Sunday, May 16, 2010

New BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther

Discussing television shows isn't something I normally do on this blog. But sometimes, things come along that are very good and they deserve to be talked about.

Luther is a new dramatic series from the United Kingdom. It premiered on May 4, 2010 and airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on BBC One. The next episode of Luther airs on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

John Luther is a complex man. It's obvious he has some issues he needs to work through. A man he let fall almost to his death is still in a coma and there's the ever-present threat that if he wakes up he could give evidence that could not only bring down Luther but the entire unit. His ex-wife, that he wants back, has moved on to someone else. There is a highly intelligent and highly dangerous killer fascinated with him.

Idris Elba does an excellent job portraying the title character, moving from moments of brilliance to fits of anger and then back again in a heartbeat. Viewers should recognize Elba as "Charles Miner" in The Office (US version) or "Russel 'Stringer' Bell" from The Wire. Ruth Wilson was very impressive as Alice Morgan and it appears she is going to be a recurring thorn in Luther's side. Alice Morgan is twisted and unpredictable. That's a good thing in a show like this because as long as the writing stays tight she will be able to keep a level of tension in there that should make for some good viewing.

Luther is an intelligent drama that doesn't rely on sensationalism to carry the show. You won't find anything extraordinarily gory or see any "A-HA!" or cutesy-chats-over-the-microscope CSI moments here. And there aren't any of those Scooby Doo the-guy-who-did-it-wasn't-even-part-of-the-story-until-the-end moments, either. It's a fast-paced psychological drama that is driven by a good story and a very complex main character. You know who committed the crime early on in the story and the journey is in watching DCI Luther bring them to justice--if he can--without succumbing to his own demons that are plaguing him.

If the quality of the writing stays consistent, the acting quality stays strong and the show doesn't end up become stereotypical or bowing to sensationalism I think this will end up being a show I'm going to greatly enjoy following.

Now, about the first two episodes.

Episode 1 (May 4, 2010)
The series starts with split action. We see the police arriving at a house then see a man being pursued by another at a different location. The man, Henry Manson, slips and falls and is left holding onto a beam for dear life. His pursuer stands over him and asks him where she is. Apparently, the man has abducted a little girl and has her hidden away. He has only two choices: tell where the little girl is or fall. He tells where she is but that still doesn't save him. Before his pursuer, a policeman, will help him up he wants to make sure the little girl is still alive. Even though the policeman learns the little girl is still alive, he lets the man fall. Fast forward seven months, DCI John Luther, is cleared of any wrongdoing because of the circumstances and he is free to go back to his job if he wants it--and he does. He is given "the rules" by his boss, DSU Rose Teller, a new partner, DS Justin Ripley and a new case: the home invasion murder of Douglas and Laura Morgan. Luther and his partner check the scene and know immediately that something isn't right about it. After interviewing the Morgan's daughter, Alice, Luther is convinced she murdered her parents. The hard part will be proving it. When she goes after Luther's ex-wife, things become personal.

Episode 2 (May 11, 2010)
The second episode of Luther jumps right into the action. Uniformed police respond to what appears to be a man beneath a bridge who possibly had been shot. When they get to him, he shoots them down in cold blood then calmly walks away after replacing his radio with one of theirs. Luther and Ripley get the case and Luther pegs it as an execution. Alice Morgan is back and she continues taunting Luther. She calls him from the hospital room of Henry Madsen to tell Luther she is investigating him. A viable suspect is found in the officer shootings as another officer is shot down. The situation doesn't feel right but by time Luther realizes they are dealing with a sniper, more officers are shot down and the shooter again gets away clean. The sniper puts a video online stating why he is killing police officers and warning that officers will continue to die until his demand is met. Alice steps up the intimidation by again calling Luther and pressing him for information. Luther calls his ex-wife and warns her to leave town but her new flame, Mark, convinces her Luther is just trying to control her. In an attempt to take the sniper, they police raid his home not knowing it is rigged with a bomb. Four more officers are killed and six injured. Alice visits Zoe Luther to question her about John's motives for doing his job. John makes himself a target for the sniper in hopes he can finally stop the violence.

For more information about Luther visit the following sites:
Internet Movie Database

Here's a trailer for Luther presented by BBC One:

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