Monday, 17 January 2011

The Books of Zen!

No this is not a post about Buddhism! 



Rufus Sewell


I have a new telly favourite, Zen!

Episode 1 aired a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was quite good. After episode 2, I thought, well I really like this. Episode 3, the last one aired last night and now I'm hooked. I loved it!


I tried to figure out why I liked it so much and had to conclude that it was just different to a lot of the crime stuff that we're offered today. A breath of fresh air.

Rufus Sewell is great as Aurelio Zen, the divorced, Venetian, suave, sophisticated and honest, detective who lives with his mother. None of your shouting and swearing from Zen, if anything he underplays the role which works brilliantly.

The length of the episodes is just right at one and a half hours and allows the story to be told without that rushing to complete it in less than an hour like many crime programmes nowadays. This amount of time lets you get to know the characters which I think really does help. No ads too on the BBC so you really get your moneys worth! 


The approach to the casting and script is very quirky. All actors are English and speak with a range of English accents. Zen greets his mother with “Caio Mamma” then in his slightly Cockney accent (well sounds that way to a Northerner) asks “What time is supper”? The only actors without English accents are his girlfriend, played by the beautiful Caterina Murino who looks a little like Sophia Loren, and his mother. They do a lot of that continental double cheek kissing too.

The Italian scenery is gorgeous, it really was filmed in Rome. The parks, churches, cafes, restaurants and apartments really make a delightful change from what we usually see nowadays. Zen himself wanders about in wonderfully cut suits; he would have made an amazing James Bond!

I do like the dry sense of humour too and last night's episode really had me laughing out loud. I won’t say why, that would spoil it.

Just have to hope the series proves popular so we get to see more of Zen. Have to say it’s one of the best programmes I’ve seen in a long while, Well worth the cost, whatever it was.

I must try to get hold of some of Michael Dibdin's books to see how the adaptations compare. From what I've read Zen was a bit older in the books and not quite so cool and laid back. Well there are eleven books so plenty of material for more episodes.

If you missed Zen and can use the BBCs iPlayer I’d recommend you give it a try although you won’t get the benefit of that Roman scenery on a computer. If you can’t access iPlayer you can get a brief flavour on YouTube here, although not a lot of the lovely scenery. A bit of graffiti, a bit of a cafe and a lot of kissing!




Post 171

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