User Reviews (18)

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  • First, a synopsis, sine IMDb doesn't provide one: A private bank in Brussels has its locker room broken into, and the contents of some selected safes burgled, but only of their documents, not money. Turns out those safes belonged to prominent members of Belgian politics and society. The burglars use those documents to blackmail said prominent members. Enter Paul Gerardi, a Belgian police detective, who gets a whiff of the robbery and soon finds himself in over his head, as neither the robbers nor the victims care for a public police investigation.

    The premise holds a lot of promise but the execution is by-the-numbers. People get killed for, in retrospect, no useful reason. A fair amount of investigative clues just conveniently fall into the detective's hands. The story doesn't make it seem as if he earned them. The main narrative arc of the first few episodes seems pointless, and could have been avoided had some of the main characters just talked to each other. The conclusion falls within the zone of predictability, and yet could only get there via a serendipitous series of developments in the final few episodes.

    Having said all that, this is still a fairly watchable series. There are hit men to be avoided, car tails to be lost, criminals to be identified and caught, and the pacing is competent enough for a decent fortnight's romp.
  • It's a good premise for a television drama serial: that Belgium is in the grip of a secret society, a hybrid of the fascists and the Freemasons, crossing all walks of life. It's an especially powerful idea in Belgium because that country has relatively week political parties and perpetual coalition; which makes the idea that real power lies elsewhere especially effective. Then you have a standard thriller set up, with the honest cop, various people in the government trading off their own interests and instincts in different ways, the society's members (and they have their own internal power struggles), and finally a mysterious gang of bank robbers with a hidden agenda of their own. Taken as a whole, it's preposterous, as all such dramas are, but it's also fast-paced, well-acted and cleverly plotted. Three quibbles: why would a group of senior public figures keep evidence incriminating themselves in a bank, instead of just destroying it? Isn't money the true power in our society anyway? And while the Salamander organisation seems to be reasonably good at getting people killed, we don't see any evidence of it actually achieving anything else; for a supposed group of all-powerful people, they seem to spend the entire story on the defensive. But it's still gripping stuff, and thankfully avoids the "psychopathic genius" nonsense that spoils a lot of similar work.
  • After watching the first couple of episodes, I was completely hooked, the guy who plays the lead is a fantastic actor and the more you watch, the more involved in his life you become and instead of being the usual crime/whodunit mystery, it evolves into a personal mission for Geradi to find the truth. I love Belgium, and it is a great country, so the fact that this story has the backdrop of such a great location and history adds to its appeal. This mini-series seriously competes with other US addictive thriller rides, and yet has something more endearing and genuine at its heart. I loved it, and only wish they would do a second series with the lead character solving another new mystery.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An excellent series. Had all the ingredients of a thrilling crime/political drama - a convoluted plot line, secret dealings between people in power, ethical dilemmas, a strong lead character and violence (but not too much violence).

    The plot is rooted in a secret that has its origins in the Second World War. I wasn't initially keen on the flashbacks to this period as they seemed a distraction from the main events, but as the story progressed and the link from the past to the present became clearer, this historical angle gave the series even more strength and depth.

    Filip Peeters is excellent as Paul Gerardi, the disgraced detective that is the only person to have the nerve to pursue the secret Salamander society and risk life and limb in doing so. He is supported by an excellent and large cast who come in and out of the story.

    The role of women portrayed in the series is disappointing. All of the main protagonists are men. The only women to really feature are Paul Gerardi's wife and daughter, the wife of a politician who takes a liking to Paul, and the woman he falls in love with near the end. These women are on the whole powerless and at the mercy of the men around them. Women could have been used in some of the other roles to better effect.

    Aside from a handful of episodes in the latter half of the series where things seemed to slow down a bit, Salamander is top notch, an excellent piece of television.
  • Ran across this series on Netflix, and was surprised when I turned it on and heard the sounds of the Flemish language, which I know well from my many years living in Belgium and the Netherlands. My experience with the country made this show especially interesting for me, since Belgium actually is a bit of a cauldron of political tensions and conspiracy theories. A horrific pedophile scandal involving government officials and including the deaths of some young girls tore the country apart in the 1990s, and I'm not sure they have ever recovered.

    Apart from that, it's a fairly typical lone-cop-against-conspirators story, but with a bit more European subtlety and flair than American equivalents like "24" and "Scandal." It's pretty well-paced and certainly held my attention for its 12 episodes. I have mixed feelings about Filip Peeters in the lead role - he seemed to have the same bewildered expression on his face most of the time - but this series is more story than character driven. It's certainly worth your time as a change of venue from the usual thriller.
  • Never having encountered Belgian TV before, my expectations were modest. This starts as a cop show but quickly develops into a political/power drama with more than a touch of edge to it. Characters are allowed to develop, the acting is realistic, shooting is stylish, it has drama, baddies, an occasional chase and some small gunfire - a central angle is how can the lone good guy succeed against the big baddie machine?

