In pursuit of the Mafia


Octopus 6
With Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Remo Girone and Patricia Millardet
SBS TV, Saturday, February 19, 8.30 p.m. (8.00 Adelaide)
Reviewed by Kate Shannon

In the opening scenes, Inspector Davide Licata (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) is gunned down by a Mafia killer. After recovering, he reluctantly agrees to join a special investigation squad to resume tracking down the Mafia "big fish". The latest series of Octopus, over 12 episodes, traces Licata's pursuit.

Licata is enraged when a "big fish", Espinosa, is released because of advanced cancer. Confronting Espinosa with his scepticism, Licata is told the six months Espinosa has left to live are worse than a long prison sentence. Unfortunately, in real life, Mezzogiorno died of cancer only three weeks ago.

Life for those in the judiciary who dare to challenge the authority of the Mafia is portrayed with the daily escorts and armed guards provided for Silva Conti (Patricia Millardet), the crusading judge. Even such measures have not protected many Italian judges and magistrates.

The first episode is fast-moving. Even if you don't speak Italian, you soon forget you're reading subtitles. As with any program set in Italy, you get a glimpse of the magnificent buildings one associates with its history.

Part of Italy's history too is the Mafia and its influence, not just in the field of blatant crime but also its political influence and corruption. One senior Mafia figure in the first episode refers to how life is changing for the Mafia. It's not clarified what he is referring to. Is it a coincidence that action soon shifts to Milan? Known in Italy as "bribe city", Milan is where the exposure of the corruption scandal now shaking the Italian political system and business world first began.

Collusion between the Mafia and the Christian Democrats is also being investigated, causing support for the CD to plummet. Even in the Mafia heartland of Palermo in Sicily, la Rete, an anti-Mafia movement, won 75% of the mayoral vote. Life is indeed changing for the Mafia.

In the opening episode the judiciary and police are the good guys. In reality, it isn't only politicians that are in the Mafia's pocket. Whether future episodes of Octopus 6 touch on the controversial issue of corruption in high places, it appears to be a better than average detective series.

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