Salamander, TV review: BBC4 Flemish-language crime thriller is dull and clichéd

 

Ellen E. Jones@MsEllenEJones
Sunday 09 February 2014 23:07
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Joachim Klaus leads the raid on the Jonkhere bank which targets members of the secret society “Salamander"
Joachim Klaus leads the raid on the Jonkhere bank which targets members of the secret society “Salamander"

If you’re one of those who believes that the only thing separating a critically lauded TV crime thriller from a critically panned one is the subtitles, BBC4 has a surprise. Its new series, Flemish-language Salamander (Sat) was as dull and clichéd as anything ITV2 primetime has to offer.

In Brussels, a group of thieves break into a bank vault to steal the secrets of society’s most powerful. This plot is close to that of Sherlock’s series three finale, so we’ve been served with a ready-made point of damning comparison. Even without it, this scene would feel oddly slow-paced for a heist. Viewers are smart enough to work out what’s going on from a few well-chosen shots; we don’t need to see the whole thing unfold in real-time, especially not if it’s soundtracked by the music from an Eighties arcade game.

Things improved a little when Inspector Paul Geradi (Filip Peeters) got on the case. As well as the usual qualities of a maverick cop – is there any other kind? – Geradi combined a mop of snowy curls with a tie-less shirt and blue jeans.

He looked like the love-child of Jeremy Clarkson and Father Christmas – only, Clarkson would likely have disowned his putative son, on the basis of that 30mph car chase.

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