Guest post – Zen Alert: Starts Sunday, July 17 on PBS

Zen Alert! The BBC Detective Series starts Sunday, July 17 on PBS

The excellent three-part BBC series staring British actor Rufus Sewell begins on Masterpiece Mystery! on PBS with the Vendetta episode on Sunday, July 17. Cabal airs on July 24, and the last episode, RatKing on July 31. I reviewed the series in depth earlier this year.

Rufus sums up the professional side of Detective Aurelio Zen this way: “He has a slightly lackadaisical moral code, a sense of wanting to do something good. But he’s not above kicking someone when they’re down. He’s a gray area, and that’s what makes it incredibly fun.” This clip about a suicide note portrays that sentiment perfectly:

And the romantic side of Zen is just as intriguing:

Check out a PBS behind-the-scenes compilation (excerpts from the Extras on the DVD) here and the Vendetta episode trailer from PBS on YouTube. For more than a dozen Zen clips, go to my YouTube channel.

The series is smart, sytlish, sophisticated, and unfortunately, too short. No further episodes are planned… yet. Catch all three for a surprisingly unique, refreshing take on the TV mystery/crime genre. Enjoy the mini Roman holiday… Addio!

Thoughts about the Zen series? Let us know. Grazie!

27 thoughts on “Guest post – Zen Alert: Starts Sunday, July 17 on PBS

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi Hobbes, I’ve seen each episode at least two or three times, and love them more every time I watch. It will be worth the wait, I’m sure!

  1. I dig what I have seen from this guy and to this day, “Dark City” remains one of my favorite films. He’s another one of those guys that I feel should be much more famous than he is because he has such an amazing presence on screen. More often than not, I end up seeing him playing bad guys in stuff like “A Knights Tale” or “The Illusionist” so it’s good to see him breaking type.

    1. PrairieGirl

      Yes, Rufus has been amazing from the very start, even in his very first film, Twenty-One. And he’s tried hard to shed the bad guy image, even though he’s a very good villain. He can play anything, from comedy to sleuth. I don’t really mind so much that he’s not as famous as he should be, I just wish he was more prolific. It yet may come, let’s hope so.

  2. Hi, PrairieGirl and company:

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Been a fan of Rufus Sewell since ‘Dark City’. His laid back, lackadaisical, yet very comfortable with any role approach is very similar to that of Jeff Bridges, who’s made a cottage industry of it.

    That I’ve completely not heard of this BBC series (Huge ‘Sherlock’ fan) gives that much more impetus to watch!

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi Jack, glad to hear you want to watch! I actually like Zen a lot better than Sherlock, who is very slick and confident, and knows his every move. It’s great to see a detective like Zen with a very human side, who doesn’t have all the answers, either in the “murder squad” or in his love life. That’s exactly what Rufus wanted to get across with his character, and he does it masterfully, and with quite a bit of subtle humor thrown in along side.

  3. Thanks for the heads up PrairieGirl. I might catch this on TV and see what the fuss is all about! Always liked Rufus, and always wondered why he isn’t working all that much.

  4. PrairieGirl

    Hi Castor, hope you enjoy it if you do watch. I too wish there was more of him on the screen, I always hope for more. He can get really picky about the roles he’ll take, and I sure think he should be offered better parts. But he sure hits a grand slam with Zen ;-D

  5. That looks like it could be entertaining, like a modern version of Poirot. You couldn’t wish a for a better setting than Rome, brings back memoeries of our trip there earlier this year. Also, it is unusual to see a crime drama set in the sunshine, we are accustomed to to gloomy streets and rainy windows over here. Except for Midsomer Murders which is actually set in the least dark and murdery-looking place you can imagine and yet the murder rate would rival any major city. But then it would be a bit of a disappointment if it didn’t I suppose, being a murder mystery and all.

