ZEN Series 1 Episode 1 Review

Zen episode 1

ZEN Series 1 Episode 1 – The first episode of Zen (formerly called ‘Aurelio Zen’) is an odd duck indeed. Based on the novels by British author Michael Dibdin, the series follows the exploits of Aurelio Zen, a truth-seeking, introverted police detective trying to get by in a corrupt world.

The first episode works quite well, telling a complex crime story that makes the most out of the gorgeous Italian backdrop without getting too mired down in the (to the average British viewer) foreign culture. The characters are well written, especially Zen (Rufus Sewell, in a brilliant bit of casting), who is both delightfully awkward around his love interest, Tania Moretti, and tensely conflicted when it comes to what his job, and morals, ask of him.

But while it works, Zen is just a bit…odd. The setting is definitely Italian through and through, the written language as seen on signs and plaques is Italian, and yet the spoken language is English and the majority of the cast are British actors with distinct regional accents. We could pass this off as using British accents to represent the different Italian accents, since the entire language has already been changed, but then we have at least one genuine Italian actress who speaks English – with an actual Italian accent.

It isn’t a huge point, I suppose, but it did distract me from the storyline once or twice, though not as much as the hints of French New Wave direction tossed in occasionally and seemingly at random. While not unwelcome, it was just…well, odd.

Zen is a great watch, especially if you can lay the oddities aside and enjoy it for what it is: a sexy yet intricate crime drama.

What did you think of Zen? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow me on Twitter @CrossroadsDeal