Actress Catherine Spaak in 1966

I rarely write about modern films or new television shows but if you happen to follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably noticed that I occasionally mention movies and TV shows that don’t warrant a full post on Cinebeats. My latest obsession is the BBC import currently playing on PBS titled, ZEN (2011).

Rufus SewellZEN is a modern day cop show starring the handsome & talented Rufus Sewell, who should be a household name by now. Sewell’s character is a Venetian detective named Aurelio Zen and he gets to wear expensive Italian suits while solving crimes in Italy. ZEN takes full advantage of the beautiful setting and there’s lots of show stopping shots of the Italian countryside. In ZEN Sewell’s character lives alone with his mother who happens to be played by the beautiful 66-year-old actress, Catherine Spaak and Spaak’s name should be familiar to fans of Italian films like Pasquale Festa Campanile’s The Libertine (1968), Dario Argento’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1971) and Antonio Margheriti’s Take a Hard Ride (1975). The show is based on a series of books by British author, Michael Dibdin and if I had to guess I’d say that the directors, writers & casting agents are fans of Italian Poliziotteschi films and possibly Italian horror/giallo films. From the groovy soundtrack to the Gothic settings, ZEN is a show that should appeal to some fans of Italian exploitation films, but be forewarned! It’s slow-moving and takes awhile to get going. And the proceedings have naturally been “softened up” for the BBC television audience. And although it’s set in Italy, ZEN is a BBC production so almost all the actors involved are British performers pretending to be Italian and they don’t bother with fake accents. But if you’re looking for something new to watch on TV, you could do a lot worse than ZEN. The first episode is currently available to watch on the PBS website in case you missed it. Just follow the link posted below to find more information about the show:

ZEN : Masterpiece Mystery : PBS

As I’ve mentioned before in various places, PBS is currently running some of the best shows on television including SHERLOCK and DOWNTON ABBEY. You can add ZEN to the list of great shows on Public Television right now.