By Annmarie Dean
Three Zen mysteries make their debut this month, July 17, 24 and 31 (at 9 p.m.) to be exact, and my suggestion is to not miss a single one. The series is great…actually, it’s exceptional! Each episode is full of twists, turns, beautiful shots of the city of Rome and Italy’s picturesque landscapes. Of course corruption surrounds Aurelio Zen (Rufus Sewell), from his co-workers at the Questura di Roma to the bureaucrats that run Rome, but he does not falter in his search for truth and justice.
Zen is a good, old-school detective. Running through woods, talking to witnesses, falling into caves and barely ever using forensic science to help solve his cases. In fact throughout the entire series, the only bit of technology you see Zen use is his cell phone. It’s detective work that James Bond would be proud of. Zen is the most honest cop in all of Italy, not even allowing the local café to pay for his morning espresso; no doughnuts for this Venetian.
Sewell looks very dapper in the suits they have him dressed in and he is the essence of sophisticated cool with his designer sunglasses on and hand in pocket as he saunters down ancient streets. With his olive skin and dark hair, the handsome British actor even looks Italian. Sewell plays the part of Zen wonderfully and earns a place in your heart that’s reserved for your favorite television characters only.
The only qualm that viewers might have is the presence of British accents that abound Zen’s Italy. I didn’t find it distracting at all, but you know how some people can be. To pacify them, the director has cast a gorgeous real-life Italian, Caterina Murino, as Zen’s love interest and his chief’s secretary (gasp!); her accent is authentic and thick.
PBS programming is wonderful for a number of reasons, one of which is that it’s commercial free! This way, you are enjoying the full 90 minutes of Zen without interruptions. It’s like you’re watching a movie without the asinine ticket price, $10 bucket of popcorn and $5 pop (or soda to all you non-Buffalonians.)
The series is based on the bestselling thrillers by Michael Dibdin. Lucky for us, it’s an 11 book series so here’s to hoping that they turn them all into Masterpiece Mystery! productions.
Have you tuned in to the newest member of the Masterpiece Mystery! family or are you looking forward to the series? Feel free to comment below.