  6. PrairieGirl

    Hi Ronan, never seen Poirot, might have to check it out. Somehow I can’t get past his cheesy mustache! Oh how lucky you are to have had a trip to Rome. There are no sets in the entire series, every scene is on location, inside and out, which I much prefer over sets, and the lighting is simply stunning, both day and night, through all episodes. Scene transitions are also some of the best I have ever seen in a TV series. The music fits perfectly too. If you’re accustomed to gloom and rain, you must be in Britain? ;-D, The series premiered there in January, but the DVD is quite available.

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hey Ted, you’re very welcome. Will love to know what you think about it. Don’t give up after the first one, they will grow on you ;-D

  7. PrairieGirl

    Oooooh is right, my Dezzy darling! I have to be sure I’m sitting down when I gaze at that pic, otherwise I’d just swoon and fall over right then and there… Going to print it out right now, I’ll have to be extra careful (grin).

  8. FUNK

    Wow, thanks for the heads-up. This should be a goood one.
    I’ve also been a Rufus fan since his Dark City days, and really liked his role as Agamemnon in the TV movie Helen of Troy.

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi again Funk, love that so many around here at FC are long-time fans of my movie boyfriend Rufus. Dark City is high on everyone’s list. And strangely, I love what happens to him in the pool at the end of HOT, he can play any situation so well ;-O

      1. FUNK

        Hi Ya, PrairieGirl, how has your day been going.
        Today is my lucky day, I was just browsing around in Itunes, and stumbled upon Zen, so I picked up the season pass, 1st episode clocks in at 1hour and 28 minutes. It’s going to be a ZEN Friday night:)

        1. PrairieGirl

          Hi Funk, glad you get to see the episode in it’s entirety. As I was watching last night, an entire 5-minute scene was deleted. (Any one who watched on PBS on Sunday can see the deleted scene here:
          They also had to have snipped at least 10 more minutes here and there throughout. LOVE iTunes! Glad to see it up so quick, enjoy ;-D

          1. FUNK

            WoW!!, just finished watching the 1st episode of ZEN and boy is it a goood one, looked great in HD as well, with all the scenic shots and great locations it had it was quite the treat. Rufus shines again (I wonder what his workout regimen is), and I’m hooked on the show, can’t wait for the next one to come out. Why can’t Hollywood crank out a show with that much quality and pacing??

            1. PrairieGirl

              Hi Funk, Soooooo glad to hear you liked Zen. It is an amazing series, fresh and retro at the same time, and quality, that’s for sure. It’d be very easy for somebody to pick up the series and continue it… someone… please!!!

              1. FUNK

                The Plot Thickens!
                Finished episode 2 and man o man is this show getting better. Every time Zen meets someone at his I guess favorite Cafe or the Bar Quadrani, I get a craving for some good high-speed java and a pastry. I really like the dialog with his wife, then when he got back from his side trip his conversation with his mother. They must of thought he did it on purpose to skip out.. Was surprised at AOC. Can’t wait for the 3rd one to come out.

  9. PrairieGirl

    Hi FC readers, I made a clip of the deleted scene in Vendetta with the “Ukranian” Italian, Avel Vasko ( To keep it in context the clip starts at Zen’s first mention of him to officer Mario about his photograph. I love this scene, can’t believe they would cut out such a big chunk.

    No wonder there were criticisms about the plot and story line, there was a lot that was lost without this scene. So do they deliberately plan to cut 10 minutes out of every 90 to “force” you to buy the DVD that has the complete episode? Well, maybe yes and no. I’d always buy the DVD anyway, of course ;-D. (and the Vendetta episode was already up on iTunes yesterday.)

  10. PrairieGirl

    Hi everyone, I have the major deleted scenes for Cabal up on my YouTube channel now; they weren’t as egregious as Vendetta, but they all are well worth watching, more of Ruf to hold close to your heart ;-D

    1. FUNK

      Just got the 3rd episode, how many of these are the cranking out?
      I tell you they are so superior than anything I think Hollywood is putting out these days. I’m probably going out on a limb here, but seeing Rufus in this type role, I can’t help but think he’d make a damn fine Bond..

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