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'Zen' series premieires as part of 'Masterpiece Mystery!' July 17 on AETN

“Zen,” starring Rufus Sewell, will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Sunday, July 17, at 9 p.m. as part of “Masterpiece Mystery!” and air in three parts June 17, 24 and 31 at 9 each night.
Rufus Sewell stars as Zen, a Roman police detective hailing from Venice, where “Zen” is a local shortening of the name Zeno. Separated from his wife and living with his mother (Catherine Spaak), he is too frazzled by his job to think about romance.
That is, until he meets Tania Moretti, his chief’s new secretary played by Italian actress Caterina Murino (“Casino Royale,” “XIII”). Moretti herself has been having spouse trouble and sees Zen as a remarkable exception to the predatory Romeos around the police station.
They are joined by an international cast including Ed Stoppard (“Upstairs Downstairs”), Ben Miles (“The Forsyte Saga”), Stanley Townsend (“Sherlock”), and Francesco Quinn (“Platoon”), with guest stars Greg Wise (“Return to Cranford”) and Allan Corduner (“Lennon Naked”). Opening with a brutal double murder to the strains of Mozart’s haunting duet “Che soave zeffiretto,” the series unfolds as follows:
• “Vendetta” – Sunday, June 17, at 9 p.m.
A killer is on a vendetta-fuelled rampage against those who wrongly imprisoned him, including a cop who had almost nothing to do with it: Zen. But, Zen is too busy dealing with another crime — a politically-charged murder — to notice that he’s on a psychopath’s hit list. Ordered by his boss to nail the chief suspect in the murder case whether he is guilty or not and by a justice official to get the off, Zen is in a no-win situation — although he has won the heart of his officemate Tania Moretti. With so many distractions, can Zen solve the murder while keeping his job and staying alive?
• “Cabal” – Sunday, July 24, at 9 p.m.
A disgraced aristocrat jumps off a bridge. Or is he pushed? As usual Zen gets mixed signals from his scheming bosses: the Ministry of Justice wants a ruling of suicide, while a powerful and beautiful female prosecutor hints that Zen had better start looking for the murderer. The plot thickens when it appears that the victim was trying to inform on a previously unknown group called the Cabal, with conspirators at the highest levels of Italian society. Meanwhile, Zen and Tania are having trouble closing the book on their failed marriages, plus Zen is being pressured into an affair by the prosecutor.
• “Ratking” – Sunday, July 31, at 9 p.m.
When a wealthy industrialist and political party funder is kidnapped, the Ministry of Justice wants Zen to get the hostage back alive at any cost. But, these kidnappers don’t seem to be playing by the rules, since they kill the lawyer who shows up with a ransom payment from the family. In kidnapping-plagued Italy, it’s illegal to pay a ransom, and Zen must skirt the issue while dealing with the bickering relatives, who seem ready to forget about their captive kinsman. Even worse, Zen has a tyrannical new boss who is a stickler for regulations, including the ones about workplace romances, jeopardizing the detective’s burgeoning affair with Tania.
Hosted by Alan Cumming, “Zen” is based on the Aurelio Zen mysteries by Michael Dibdin.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit www.aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at www.aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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