TV Catch Up //Salamander, Series 1 – Episodes 1 + 2 (BBC 4)

There were no brooding shots of Scandinavian nightscapes or iconic female detectives to be seen, but BBC 4’s latest Saturday night foreign import Salamander was still an exciting prospect…


SPOILERS AHEAD

After countless weeks of getting used to Danish and Swedish we have a new language to get to grips with. Flemish is the new language we’ll be seeking out strange words from over the next few weeks as Salamander travels its course.

 If you were expecting something along the lines of The Bridge then you would have been disappointed but if an open mind is something you are lucky enough to be blessed with then there was much to enjoy in this opening double bill of the show.

The titular Salamander is not yet alluded to until the later stages of episode two but the deceptively formulaic opening to the show is something to enjoy that doesn’t involve living room décor porn, skylines of doom or green cars. In fact, it makes a nice change to focus on story rather than domestic fantasy during key scenes here and that is only a good thing I say!

“We have 100 minutes from now…”

Opening with an audacious bank vault break in that is more targeted than it looks on first glance  you get the impression that security is rather lax in Belgium based private banks.  The rich pickings of exactly 66 ‘sensitive safes’ are bagged and the gang are away in their workmen’s vans! It all seems too easy! Perhaps because it was…

The Bank Management decide not to alert police of the robbery but inevitably word gets their way and the person to pick up on it to disastrous consequences for himself and his wife and daughter is our almost too normal hero Paul Geradi. BBC 4 is often teasing us with off kilter characters and drama but for Salamander it’s a thoroughly normal kettle of fish.

There are bright skies, nice Belgium street scenes not brimming with the potential for evil and even a traditional police boss to be rebelled against by Geradi. But after the fairly routine set up things get interesting quickly. With an informant passing info of the bank robbery to him, Geradi goes on the hunt for which bank it could be. Do police really send e-mails to check in with people?  It does seem strange to send an e-mail to a bank manager and ask if he’s been robbed in very vague terms but let’s roll with it and see what happens…

Inevitably, the branch is discovered but not before Geradi is suspended ‘for his own protection’ by his now kinder looking boss. The Police Commissioner wants all trace of the incident vanished and relieving Geradi of gun and badge is just part of that plan it seems. But like all good cops on television he’s not going to ‘take a holiday by the sea’ as is suggested he’s going to investigate some more and go on the run.

That is what happens and predictable or not you can’t help but be entertained. By the end of the second episode we have been introduced to the Salamander key, lodged inside a document stolen from the vaults and now held by Geradi. That’s where we’re left until next week and despite not being an instant classic Salamander is one worth keeping track of…

Join us next week for the next episodes here on #srcz!


Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan.