Bond Girls and “Berlusconi” Makes BBC Detective Drama Zen a Wild Ride, 23 November 2010
By Daisy Aitkens

Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and now Aurelio Zen. Why are screen detectives so damn sexy? It’s enough to make me lynch a baddie and leave a tantalising trail of clues that lead straight to me smouldering in a red frock.

And so we welcome Rufus Sewell as the fictional Italian detective, Zen, in three new feature-length dramas for BBC One. Italian suit? Check. Smoking profusely? Check. Wry, single raised eyebrow comments when about to be splattered to death? Checkity check, check. Well, what do ya know, we got ourselves another sexy detective.

Aurelio Zen is down on his sleuth luck. The office hottie doesn’t know he exists, he lives with his mum and he hasn’t done that thing you’re supposed to do with cases that you also do with walnuts… He hasn’t cracked one. That’s what he needs. A good case to crack.

Then one comes along: A politician is caught in a compromising position with a couple of prostitutes (he probably claimed for them, tut, tut) and then is promptly gunned down, sex workers and all. Who, may I ask, dun it?!

'Zen, Vendetta' the first of the trilogy of films on BBC One is a generic and clichéd detective flick. And I’m still trying to figure out why I loved it so immensely.

One reason has to be the star of the show. Beautiful, charismatic and charming… Naturally, I’m talking about Rome. The films, based on the best selling novels by late Michael Dibdin, are set in and around the city and it makes for a delicious backdrop.

A one-way ticket of escapism from our grey UK skies. Our two leads also posses a sizzling chemistry. Caterino Murino, from 'Casino Royale' fame, is our captivating female lead and is simply lovely to watch. The men can drool, the women can ponder her great skin care regime. It is also a plus to have a true Italian in the heady mix.

The script whips through the action nicely making you gasp and yelp in all the right places. Complete with car chases, bullet dodging (it never hits the lead?!) and stolen kisses.

One sequence of nail-chewing scenes sees Zen lost and stumbling through a maze of underground caves. The claustrophobe in you will spring to life as you watch him swimming through tunnels, scrambling for air space. The anal side of you will also make an appearance: how does he keep that suit so clean?

Rufus Sewell says he was keen to take the part for it’s humorous spirit and, due to this light outlook, he brings an easy and incredibly likable quality to Zen.

Ben Miles also makes an appearance as the shady government bod who gives orders from blacked out cars in underground car parks. He demands Zen finds the real killer of Belascon- I mean, “the politician”, or he is set to lose his job.

Then there are the other seriously scary baddies gunning after him for another ‘wronged man’ case. I, personally, would chuck a sickie but Zen careens through offices, woodlands and gorgeous mansions with equal charm and determination to crack the case.

The show and the title character never take itself too seriously which make it akin to sleeping in or dancing to a cheesy 80’s tune – a guilty pleasure that’s the perfect escape.

Back to Articles Listing | Back to