Premiering on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery, the best-selling novels of Michael Dibdin come to life in these breathtaking new adaptations from PBS and the BBC. Aurelio Zen (Rufus Sewell, John Adams) is a formidable detective, but he's always put honesty before advancement. The arrival of clever and ambitious Tania (Caterina Murino, Casino Royale) to the team sees Zen's vigor reawakened. Driven by romance, re-energized and armed with a new confidence, Zen's investigations take him from crowded Rome to the spectacular Italian countryside, as he negotiates a complex string of murder cases, never afraid to question authority or use a few unorthodox methods to see justice done. Rufus Sewell brings passion, intrigue and humor to author Michael Dibdin's character in this series set against a visually rich backdrop of Rome at its most stunning.
Detective Aurelio Zen (Rufus Sewell) is scrupulously, almost helplessly honest--which, in the woefully corrupt bureaucracies of Rome, makes everyone think he's incompetent or perhaps a bit stupid. Zen saunters through his cases, not always ahead of things or even on the right track, yet blessed with a gift for landing on his feet when bloody events go down. In "Vendetta," the first episode in this TV series, he investigates a seemingly shut-and-closed case while being hunted himself by someone from a past he's forgotten; in "Cabal," the unveiling of a sinister conspiracy hinges on a safety deposit box and an alluring high-class escort; and in "Ratking," an opulently wealthy family grapples with a kidnapping with precarious political stakes. Throughout, higher authorities push and prod at Zen to come to a desired conclusion, while Zen himself steers towards a delicate romance with a lovely--and married--coworker, Tania Moretti (Italian actress Caterina Murino, Casino Royale
delights the ear and the eye--the plots and dialogue are swift and skilled, while the locations in Rome are gorgeous. Sewell slouches around in tailored Italian suits looking like Marcello Mastraoianni's louche little brother, dissolute on the surface but with a gleam of rectitude in his heavy-lidded eyes. He plays his part with delicious understatement, gleaning sly humor where he can, sometimes playing his cards well and sometimes desperately flailing to catch up with events that have outstripped him. And Zen
may have the sexiest theme music in decades. A well-made and informative making-of featurette rounds out this satisfying set. --Bret Fetzer