I don’t usually get too excited about crime stories, particularly if I’ve read the books. (Yes, I know the old camel story, and the pedantic view that printed word and TV adaptation are entirely different experiences, to be judged separately, but in the real world, people do rate one against the other.) So when the BBC series based on Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen came along, I was able to watch it free of preconceptions, having barely heard of him, let alone read any of the books. There were three in all, and for me they worked. I’m looking forward to  the next adventures of the laid-back Venetian ‘tec, who always comes up smelling of roses. The Roman background helped, but still; if Skinner or Primavera were ever pursued by television, that’s the crew I’d want to work with.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Alistair Beaton
    January 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I liked the Zen TV productions enough to want to read the books, which I also enjoyed, but have to say that any resemblance between the storyline and the names of the characters in the books and the TV is purely accidental. My main complaint about the TV versions was the common one nowadays of bad sound and bad diction. I still don’t know what Zen’s final crack at the departing Chief Heuber was. I replayed it three times and then a fourth time using my headphones – no luck. The book is no help as the Heuber character doesn’t appear in the book, even under a different name. I agree with you that the production team are good, but I bet you wouldn’t want them translating your novels – at least not as long as you’re still alive! Read the books. If you’ve time to read only one, read the last one “Ratking”. It really takes the biscuit. Even the murderer of the kidnap victim is different.

    • January 19, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      Zen says to Huber, ‘By the way, we shagged on your desk.’ I agree that there were times when the diction was a little mumbly, but it wasn’t a problem to me. Suggestion: try running subtitles if it’s really bad. The only Dibdin I’ve read was a Kindle sampler of Medusa. I didn’t buy the book. I’d be very choosy about anyone adapting my books for telly.

  2. Alistair Beaton
    January 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the subtitles tip. I replayed my recording of Ratking with the subtitles switched on and you are spot on. I am impressed, although I had expected that the parting quip would be much more telling. Having said that I found the TV ending had much more impact than the book. It went out with a bang whereas the book’s ending is anticlimatic.

  3. Alistair Beaton
    February 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    You said you were impressed by the production of the Zen series on BBC. Andy Harries, the executive producer of Zen, has written a blog with some interesting comments on the making of the series and choice of the lead players.


    I stumbled upon this today while Googling for a chronological listing of Zen novels. I was surprised to learn how many there are and somewhat daunted as I fear I will feel compelled to read them.

  4. quintin jardine
    February 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks for that. Don’t have time to get too deeply into Zen. Still struggling with Bush and Blair

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