    Its a bit different from the run of the mill, reasonable production values, quality acting, different faces (maybe not for a Belgian audience?) Euro feel - its pulled me in.

    Its being shown on BBC 2 episodes at a time, now after 10 from 12 I can't wait for the finale - got a feeling the hero will survive, not so sure about those he cares for.
  • Lejink16 February 2014
    Selected by BBC4 to replace the Saturday night spot traditionally taken by moody, brooding Nordic Noir series like "The Killing" and most recently "The Bridge", this Flemish cop-drama is very different in tone, but entertaining for all that.

    I'm about three episodes in and while the plot lacks the darker undertones of its Scandinavian predecessors and there's far less character development too, both these aspects are commendable in my eyes in avoiding over-complexity in the plotting and the sometimes overdone quirkiness and personal problems of the main characters.

    The central character interest is a transparently big, bluff everyday senior detective in the Belgian police, Paul Gerardi, who finds himself involved in sinister machinations when an underworld source tells him a major private bank has been broken into and yet has chosen not to report it to the police and indeed actively tries to cover up any sign of the break-in. Moreover, the robbery didn't involve money or bullion but rather the personal effects of some 66 highly connected individuals in Belgian society. Naturally, there's a malevolent, powerful network behind all this who will stop at nothing it appears to maintain the secret and who wish to silence Gerardi from bringing the matter to light.

    Pacily filmed, more in daylight than the dark, I rather like the fact that it's more about the story than the characters' hang-ups although the latter may yet be invoked to pad out the next nine episodes but I'm hoping instead on a twisty-turny roller-coaster ride as Gerardi presumably avoids capture, finds out more about the mysterious "Salamander" group and their aims and the motives of the only scarcely glimpsed gang-leader behind the initial theft.

    While I don't expect my insides turned outside-in, I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of this so far entertaining and involving production.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This twelve part Belgian drama follows the investigations of police inspector Paul Gerardi as he investigates a break in at a private bank. Thieves broke in and took the contents of sixty six carefully chosen safety deposit boxes. The boxes belong to members of the Salamander Group; some of the most powerful people in Belgium and everybody involved would rather Gerardi didn't investigate as they don't want the contents of the boxes becoming public knowledge… to such an extent that things get very dangerous for Gerardi and those around him. Meanwhile those responsible for the break in start sending copies of sensitive stolen material to members of Salamander leading to some high profile resignations and suicides. As the series progresses we learn how Salamander came to be formed and why they are being targeted by somebody who clearly wants to destroy them.

    This Belgian crime thriller proved to be a gripping addition to BBC4's 'Euro-Crime' slot; the opening got me gripped and as each double episode passed I found myself keen to discover what happened next. I had been expecting a fairly standard investigative drama but here the victims of the crime seem more concerned with shutting down the investigation than the thieves… indeed the more we learn the more we sympathise with the person behind the theft compared to his victims. The cast do a solid job; especially Filip Peeters who plays the somewhat dishevelled Gerardi. The ending seemed to wrap everything up fairly neatly but apparently a second series is being written.
  • Lately I've been watching and re-watching many films in my favorite exploitation sub-genre, the Italian Poliziotesschi or Eurocrime- thriller, and it's undoubtedly thanks to those films that I valorized and enjoyed my second viewing of "Salamander" on Belgian television even more than the first time. Apart from the different country setting and not featuring the guerrilla filming-style or overly excessive violence, "Salamander" basically is a Poliziotesschi stretched over 12 episodes. The story of one tough and unbreakable police detective single-handedly battling against an unknown but relentless criminal organization, but even more so against his superiors and the corrupt national legal & political system! Of course I realize this series isn't really modeled after gritty and sleazy Italian cop thrillers, but it was fun to see the same ideas and principles here in a much more polished and prominent (for Belgian standards) TV-format. Of all the great things about this series, the most praiseworthy aspect certainly is the script. The basic idea is already fantastic, but the further unfolding of the mystery, with all its crucial supportive characters and numerous convoluted twists, is so unbelievably compelling and intelligent that it's actually unseen on Belgian television.

    Early one morning, well-organized and utterly disciplined men break into the vault of a bank and steal the content of 66 specific safety deposit boxes. The bank in question – Bank Jonckheere - is a private and very prestigious bank, however, and the safe-owners are all highly eminent and influential people (ministers, senators, magistrates, business tycoons, generals…) who use their deposit boxes to safeguard secretive documents like hidden financials, photos of orgies and sexual escapades, blackmail, political cover- ups and slush funds. Whoever owns all this stolen information has the power to destabilize and literally pull the plug out of the entire country, and that is clearly what he/she wants to achieve. Via Joachim Klaus, the top-criminal who organized the heist, the instructor gradually sends back copies of the safes' content to the rightful owners, and abrupt resignations, chaos in the parliament and even suicides immediately ensue. The heist was never reported to the police, for obvious reasons, and the concerned magistrates are holding off an investigation. Inspector Paul Gerardi nevertheless examines a tip from an informant and quickly ends up in a position that put his career, healthy and loved ones in great danger.

