A BBC detective series which began in January 2011, starring Rufus Sewell and Caterina Murino. Adapted from the series of detective novels by Micheal Dibdin.
Aurelio Zen, detective in the city of Rome, has a bad habit of being honest (which is somewhat of a rarity amongst Italian policemen) and sometimes digging too deep into the cases that otherwise should have been quietly closed and buried. Having such a reputation attracted a few men in power who wish to use him and his talents in covering up cases requiring... subtlety.
And now, detective Zen solves cases while juggling various political forces at work, struggling with his personal life and, more often than not, dodging bullets coming from completely unrelated third sides.
BBC axed the series after 3 episodes, citing an over-saturated market for cop shows.
This series contains examples of
- Amicably Divorced: Averted hard.
- Always Murder
- Awesome McCoolname: Aurelio Zen!
- Bald of Evil: Tito Spadola.
- Best Served Cold: Tito has a little list: The judge who railroaded him, the chief "witness," and the lead cop on the case -- Zen himself.
- The Bet: The detectives in Zen's department routinely hold betting pools over whether someone will die, be it a hostage held for ransom, or even their own chief as he languishes in a hospital!
- Who in the department will bed Tania first? (see Side Bet below) Zen, of course. Keeping this a secret is a running gag through all 3 episodes.
- Blackmail: At least once an episode, Zen will blackmail The Minister in return for keeping quiet about the things he knows.
- Consummate Liar: Following his conviction on three counts of murder, Renato Favelloni has retracted his confession and found religion (to the government's everlasting woe).
- Corrupt Church: CABAL
- Da Chief: Angelo
- Deconstruction: The series can be considered a pretty realistic portrayal of what would happen were the typical protagonist of a detective story ever thrust into a typical real-life police workplace. Particularly one such as Italy's.
- Dirty Cop: Acknowledged and endemic and is true of Zen himself to a degree (when higher-ups say he has.... integrity, this is pretty much a euphemism for "can be bought and will keep quiet", although it's more true than they think)
- Establishing Character Moment: Zen has integrity, dammit. We knew this straight away because, when he tries to pay for his espresso, the barista sas, "Come on, Aurelio, you know it's always on the house." But Zen pays anyway.
- Everybody Smokes
- Fake Nationality: It goes without saying that the "Romans" are played by dyed-in-the-wool, jolly well good, ridiculously British actors.
- Firing One-Handed
- Head Desk: After dropping Tania off at a bar and seeing her leave shortly thereafter with another guy, Zen bangs his head on the steering wheel. Luckily for him, it's Tania's gay best friend.
- Hello, Attorney!: Nadia Prillo, chief prosecutor of city of Rome.
- High Class Call Girl: Ariana
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Angelo's cardiac system seizes up after Zen gives a particularly unsatisfying report.
- To be fair, Angelo had been ranting up a vein-bulging storm earlier in the episode, to the point where his rather terrifying cardiac episode was almost to be expected.
- Inherent in the System: Poor Zen is despised not because he's some fire-breathing paladin of justice, but because he actually does his job.
- Ironic Echo: "RatKing" has two of them: "I'm just a middle-aged journeyman detective" and "Sad, but there it is."
- Knight in Sour Armour: Zen in the first episode. He gets better.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Specifically on his new boss' table.
- Morton's Fork: In one episode, Zen has to deal with the case of a possibly Wrongfully Accused man which has become high profile because of the guy's Heel Faith Turn while in prison. Citing political expediency, both Angelo and the Minister order Zen to find evidence that will show a clear verdict and appear just and above board. Both men also say that if Zen fails, his career will be totally ruined. Problem is, one man orders Zen to prove the prisoner's guilt and the other man demands that Zen prove his innocence. Zen more or less Takes A Third Option.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Tito Spadola has a prepared spiel for each of his targets.
- Nepotism: One of Zen's co-workers, Fabri, has his job because of a wealthy and powerful relative, and is a smug, lazy jerkass.
- Never Suicide: second episode
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Most of the cast.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Chief Hueber
- The Queen's Latin: Modern Italian, but still...
- Real After All: The second episode has a resolution which suggests that the CABAL is just something fictional believed in by conspiracy theorists, and that it was ultimate a Red Herring in the case. The last scene then shows that it exists, and The Minister is a high ranking member of it.
- Scenery Porn: Italy is sure a beautiful country, and series makes sure you know it.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Zen's MO, though he's savvy enough to keep his scruples a secret.
- Secret Relationship: Tania and Aurelio are quite successful at keeping their relationship secret, but it took Angelo just two seconds to see through it when he saw them both.
- Sexy Secretary: Tania
- Side Bet: Since the day Tania came to the office, people started making bets on who's gonna end up with her.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids: Seemingly everyone who meets Zen is obliged to remark, "You have a reputation for... gweh heh heh! --integrity."
- Translation Convention: Mostly follows the Wallander format - characters speak in English, but newspapers, computer screens and other written words are in Italian.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Chief Hueber.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Silvio Meletti
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: It's Venetian.