At some point last month, I felt like watching a comedy series – that doesn’t happen often, since I’m not exactly a big fan of most recent comedies, be it series or feature films. I had a recommendation from my mum – an Italian series that was just one season long, and each episode was around the 30 minute mark. Easy to get into, and certainly not a huge time investment. I had no idea that the two main characters had been the stars of quite a lot of Italian comedies over the last two decades – the first one is called Nati Stanchi, all the way from 2002. Most likely, Netflix saw existing potential there, and went ahead with producing a series – ‘Incastrati (Framed – A Sicilian Murder Mystery)‘.
Two TV technicians, Salvo and Valentino, are doing their daily rounds, and they show up at one of the apartments where they have a repair scheduled. They are surprised to find the apartment door ajar, and nobody is there to greet them. However, they are on a schedule, so they assume the owner had left the door open for them, and they enter and try to identify the issue with the TV. Which, surprisingly, is working just fine. In the bathroom, they stumble upon a dead body, and a gun next to it – it seems that somebody had just killed the owner of the apartment. After a heated debate on what to do next, the two technicians decide to leave, but as they are about to go out the front door, the bell rings – and so goes their chance to get away without any questions asked.
It’s a silly premise, and what comes next is even sillier – but in a good way. It goes along with pretty much all the tropes that one would and could expect from a Sicilian mafia themed project, but all while bringing some nice bits of fresher comedy in the mix as well – a Greta Thunberg joke here and modern-day mobster hobbies there. Quite practically, Salvo’s criminology skills, acquired from religiously watching American crime investigation TV shows, come quite in handy, to the annoyance of Valentino, who is much more direct in his behaviour and doesn’t like the idea of being dragged into an ever more complex run to establish alibis and avoid questions. We also have the classic set of characters that include the suspicious mother-in-law and the policewoman who also serves as a romantic interest for one of the main characters.
❝There is a surprise in store every now and again.❞
It’s all good fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is exactly what I had hoped for. Of course, the plotline is rather predictable, despite the numerous plot twists and volume of ‘that escalated quickly’ situations. Even so, there is a surprise in store every now and again. Salvo and Valentino have great chemistry (no wonder they had so many collaborations across the years), and watching them react to the various events of the story, which is presented in an almost sketch-like structure, is very entertaining. Of course, this is not exactly high-level filmmaking, but then again, most comedies aren’t. And in today’s inflation of completely unfunny comedies, ‘Incastrati’ does an excellent job. It’s already been renewed for a second season, so we are due for another virtual trip to Sicily before too long.