Monday, April 27, 2015

Detective Zen

We've been watching a three-part series called Zen, about an Italian detective working in Rome. There were going to be more in the series, but it was cancelled...ratings weren't good enough, of course.

The series is based on three books by English writer Michael Dibdin, and strangely enough, the first of the books is actually the third in the series; so plainly there's been some mucking about with the original stories.

The most curious thing about the series, it seemed to me, is that it's filmed in Rome almost entirely with British actors. There's no attempt by these actors to speak in anything but their ordinary accents, including a Northern one and an Irish one. But the main female character in the story is played by an Italian, and the actress, Caterina Murino, has a distinct Italian accent. Which makes you wonder why everyone else doesn't have an Italian accent too. Rather odd.

Rufus Sewell plays Zen, a policeman with integrity - presumably since it's mentioned so often this is something of an anomaly - and he does the role well. But the plots, at least in the TV versions, are pretty muddled, and there are regular characters who come and go without any introduction. They seem to turn up as needed and then are forgotten again.

There's a slight underpacing about the series; it's not that it needs to be all action, but somehow there's a feeling that it could all go just a bit faster and wouldn't lose anything by it. And there's an underlying sleaziness in regard to Murino's character: the policemen in the department have laid bets on who will sleep with her first. This distasteful process continues right through the three episodes, and reduces the impact of some of the characters. Perhaps it's a common thing in Rome. As is police corruption, apparently.

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