“Makari” Season 2 – TV Series Review – We Are Movie Geeks


“Makari” Season 2 – TV Series Review

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(L-R) Ester Pantano as Suleima, Claudio Gioe as Saverio and Domenico Centamore as Peppe, in Italian crime TV series “Makari.” Courtesy of MHzChoice

“Makari” Season 2 brings three more cozy light crime dramedies from this Italian TV series. It’s named after a Sicilian coastal village (Macari) that provides the lovely setting for a season of three mysteries in which our set of amateurs become involved. The star is Saverio (Claudio Gioe), a fortyish writer who’s lost his high-profile political press-agent gig due to an even higher-profile screw-up. Tail between his legs and nearly broke, he returns to the village where his father still owns a run-down vacation home, and tries to start a new life in safe, familiar environs.

He’s greeted by old pal Peppe (Domenico Centamore) – a lovable, overly chatty lug who variably helps and annoys our putative hero as he settles in. Saverio’s next acquisition is a girlfriend. He meets a charming, bright waitress, Suleima (Ester Pantano), interrupting her architecture studies to earn money during the town’s tourist-laden summer, and gradually wins her over.

Saverio is no action figure, nor does he go out of his way to get involved in these cases When he does, it’s to be helpful to others, and possibly provide material for the novels he’d meant to write before the call of journalism and politics changed that game plan. His sleuthing is mainly dependent on his friendly, approachable demeanor and intellect. Suleima is helpful, albeit largely from a distance. Peppe is the more active cohort, though his big, friendly puppy nature tends to provide more comic relief than useful support.

The tenor is akin to Terence Hill’s “Don Matteo,” or more familiar British series like “Father Brown” and “Doc Martin,” in the way it’s fleshed out by casts of locals we get comfortable with. Gioe’s Saverio is quite likeable. Pantano’s Suleima is a real gem, looking just beautiful enough to realistically fit the rest of the premise while showing intellect, independence and street smarts to make her an engaging character. Centamore’s Peppe is sort of a cross between Italy’s late, great Bud Spencer, and Zorro’s buffoonish Sergeant Garcia.

Season 2 picks up shortly after the events of the first quartet. Saverio has been back in his eponymous hometown for about a year and isn’t thriving financially. His last book didn’t sell. The publisher is delaying the release of the novel he’s trying to finish, forcing him to accept a gig writing and hosting travel pieces for the web. He needs the paycheck, and raising his profile via the exposure should also boost book sales whenever he finally finishes the one he’s been blocked on for months.

This season again mixes comedy (largely surrounding Peppe) and romance with the easygoing mysteries. Saverio’s relationship with Suleima is strained by geographic distance, exacerbated by how closely and constantly she works with her boss, Teodoro (Andrea Bosca), who seems like a guy few women could resist. He’s handsome, rich, smart and almost unbelievably altruistic. He envisions creating a huge multi-purpose facility that could greatly benefit Sicily’s economy and culture; all meant for the good of the regular people, not the fat cats. Since Saverio is at an all-time career low, his insecurities flourish.

His first assignment is an archaeological dig of great import, overseen by a professor widely considered at the top of the field (no Indiana Jones to compete with in this version of the world). On the eve of announcing whether newly-unearthed stones come from the ruins of an ancient theater scholars have been seeking for centuries, he’s killed. Saverio lands in another sleuthing challenge for himself and Peppe. This death at least brings the unforeseen upside of giving his videos far more hits than expected.

Episode 2 takes him to a tourism village hosting a conference aimed at reducing Mafia influence in Sicily. Two of its leading advocates are valued former colleagues. When one is found dead, Saverio first has to convince the cops that it was murder, rather than the work-avoiding suicide they initially assumed. Were Mafiosi trying to squelch their critics? Or were there other players and motives to consider? The third involves a death that looks accidental, but must be otherwise, or we wouldn’t have much of a story. This one poses a threat to Teodoro and Suleima’s grand project. Again, Saverio has to convince the police not to settle for easy answers, and spearhead the path to solution.

This round is one crime shorter, offering three 110-minute episodes, with less sex and violence than our usual prime-time fare. It ends without cliffhangers, leaving the protagonists in suitable places if it proves to be the end, without precluding a third season. Since these aired in 2022, that remains possible, and would certainly be welcome.

“Makari” Season 2, mostly in Italian with English subtitles, begins streaming on MHzChoice on Tuesday, July 18.

RATING: 3 out of 4 stars