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This detective drama set in WWI-era Italy should be teeming with historically thrilling mysteries, but it swings and misses....
MHz Networks / 430 Minutes / 2008 / Unrated / Street Date: May 21, 2013
Conceptually, Detective De Luca is a knockout – what’s not to like about a mystery drama that plays out against the backdrop of 1930s and 1940s Italy and all the political upheaval involved with that? This could play out like a John Le Carre novel or The 39 Steps with a spin of historical fiction traced on top of it: let’s give it a shot.
Alas, De Luca is a mess. These four extensive episodes – An Unauthorized Investigation, Carte Blanche, Cloudy Summer, and Via delle Oche – present crimes that you want to see solved, but even with their exotic European appeal, these installments are narratively all over the place. Usually derivative material like this can be redeemed by the establishment of a sense of dramatic mood, but there’s a slippery mediocrity to Detective De Luca that keeps it from leaving a mark.
Diehard mystery fans might have a bit rosier response to Detective De Luca than this writer did, but even though there are elements to appreciate on this Complete Series compilation, it’s a hard sell. Part of the frustration at hand is that somewhere behind these cursory episodes is a conceit that really has the power to enthrall – with better scripts, this thing really might have worked.