16th Mar2014

‘Salamander: The Complete Season One’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


Nordic Noir is popular in the United Kingdom right now and we tend to get hooked whenever we are given a new morsel to chew on.  One thing we’d be stupid to not realise though is that Europe has much more to offer than just that certain brand of Noir.  Salamander: The Complete Season One is an example of some television from Belgium hoping to get our attention, and with a tale of conspiracy and murder makes for a very watchable show.

When a bank is broken into but only 66 safe deposit boxes are opened, there is a sudden rush by the manager to keep the robbery a secret.  When an informant informs Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters) about it, the investigator refuses to let the subject drop.  When the informant and an alarms expert dies suspiciously though Gerardi suddenly finds his life turned upside down and his family in danger as his superiors and a secret group move to stop his quest for the truth.

The character of Paul Gerardi is played well by Filip Peeters but he can be a very annoying man.  His moral fight is selfish and at times stupidly blind as his life falls to pieces around him.  Obsession can be a good thing in an investigation, but would you not at least try to make your family safe first when you realise that they could be in danger? Gerardi is a man who continually puts those around him in life threatening situations in his mission to do the right thing, which makes him a very flawed character at times.

The organisation known as Salamander is actually an interesting concept, especially with its roots going back to the Second World War.  The idea that a group such as this could worm its way not only into powerful business positions but also high positions in government is the stuff of the average conspiracy tale, but it is handled well in Salamander.  The effect of the contents of the safe deposit boxes is also a nice touch, as it threatens to destabilise the entire country.  This is also something that tends to weaken the story as a whole though too.

The weakness in the plot is the obsession with Salamander in bringing down Gerardi while not working hard enough to work out just who stole all the information from the bank and is using it to bring down the organisation.  You would think that they would focus on protecting themselves against the greater threat (in my opinion) than being obsessed with one man who they have already discredited by getting him suspended over his actions.  This one element that does tend to raise questions for the audience but maybe that is the point? That this organisation has become too narrow-minded and weak? Somehow I doubt that is the aim.

The strength of Salamander: The Complete Season One is that there is quite a cobweb of storylines entwined together and until we know the actual full story we are left trying to work out just what the truth is.  The ambiguous nature of the theft itself confuses just who is he bad guy in the story, and while there is a fight to keep the country from falling apart the audience can’t help but wonder if the group should be brought down.  This is of course answered by the final episode but it does keep you guessing.

With Salamander: The Complete Season One I will warn you not to try binge watching this one, it is quite a slow burner that is more enjoyed by taking it in small chunks.  Often feeling like it’s been stretched out a little too much I did feel that it could have been shorter, but by the end you do feel that all of the plot has been brought together and answered in a sufficient manner.

Salamander: The Complete Season One is available on DVD from March 17th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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