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Rocco Schiavone-Ice Cold Murders-Season 1
Directed by none other than Michel Soavi, the man who gave us The Church and Cemetery Man and Luca Brignone, and based on the series of novels by Antonio Manzini, the first season of Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders introduces us to the titular detective played by Marco Giallini. When the first season begins, Schiavone is working in Rome as a Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone but soon finds himself not only demoted, but shipped off to Aosta, a small town in the mountains and about as far away from Rome, culturally speaking, as you can get. It's a quaint little place with lots of skiing, and pretty much the complete opposite of what Schiavone is used to.
Initially, Schiavone isn't happy with his new digs but has only his own past to blame for it. He's a surly, crotchety man in his early fifties who chain smokes, weed and tobacco, and drinks quite a bit. He's a womanizer and a bit of a misanthrope but, for all intents and purposes, he is a good detective, even if sometimes the results he gets have more to do with good luck than with actual sleuthing. He's also not afraid to bend the rules a bit as he see fits and to take justice into his own hands of he feels that it's warranted.
As Rocco gets used to his new base of operations, he gets to know some of the local police officers as he starts to work with them and together they wind up solving a series of six different crimes (most of the stories are told over two episodes in this twelve episode run, though the stories do build off of one another towards a pretty strong finale), typically a murder. Not all of them are particularly good at their job, in fact, a few of them are downright bad. Schiavone is also, fairly literally, haunted by his wife (Isabella Ragonese) who he lost some time ago. He tries to fill the void with a torrent of affairs but it's clear that they aren't filling the hole she left.
Regular supporting players in the early episodes include a younger cop named Italo Pierron (Ernesto D'Argenio) who Schiavone typically finds himself having to work alongside, the whip-smart Caterina Rispoli (Claudia Vismara) and a pair of bumbling cops named Michele Deruta (Massimiliano Caprara) and Domenico D'Intino (Roberto D'Alessandro) that Schiavone isn't especially fond of (though to be fair, he isn't especially fond of most people). He does, however, warm to a dog he takes in when its owner passes away. Despite his salty, tough guy exterior, he has a heart underneath it all, even if it's clear that he doesn't want anyone to see it.
There's good and bad to discuss with the series. We'll start with the bad. First off, the series never feels particularly original. We've seen plenty of movies and TV shows about cops with a past who bend the rules to get results, and this show is very much in the vein of a lot of what came before it. There's also the issue of Rocco's skills with the ladies. We really have to try hard to suspend our disbelief on a regular basis when this out of shape, chain-smoking and disheveled crank of a man hopes into bed with a woman half his age who looks like she just walked out of a modelling shoot. The series doesn't do a very good job of explaining why Rocco is the ‘chick magnet' that he is, we're just asked to accept it and sometimes it can be a bit hard to get past that.
The good? Well, Antonio Manzini plays the part well. He looks right for the role, handles the material very well and crafts an interesting lead character. The supporting cast players are decent as well, most of them a lot more likeable than the Rocco himself. The production values are pretty solid, with the locations really doing a nice job of setting this one apart from a lot of police procedurals that usually take place in bigger cities. At times this has a bit of a Fargo vibe thanks to the snowy locales (many of which are actually quite beautiful) and cast of quirky, small town characters.
More originality in the writing department would have gone a long way, as more often than not you won't have a whole lot of trouble figuring out ‘whodunnit' before the characters in the show do, but overall, the first season of Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders is at least worth checking out for fans of the genre. Here's hoping that the team behind the series can improve on some of the series' flaws in upcoming seasons, as there's potential for this to go from ‘good' to ‘great' if they do.
The first season of Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders to Region A Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in a three-disc set with all twelve episodes framed at 1.78.1 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.
Extra features are slim? We get menus and chapter selection options.
Rocco Schiavone: Ice Cold Murders isn't perfect, but it's good enough to recommend to those who enjoy police procedurals and detective shows. The production values are solid as is the acting and while Kino's Blu-ray release is pretty much barebones, the presentation is quite good.
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.