    With all the scandals and corruption that occurred here in Belgium during the past 20-25 years, the script of "Salamander" becomes extra realistic and plausible. I'm convinced that every fellow Belgian who watched this series also thought at one point or another (and probably several times): "Surely this is really going on in those ivory towers in Brussels". The mystery around the bank heist is upheld very admirably and, in the end, all the little pieces of the large puzzle neatly fit together. "Salamander" contains a lot of action compared to traditional Belgian detective/krimi-series, and every episode features at least a few grisly murders, violent shootouts or wild chases. The acting performances are really high- level, with familiar and famous Belgian faces even in the smallest supportive roles. Everybody gives stellar performances, and several cast members even play their best roles in many years, like Jo De Meyere, Mike Verdrengh, Vic De Wachter and An Ceurvels. The second season will start airing on Belgian TV soon, early 2018, I think.
  • Recent decade has seen so vast accrual of UK and Scandinavian crime thrillers, including political ones, that those coming from other European countries have often remained in the shadow. Being a fan of "modern" crimes series (i.e. without episode-based case settlements), I have tried to broaden my mind; thanks to Internet and IMDb, it is far easier than decades ago.

    Based on some previous knowledge about Salamander, I was surprised at first as the first 1-2 episodes were rather slow and amply sentimental, although some events aside could create more robust and fixed approach. But then the characters and scenes became nicely fit for a crime thriller and the inclusion of past events made the storyline more versatile and with interesting twists. Both adversaries had their ups and downs and casualties, and even if you could guess some things happening next, there was still plenty of space for surprises. Beautiful urban and rural landscapes formed a nice background to otherwise nasty or sad events.

    As for the performances, the males were more convincing and significant, particularly Filip Peeters as Paul Gerardi and Jo De Meyere as Armand Persigal; I have to admit that it was my first aware familiarisation with Belgian/Flemish actors. I will look forward to meet them again, eventually in another similar creation.
  • martimusross15 April 2018
    This is brilliant in every way, complex script, gripping drama, great acting, flawed hero. I loved it and so will you
  • macpet49-130 September 2014
    This is what is going on in all the West and has been in the East for decades--organizations of corporations determining policy and human history. It's difficult to watch because you realize we are here and there is no turning back. As far as the show is concerned, the only lame part is that in REAL life the bad guys rarely get found out and even if they do, they are covered by other countries/friends in high places who bail them with more lies and stories. Besides, the general populace has a short memory. We are so pummeled with news stories that we forget things we heard 2 days ago. I think Big Brother was always depending on that. Keep the general public happy playing with their toys and eating their junk foods and we won't have any problems with them.
  • markfranh19 July 2018
    My wife and I managed 1 and a half episodes of Series 1. The early part of Episode 1 set a reasonable tone for what might have been an interesting series. Unfortunately, it took a worrying turn into the absurd about half way through. After about 20 minutes of episode 2, we concluded it was getting totally preposterous with so many unbelievable assumptions and premises for what was going on that it just became totally unwatchable. Series abandoned and we will be looking for something else. A shame as the brief summary of the series had been so promising but the reality was something else entirely.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Tapping into the increasingly popular Scandinavian and Belgian made movies this thriller was decidedly less than thrilling. The story started well enough but by the second episode you are asking yourself if the story could be supported if it weren't for some fortuitous and most unlikely coincidences. The lead detective has the misfortune to be axed from the 'investigation' after all the witnesses conveniently kill themselves or are killed. If you are among the group of viewers that STILL believe the Road Runner can run off a cliff and run back on....if he's REALLY quick....then this will probably appeal to you but for the rest of us, there's just TOO MANY coincidences we need to accept in order to even half believe this unlikely plot. Not for the critical viewer.
  • kcurry-5321621 August 2020
    We really liked Season 1. We like Season 2 also but the main character (Paul Gerrardi) got fat so he doesn't seem as cool.
  • Just finished Season 2. Have really enjoyed this. Can't really fault it.
  • The plot is completely ridiculous to say the least... Everything is predictable, the characters are deep as a piece of paper and Gerardi, the inspector and main character is possibly the stupidest detective ever created in the history of television. From a weak casting (the acting is really low-level, don't expect a Oscar-winning role from these guys) to bad editing and directing skills, the series is a complete disappointment and I can't really recommend it. If you want some good thriller or investigating European series, try to watch The Bridge (Bron - Broen). Salamander is not even a thriller, since you know everything before it happens, including the pathetic explosions and creepy cheesy sentimental crappy scenes.
  • chrisdorf-8402421 July 2018
    There was a time were entertainment mediums were just... entertaining. Nowadays more and more get infected by political ideologies.

    I'm so sick of it.