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.
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.
Bittersweet Ending: Zen finds the villains behind the murder of Miletti's lawyer, gets promoted to interim chief and ousts Hueber, plus he's got a lead on who kidnapped Miletti. But three people are dead, his relationship with Tania is in shambles, he's lost the trust of Amedeo and the Minister, and both his and Moscati's careers are in serious jeopardy.
Blackmail: At least once an episode, Zen will blackmail The Minister in return for keeping quiet about the things he knows. It goes too far in the last episode.
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).
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.
Defective Detective: Averted. Zen's a relatively normal person and competent detective. His weirdest quirk is that he lives with his mother and is going through a divorce. And that he gets called out for his name. It's Venetian.
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). Zen, however, and unlike most of his colleagues (it's implied), only accepts favors, and never takes cash.
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.
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 Moscati 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.
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.