A Zen moment for PBS begins Sunday on Masterpiece

Rufus Sewell stars as Aurelio Zen, a Venetian detective who possesses “an unfortunate reputation for honesty“. As you can imagine, this presents a challenge in the somewhat morally complicated world of the Italian police. A doubly hard existence especially when you are in Rome and are Venetian. Based on author Michael Dibdin’s international best-selling Italian detective series, Zen, the series premieres this Sunday as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series and will continue over the next three weeks.

After screening the first two, Vendetta and Cabal, getting answers in Zen’s life are never easy. Fortunately, he definitely lives up to his name as each story unfolds and seems to place Zen between a somewhat slimy government minister, very convincingly played by Ben Miles (Patrick, Coupling), and his direct superior. While aptly named, the character, Zen, is a definite contradiction in terms as he consistently appears as being completely above board with a hint of possible corruptness and possessing an uncanny ability to get his shoes dirty during an investigation but, at the same time, ever-worried about messing his shoes up.

Zen “Vendetta” trailer


The tortured restraint only amplifies the chemistry between Zen and Tania Moretti, played by brilliantly by Caterina Murino, who just happens to be Zen’s superior’s secretary. Aside from Ben Miles, others in the cast that will be instantly recognizable to public television viewers are Ed Stoppard (Upstairs Downstairs) and Stanley Townsend (Sherlock) and Greg Wise (Return to Cranford).

Rufus Sewell talks Aurelio Zen


While this isn’t the classic mystery detectives of Marple, Poirot or Holmes, it’s well worth the time. Frustrating at times, but if for nothing else, the Italian backdrop is gorgeous.

In: Action/Drama,Actors/Actresses,Mystery

  • Linda Fischl Southworth

    Loved this smart, sexy, beautifully located and well acted series! I really hope the BBC and WGBH will produce more episodes. I’m totally hooked!

    • @Linda: Right there with you but, sadly, my understanding is that the BBC has pulled the plug on Zen so unless another outlet picks it up, that’s all there will be. Shame too. Was a refreshing change to get out of England for a detective series.

  • adrienne baxter-tingley

    I loved the episodes I’ve seen so far – so superior to many of the detective shows. please don’t discontinue, I look forward to it all week!

    • @Adrienne: Would love to help, but only three episodes exist and, by now, you have probably seen them all. The BBC did not renew the series for another season so, I’m afraid, that’s it.