Tag Archives: tv series

ZeroZeroZero (2020)

Based on Roberto Saviano’s book, the 8 part series ZeroZeroZero takes a look at the drug trade through the lens of production to delivery. We are not talking about street sales, no we are talking about the shipment of millions of dollars worth of drugs.

The series begins in Calabria, Italy with the emergence of frail, elderly Don Minu (Adriano Chiaramida) from his spartan, yet high-tech under-ground bunker. Don Minu emerges to offer a deal to a rival family. He will buy a large amount of cocaine and offer it at a specified price to his enemies. Don Minu’s grandson, Stefano (Giuseppe De Domenico) isn’t keen on his grandfather’s meeting with his rivals, and while at first this seems like concern, it becomes clear that Stefano hates his grandfather and plots his downfall.

Then in Monterrey Mexico, the Leyra brothers, Jacinto (Flavio Medina) and Enrique (Víctor Huggo Martin) distribute cocaine while hosting lavish parties at their magnificent mansion/compound and whooping it up at the finest restaurants. But the special forces are hot on the trail of the Leyra brothers, determined to bring them down. While capturing and torturing narcos may yield info about the Leyras, they always manage to slip away. ….

Manuel (Harold Torres), a stone-faced church-goer leads his elite squad in his hunt for the Leyras. But Manuel has another agenda which gradually becomes clearer as the series continues.

So we have buyers in Italy and sellers in Mexico. The American Lynwood family, patrirach Edward (Gabriel Byrne) and his 2 adult children, Chris (Dane DeHaan) and Emma (Andrea Riseborough) are brokers, and they broker a deal between Don Minu and the Leyras with the proviso that the large shipment of cocaine will be transported via one of their freighters.

But it’s a long way from Italy to Mexico and things immediately begin to go wrong. …

This is a brilliant and brutal multi-faceted look at the drug trade. At the top of the food chain are the Leyras who are secure and smugly self-assured, and we see their operations at the street level and in the cocaine prep factories where women stripped down to their underwear, package the white powder. Class plays a huge role in this section of the tale with the fat-cat Leyras lording it over those they consider their social inferiors.

It’s fascinating to see the Italian side of things with rival families intent on vengeance. What’s up with all the pigs and for the squeamish, be warned there’s a graphic scene involving a pig slaughter.

The episodes go back and forth between Italy, Mexico and the US, but as the drugs are transported and dangerous complications arise, the focus shifts to Senegal and Morocco.

While we get into the depths of human character, Chris for example, suffers from Huntington’s disease, the emphasis here is power, profit and control. Many lower level characters are executed or killed as the cocaine makes its way to Italy, and there’s the sense that these people, some soldiers in the war on drugs, narcos, and innocent bystanders are all grist for the drug trade. These are people who are willing, or desperate enough to take terrible risks for the money that dribbles their way. Corruption cannibalizes all.

There are a couple of times, incidents take place and there’s a temptation to think that this or that wouldn’t happen, but all I’ll say is that if things seem improbable, it’s only because this jaw-dropping story hasn’t finished yet …

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The Adulterer (Series 1: 2011)

Since the action in the Dutch series, The Adulterer is sparked by an extramarital affair, it’s easy to see how the series acquired its name. While the title evokes racy images, adultery is just one aspect of this complex crime series. The alternate, much more appropriate title is Betrayal or Overspel. 

Attractive magazine photographer Iris van Erkel-Hoegaarde (Sylvia Hoeks) is married to public prosecutor Pepijn van Erkel (Ramsey Nasr), and they have a young son together. Although both husband and wife have good careers and a lovely home, we know almost immediately that something is wrong in their marriage. Perhaps it’s Iris’s complete inertia during sex, or perhaps it’s her ability to tune out? Whatever it is, Pepijn, who appears to be a milquetoast, seems blissfully unaware that his mis-matched wife is completely disinterested in him.

At a show of Iris’s photographs, she meets married lawyer Willem Steenhouwer (Fedja van Huêt) the son-in-law of the criminal real estate magnate Huub Couwenberg (Kees Prins), and sparks fly.

Willem is married to Couwenberg’s daughter, Elsie (Rifka Lodeizen). Elsie is so busy running her barely-staying afloat restaurant, that she’s also unaware that her family is falling apart. Not only does Willem begin an affair with Iris, but Elsie and Willem’s twin teenagers Marco (Jeffrey Hamilton) and Marit (Sirid ten Napel) begin dealing with crises of their own when Marco brutally attacks one of Marit’s friends.

The various worlds of the inter-connected characters are fascinating. Huub Couwenberg and his brain-damaged son, Bjorn (Guido Pollemans), live together in mal-adjusted domesticity, and while Bjorn leads a privileged, somewhat sheltered life listening to rock music, playing violent video games and visiting the local brothel, he tries hard to please his father, too hard as the series shows. Huub alternates between explosive anger and affection for the son who frustrates him: a child in a man’s body.

Then there’s Elsie and Willem who lead separate lives with discontented teenagers thrown into the mix. Marit wants to talk about the criminal activities of the family and Marco wants to emulate his grandfather.

But arguably the most chilling aspect of family life is seen in the home of Iris and Pepijn van Erkel. He seems so harmless–with an almost Danny Kaye harmless, buffoonishness to him, but look closely. He’s all over Iris at her exhibition, and then lets her know when he’s waiting, in bed, for sex.

Soon adultery is at the heart of a web of deceit, lies and murder, and the characters who were at one point, divided into the good/bad categories become shades of grey as loyalties clash and various agendas emerge.

There are a few false cliff-hanging moments but certainly not enough to mar this well-acted, addictive series.

In Dutch with subtitles

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