PAMPLONA, Spain — RTVE, The Mediapro Studio and “The Department of Time’s” Javier Olivares are joining forces to fast track “Malaka,” a crime thriller which shows RTVE, Spain’s national public broadcaster, moving into ever more ambitious material as it seeks to attract a nationwide audience now accustomed to the cable edge of streaming platforms.
Set to finalize its shoot in mid-July, “Malaka” forms part of push into larger scale series or ever more surprising genre mashes, such as “Estoy Vivo,” produced by The Mediapro Studio’s Globomedia for RTVE, a supernatural/sci-fi fantasy, cop crime thriller, dramedy, romance and family drama, as a reincarnated cop faces off with his serial killer.
This ambition has already paid off. RTVE’s DLO/Magnolia produced “Monteperdido,” a darker Pyrenean noir in which much of a village come under suspicion of having abducted two young girls, was shot entirely on location in a deep valley carving through the highest Pyrenees.
Averaging a 14% share on TVE 1, and 2.1 million viewers, “Monteperdido,” currently ranks as the sixth most-watched series in Spain this 2018-19 season, according to a ranking presented on Tuesday at Conecta Fiction by Spain’s Gabinete de Estudios de la Comunicación Audiovisual (GECA).
“The Department of Time,” an Onza/The Mediapro Studio production for RTVE showrun by Olivares, remains one of the most-anticipated series in Spain.
Set in Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol, “Malaka” is driven by two events: the only daughter of an important local entrepreneur goes missing, her parents insist; a new drug, Gold, hit the streets of Malaga, threatening to destroy the balance between its Romani and Maghrebi drug clans.
But “Malaka” is above all a story of characters: of Darío Arjona, a loose cannon cop on the take from Malaga’s drug mobs; his new police partner, Blanca Gámez; Quino Romero, a private detective hired to find the missing daughter.
Arjona and Gámez are forced to work together to find the girl and discover who’s behind the Gold. “The truth’s so surprising that nobody will know how to go on living with it,” a plot description said last year when “Malaka” won the main Sgae project prize, a development contract with RTVE.
“We’re talking about characters that are very well composed, contradictory, dual, a mix of good and bad, ring true. Large distances apart, there something of ‘The Wire’ in the series,” said Javier Pons, The Mediapro Studio director of TV and Globomedia CEO.
With its buddy cop set up and the plot of police officer turning to her local town to confront her inner demons, “Malaka” could seem classic Noir, commented series writer, Daniel Corpas Hansen at the Conecta Fiction prrsentation.
But it’s better to depart from classic beats than work towards them, he argued.
Corpas Hansen wrote “Malaka” mentored by Olivares. Marc Vigil, contracted to The Mediapro Studio as a show runner, like Olivares, serves as an executive producer with Corpas and Olivares.
A teaser trailer of the series sneak peaked at Conecta Fiction shows Blanca (Maggie Civantos, star of “Locked Up”) and Darío (Salva Reina) being introduced to one another. They can’t even look each other in the eye, both mortified at being forced to work with the other; Dario driving Blanca to a tough Málaga hood: “Welcome to the Bronx”, he ironizes. The teaser’s pace accelerates rapidly suggesting the characters are on a collision course.
“‘Malaka’ could easily play on a platform,” Pons said. “But TVE has understood that, at a time when the barriers between linear and platform content are disappearing, it could take a step forward, airing a series which isn’t a typical free to air procedural where everything is explained every 10 minutes. ‘Malaka’ leave a lot of questions in the air, so that the spectator decides their answers.”