Saturday, October 15, 2011

Luther Season 1 Review

What television needs is something different, not inherently new, just different enough to make you think and watch. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has a reputation of great shows; none of which I’ve admittedly watched. That doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to. And the drama, Luther, was where I started. All six episodes are excellent -- it’s a short season, but the creative script, imaginative scenarios, and great acting from one Idris Elba are the glue that holds the show together.

Luther isn’t original. It’s a crime drama. There’re plenty of those. It’s the sole that’s missing from most procedural detective shows that loses me. It’s not a matter of believability or realism, because Luther may not have any of that. The only think and the one thing that really separates Luther is the person John Luther himself.

Idris Elba plays Luther as slightly touched but still sane policeman. One that tries so hard to do the right thing, even if that means he has to go about it wrong at first. He’s not quite an ani-hero, and he definitely isn’t a dirty cop. Luther is more like a gray cop, he falls in between the moral line of ethics and only tests the waters of either side, never taking the full plunge.

John Luther’s swagger is undeniable. How he carries himself and how he contemplates a crime scene -- It’s not human. Through that dedication and the mistakes of his past he’s lost touch with the only person he cares for, his wife Zoe. The first season is split between Luther trying to capture serial killers and trying to rebuild his marriage. He can’t deal with his wife not loving him and he has this mental block that won’t let him think strait.

Throughout the series you see the brilliant detective who lives for his job. And the emotional man who can’t break away and love again. It’s sad, really. And Luther is forced into more than a few situations where his temper and judgment get the best of him. And no, he doesn’t always pull through in the end. Even in the first episode he fails to crack the case…legally.

The entire season throttles the psyche, by not making everything appear how it seems: particularly Luther’s relationship with a murderer and their tenuous and unlikely partnership. I never knew what was around the next corner. Think. That’s all a program needs to do really. 

Luther and Alice's relationship is strange and fascinating. 

I do have a few minor gripes. Luther is almost too smart. You rarely get to solve the crime with him; he keeps a lot of his plans bottled up in his own swirling mind. It does lend a certain quality to Luther one that makes him almost out to be super-human – it would have been nice though to see him piece together the evidence so the audience wasn’t always in the dark. Which frequently happens.

I’ll be taking a look at the second season shortly. Luther is a very tightly spun show, it’s not drastically fresh, but it hits the right emotional notes. While the final episode is too implausible it doesn’t taint what came before. I knew I was going to like Luther, and I considered it the test subject for whether or not I’d watch more BBC programming. Idris Elba’s performance alone is reason to watch, but I don’t want to take away from the stylish pacing of the story as a whole. I may not watch much TV, but I’m hopelessly in the corner of John Luther…I just hope he doesn’t through me through a window.

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