Two-part Italian mafia drama ‘Transatlantic Ties’ premieres Dec. 12th only on MHz Choice!

My fellow citizens of MHz Nation, we live among those who know nothing of life’s seedier side. Content to traverse the world in innocence, crowding museums and posing in front of fountains, those walking fannypacks out there are missing out the good stuff: the sinister backstreets of Florence, the stark outskirts of Malmö, the bitter cold of a Rostock cobblestone. Not us. We know what evil lurks in the heart of man – and it’s awesome! Settle in for a bumpy ride as we spin the Wheel of Murder.

Get caught up in Transatlantic Ties

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Adriano Giannini stars in Transatlantic Ties

THE SHOW: Transatlantic Ties is a two-part Italian miniseries based on the true story of Boris Giuliano, a legendary Sicilian policeman who boldly took on the Mafia at their most murderous and destructive moment up to that point – which is saying something. The Italian title for this is Boris Giuliano – A Policeman in Palermo, sort of a humble take on what he actually was: a hero. The guy left a stable life to put himself on the line to protect his countrymen from themselves. The modern methodology he instituted – gleaned from FBI training he personally sought out — changed the way organized crime was investigated in the region and likely saved many lives.

THE FORMULA: Obviously, we’re stepping out of the murder mystery formula here for a second – though there’s, sadly, still plenty of murder to go around. But, this fictionalized account of a true police story is still a police story, and comes with all the process-y goodness and tortured cop drama you can take, with the added simmering sauce of the complex Sicilian and Italian law enforcement and legal system. I mean, there’s regular police, state police, military police, magistrates, prosecutors, assorted other officials… If you like watching the secret and often violent ins and outs of how justice is done in a culture that dates back to the beginning of civilization – and I know you do! – Giuliano and co. were putting on a clinic.

[LOCATION] WAS LIKE ANOTHER CHARACTER: Picture it: Sicily, 1963. The whole city of Palermo was mobbed up with drug trafficking and construction payola. Corruption, car bombs and, starting the following decade, the infamous mafia impressment of American pizza parlors into international money laundering schemes! Yes! That happened! It was called the Pizza Connection which, I know, sounds like a strip mall slice joint in Central Florida – and it IS that, also – but was actually an illegal heroin enterprise between the U.S. and Sicily and still stands today as the longest criminal jury trial in the federal courts in American history. Talk about a transatlantic tie. So, what I’m saying is: come for the unbelievably picturesque Southern Italian scenery and charming retro ’60s-’70s details, stay for the multicultural crime wave.

BLANKET STATEMENT: We’re spared most of the more sinister victimizations of your average crime show, but when you remember that the events depicted in Transatlantic Ties actually happened, you might want to pull that blanket over your head after all.

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Boris (Adriano Giannini) listens in on a Mafia wiretap.

HEY, THERE: Let’s talk Adriano Giannini, who plays Giuliano with equal parts virility and humanity. They can put him in as many brown suits and wide ties as they can find, but nothing will hide the fact that the guy is ciao bello. The son of famed Italian actors Giancarlo Giannini and Livia Giampalmo, he’s famous enough in his own right that you may recognize him from the 2012 ABC series Missing, or more ignominious Madonna vanity project Swept Away. Even association with that turkey could not diminish his star quality.

MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: My family happens to be making tentative plans to travel to Italy this summer, and sometimes I wake up from dreams where I am happily drowning in a bowl of pasta. I ask you, what better way to go? Still, you have more options if you’re trying to make your MHz Choice night as authentic as possible. For example, Sicilian-style gelato is known to be the creamiest and most delicious of them and, on the streets of Palermo, you eat it on a brioche bun. What? Yes. The Italians even do ice cream sandwiches more intensely than everybody else. I say: go for it. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid your local Pizza Connection for this one, just to stay on the safe side.

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About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.