Rocco Schiavone on Walter Presents is a fun Italian series about an unorthodox yet brilliant detective in Rome who gets in trouble and is transferred, much to his dismay, to a small mountain town in the North. Schiavone (a perfectly cast Marco Giallini), who often curses a blue streak, judges his day by what level pain-in-the-ass he is facing. Dealing with magistrates is a level 8. A closed tobacco shop is 9th level. Level 10 is murder. Especially one involving snow. It’s an episodic series, with a new crime introduced every other episode. The first one is a doozy-a snow plow runs over a body, mangling it beyond recognition.

Did you know that the Rocco Schiavone character is based on a popular series of books by Antonio Manzini? You can find the first book, translated in English, here. Note that we are an Amazon affiliate, and if you use our link to buy these books, we will get a few bucks, at no cost to you!

Rocco Schiavone funny, dark

Rocco Schiavone, with its grumpy hero, is a genuinely funny show. Picture House but more…Italian. Schiavone refuses to accept mountain life, insisting on wearing his weather-inappropriate suede shoes in the snowy town. Every time he wrecks a pair, he buys a new one. He is often frustrated with his staff, many times rudely banishing them from his sight. Schiavone jettisons his bosses, sneaking off to solve crimes, and somehow always missing the press conference he was supposed to give. Every few episodes his shady Roman friends show up to crack a safe or relieve a truck of its sizable haul of marijuana. And he does tend to run through the ladies in town. But for all of his bluster, Schiavone nurses a private heart break, which I won’t spoil here.

 Rocco and his team

The people of the town aren’t sure what to think of Rocco, and neither are we, the viewers. One thing Schiavone understands very well is human nature, and that often leads him to the solution of the case. While the crime that he was punished for involved beating up a serial rapist, Schiavone is not simply a crank with a heart of gold. His character is more complex and self-serving than that. His colleagues run the gamut from competent to dim-witted, and with few exceptions, have an entertainingly combative relationship with Schiavone.  Two standouts are his squeamish mentee, Italo (Ernesto D’Argenio), and the cheerful forensic pathologist, Fumagalli (Massimo Reale).

Our review of Rocco Schiavone

We’ve seen the cranky protagonist before, but Rocco Schiavone is more fun, probably because it’s Italian. The mysteries are gruesome, and make good use of the mountain surroundings. Rocco solves the mysteries using his powers of observation and asking good questions with a poker face. My only beef is that some of the characters’ obtuseness can get absurd. Because the series is episodic, viewers can dip in and out as they please, but it’s always good to check back in with Rocco.

You can find Walter Presents selections on the PBS Masterpiece streaming service on Amazon Prime, Roku or Xfinity1.

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