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Inspector Montalbano

Sat Nov 2, 9-10.45pm, BBC4

Series two, episode three
It’s Il Dottore’s birthday, but no day off for Montalbano. After a quick chat with his missus and the offer of a live octopus from a fisherman, he gets into a beef with an irate driver.

This turns into something rather bigger when said motorist – the son of the province’s president – has his girlfriend bumped off. Then a supermarket is robbed and an apparent suicide follows – could there be a link? With Catarella and Galluzzo in monumentally imbecilic form (how are they still in jobs?), Montalbano has to do the intellectual heavy-lifting himself, scrabbling around two cases with deep roots.

The plotting is so mechanical that you can hear the gears squeal and the treatment quaintly old-fashioned. But no one watches ‘Inspector Montalbano’ in the hope of a transcendental viewing experience. It’s another lavishly appointed time-passer which – with the final series of ‘Borgen’ now tantalisingly close – we’re prepared to indulge for a little longer.