British TV Show Reviews "Z"

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Zen (3/11)
The detective novels by Michael Dibdin have been adapted by the BBC in this series starring Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen.  Apparently he's from Venice, which is what he says whenever anyone asks about his unusual last name.  As a police detective in Rome who is separated from his wife and lives with his mother, Zen is thorough but not out of synch with the slightly dodgy nature of justice in Italy.  In the first story, a mysterious government official wants Zen to get a confessed murderer off before he embarrasses the powers that be.  But Zen's boss at police headquarters tells him he'd better find the suspect guilty as charged.  Meanwhile, Zen takes an interest in a new secretary at the station even though she's married and several of his colleagues have their eyes on her as well.  Zen's case takes him to a remote village, but unknown to him, an old case is coming back to haunt him, with possibly fatal results.  The visual style for Zen is right out of the 1970s with power zooms and extreme rack focus shots.  But Sewell cuts a good figure, he says he took the part because he wanted to do something a bit lighter, and there's a harrowing scene in an underwater cave where Zen nearly drowns.  It must have been very unpleasant to shoot, particularly wearing a full three-piece suit and soaking wet.  The production has the slight twinge of British cultural superiority hovering over the Italian countryside, with corruption seemingly inherent everywhere Zen goes.  Despite okay ratings, the BBC declined to commission a second series.

Zero To Hero (10/05)
Latest in Scrapheap Challenge type competition shows with a superhero theme.  Two ordinary folks, with the assistance of friends, a technical expert, and the resources of Channel 4, design, build, and become superheros in a single day in order to demonstrate a particular power and accomplish a task.  One week it might be wall climbing, the next walking on water.  A masked woman in red PVC as "the evil Nemesis" is on hand to throw obstacles at them, but mostly it's a race against time using thrown-together spare parts to win the day.

Written and maintained by Ryan K. Johnson (
March 27, 2011