TV Dungeon: Romanzo Criminale

(2008 – 2010, Italy)

2 Seasons (22 Episodes)

Directed by:
Stefano Sollima

Francesco Montanari, Vinicio Marchioni, Alessandro Roja, Daniela Virgilio

The story of the Magliana gang, who controlled organised crime in Rome between 1977 and 1992. We witness the establishment of the group by three ruthless criminals; Il Libanese, Il Dandi and Il Freddo (the cold one). Each one of the friends has a very different personality, but they share the same ambition; to take over Rome. No crime is too big for Banda Della Magliana: drugs, kidnapping, murder, prostitution, they are literally involved in all criminal activity in the city.

The series is based on true events and people. The Magliana’s were the first organised gang in Rome. After a successful kidnapping, the leader type; Il Libanese, initiates that he and his associates form a gang. The others agree, but Il Freddo insists that they are all equals and have no leader. This will turn out to be a tough ideal to hang on to later on.

Off course they have opponents to deal with; a competitive gangster called Terrible is their first major obstacle. Then there is a communist cop who is keen on tracking them down. Finally, the Mafia – who traditionally had no foot in Rome – stick their beak in. Once the gang reaches the top, the only direction they can go is down. This is what eventually happens. Like all criminal empires, it ends.

Perhaps the best thing about this series is the cast. Each one of the actors is extremely believable in his/her role. For a show about gangsters, there are also quite a few strong female characters. Another strong point is the production design; the recreation of the seventies and eighties is convincingly done, enhanced by a groovy soundtrack and stylish camera work and editing.

The biggest downside is the length of the series. It is told in two parts of about 10 hours each. This is too long. Especially in the first part, there is too little going to keep the tension on an adequate level. Surely it is realistic, but sometimes just boring. Also humor is missing; it could have taken a few pages out of The Sopranos’ book. Still, after La Piovra, this is the best series about organised crime to come out of Italy.

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