Excerpted from : BBC One, Review
Chris Harvey reviews the first episode of series four of 'Lark Rise to Candleford'; plus 'Zen', the new BBC One detective drama starring Rufus Sewell

The Telegraph, 10 January 2011
By Chris Harvey

From the first shot of Sewell as Zen in episode one – dark suit, white shirt, dark tie, shades – all that was missing was a breathy voice-over linking him to a new brand of aftershave: “Between coolness and corruption… Zen.”

It was the first of many similarly glossy moments. Zen’s will-they-won’t-they romance with secretary Tania Moretti (former Bond girl Caterina Murino) was played out in barely-lit locations, their faces illuminated by warm glows. The implication was obvious. Get the Gold Blend on, love, you’ve pulled.

Still, the success of 'Mad Men' has shown that there’s a market for this kind of super-stylish coffee-table TV, especially when there are more teasing elements at play: shades of dishonesty, hidden motives. Dibdin’s Zen novels are set in Italy, so they have lots of those. Their plots were once described as “as tangled as a plate of spag bol”.

Political games were afoot in the opener, and the conspiracies deepened in last night’s episode, Cabal, to involve the possible involvement of a sinister coalition of industrialists, politicians and “very highly placed” members of the church in a dubious suicide.

“There’s people who want this case closed, or else, and there’s people who want this case kept open, or else,” Zen said at one point, which to my ears sounded like a virtual re-run of events in episode one. Still, he was wearing a great suit when he said it, so maybe that didn’t matter.


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