Nope, not a lifestyle choice, nor a particular Chinese film you’ve heard of, this Zen is a short BBC series by the BBC. Starring Rufus Sewell as Venetian detective Aurelio Zen, the location is Rome, Italy. Each episode is 90 minutes long so, in a sense, it seems that the BBC used this as a precursor to Sherlock in form factor.

Zen is an amiable detective. Committed to his work and has a reputation of integrity so he’s targeted by the ministry to oversee specific cases that they have an ‘interest’ in. This does cause inner conflict with Zen as he finds himself stepping over his moral lines sometimes. Rufus Sewell looks cool in his Italian suit and seems effortlessly at home sipping espressos and roaming the cityscape of Rome.

I enjoyed the series, the culture that’s shown, Zen’s challenge with his own moral code and what he is asked to do and the mysteries that he investigates.  He has to wrap these cases to please the ministry and his own boss, so there’s some political intrigue to enjoy as well.

The only thing I would criticise is the use of northern English actors rather than either Italian or more subtle English stars.  There is Caterina Murino who is from Sardinia, but most of the cast speak with northern accents which is a bit odd, especially since background speech is in Italian.  A small thing since the stories are so captivating.


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