Zen (2011, Crime Drama) – 8/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Rufus Sewell: Aurelio Zen
Caterina Murino: Tania Morelli
Ben Miles: Amedeo Colonna
Stanley Townsend: Moscali
Catherine Spaak: Mamma
Francesco Quinn: Gilberto Nieddu
Peter Guinness: Tilo Spadola
Valentina Cervi: Arianna
Sarah-Jane Potts: Cinzia Miletti
Writer (Original Mystery): Michael Dibdin
Writer: Peter Berry
Writer: Simon Burke
Producer: Michael Casey
Director: Jon Jones

Zen (2011)

Aurelio Zen, an Italian police detective, has a reputation for integrity but that will be severely tested when he is assigned to politically sensitive cases. While you can’t please all the people all the time, Zen’s going to give it a good try.


The BBC get their mystery drama output off to a great start in 2011 with Zen starring the inconsistent Rufus Sewell. Fortunately, Sewell appears to be awake for this piece of work and impressively casually strolls around Rome balancing attempts to manipulate him while ensuring justice is executed in whatever case he is on. The addition of the political machinations to the murder mystery works really well and is instantly what makes this show stand out. The central crime plots have all been good and would have been fine in their own right, but justice always looks elusive until Zen brings it all together. Additionally, the tone is light and fun, the scenery is lovely and there is very little objectionable content. This could easily be repeated endlessly on Sunday afternoons. I don’t really like Caterina Murino’s character who is endlessly and remarkably selfish – qualities that turn even the most beautiful woman into something repugnant – but that’s the only real problem I have. Looking forward to a season two.

This Zen episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and gory and unpleasant scenes, violence and sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.