Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery, starring Salvatore Ficarra and Valentino Picone, is a comedy show lacking in comedy. As the title suggests, it's also a murder mystery, albeit a very poor one. There are twists you don't see coming, but then, you are never fully involved in the series, and thus, you don't engage with it enough to be surprised during the reveals. This is the kind of show you forget about as soon as you finish watching it. Nothing slays; nothing sticks.
If "Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery" were a person, it would have cracked jokes effortlessly, but not all of them would have been funny. Just notice how the series easily inserts gags like the one where a character runs from an operation theater to a tennis court to karate class in search of a doctor. Or the one where multiple versions of Salvo (Ficarra) appear. The jokes are seamlessly integrated into the series, but Ficarra and Picone have no idea how to deliver them visually with perfect comic timing. They succeed only once when some characters are seen sitting in a small car outside a police station. In the rest of the places, there are more misses than hits.
Some bits in the second season look recycled from the first. Valentino (Picone) again spies on his girlfriend, Agata (Marianna Di Martino), a police officer. A character contemplates suicide while sitting on the terrace, and Tonino (Tony Sperandeo), who almost looks like Fat Tony, gets a very emotional flashback scene. That last moment again feels jarring and out of sync with the lighthearted tone of the series. Tonino stutters when he lies, and this is something Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery - apart from two or three instances (one of them comes during the mentioned flashback scene) - fails to utilize effectively.
And that's another problem with the series. The quirkiness of the characters is blunted and nullified. Salvo's obsession with a crime series is turned into something sentimental as Ester (Anna Favella) uses it to connect with him. Antonietta's (Mary Cipolla) fixation with controlling her kids (she wants Ester to leave Salvo and desires that her son, Valentino, continues staying with her at her house) is tinged with a moral lesson (don't treat your adult child like a 15-year-old). Things that should have been treated with the lightness of comedy are injected with the weight of drama. The result is a complete tonal mismatch, as the show becomes clueless about its intentions. The scenes unfold aimlessly, without knowing whether they want to make you laugh or cry. There are times when you wonder if a particular scene should be taken at face value or as a parody, like Tonino's depressing flashback. I am still surprised it was allowed to play at such a high emotional pitch.
The weakest thread in Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery is the one concerning Salvo and Ester. Their will-they-won't-they-get-back-together relationship is extremely tiring and uninteresting. Given, we are meant to laugh at the antics of Salvo and Valentino, it seems strange that they are mostly made to look deplorable. They come across as dumb characters who come bearing double standards. It's hard to like a character who is pissed at his wife for having an affair with someone when he is far from a paragon of innocence.
Salvo had an affair with a woman in the past and was forgiven by Ester. Moreover, Salvo is so blind he cannot notice that his obsession with crime shows was the reason behind Ester's extramarital relationship. Instead of showering even an iota of attention on his wife, he surrounded his vision with The Touch of the Killer. I don't think Salvo changes at the end of the second season, and rather than making him realize his mistakes, the series focuses more on changing Ester (she becomes a fan of the crime shows). We are never convinced that women like Ester and Agata would ever choose to stay with foolish men like Salvo and Valentino.
The only good thing about Framed! A Sicilian Murder Mystery is that it consists of six episodes, and each of them runs for nearly 30 minutes. It's very easy to binge-watch this show, and it's easier to remove it from your thoughts. Actually, it's so bland it will automatically vacate your mind within a few hours.
Final Score- [4/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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