicely there's good depth and range to the track. The score and effects sound quite strong and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and optional dubbed English audio is also provided.
Extra features are slim, two a few trailers, menus and chapter selection options, though this does come packaged with a slipcover.
Gomorrah's first season makes for some pretty tense viewing! It's a very well made and involving crime series with some great acting and really strong storytelling on display throughout. Kino's Blu-ray set is disappointingly light on extras but the presentation is very strong and the content so good that this release is easy to recommend.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.