Let’s face it, The UK might be killing America music wise but their television leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not their fault. America, as a rich country of 300 million people has the dollars to spend to create tantalizing drama like Lost or Mad Men. The UK on the other hand does not, and that’s why their drama is more character driven and dare I say lackluster. I tried to get through Torchwood and gave up after 30 minutes.
Luther, however, intrigued me from the start. First off, it stars Idiris Elba. Yes, it’s Stringer Bell from The Wire speaking in his native English tongue. Naturally, the first thing people said when I perused Internet message boards about the series was to compare his BBC series to the stellar one from HBO.
However, that’s too easy. The only thing that’s similar with both series is that you must stay till the end to realize each show’s brilliance. Until then, Luther plays out more like Showtime’s Dexter as DCI Luther tracks down London’s sometimes implausible serial killers. Luther himself is a miserable sap, back off of
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The sheer strength of this show is Luther’s relationship with Alice (played brilliantly by Ruth Wilson). The first episode reveals that she’s killed her parents. Everyone knows that she’s killed her parents. Everyone knows she’s a sociopath. Even with that, Luther knows that he can’t find reason to convict her. It’s this reasoning that leads the two to become friends. It’s this platonic kinship between good and evil that makes the show and it’s done brilliantly–better than any American drama could.
But unfortunately, this show focuses more on these serial killers than that relationship. Some stories are almost laughable, some like Owen Lynch are played so well that you are scared to death. Even though most of the killers are brilliantly acted, there are the plot holes that are big enough to drive a Mack truck (excuse me, lorry) through. On top of that, is Luther’s strained and pitiful relationship with his ex-wife and the typical “who would she choose” storyline.
But just like Season 2 of The Wire that left us scratching our heads, Luther’s interactions with his wife set up the rather intriguing and complex storyline toward the end. What his actions toward his wife show is that he’s a complex and multi-dimensional man. He recognizes evil yet dips his feet in the same pool when needed. It’s a brilliance that plays out toward the end unlike any show on television.
Is Luther worth watching? Yes. Thankfully the producers (as most in the UK) only created 6 episodes, so it can be knocked out in 1 day. Yes, it gets draining at times, but Luther ends up being a very intriguing psychological thriller, and a much needed take on the ages old cop show.