Home > TV Reviews > PREVIEW: BBC America’s LUTHER – and Idris Elba – engrosses and captivates

PREVIEW: BBC America’s LUTHER – and Idris Elba – engrosses and captivates

by Jim on October 16, 2010 · 1 comment

Idris Elba stars as the troubled, but brilliant, murder detective LUTHER

@BBCAmerica  I have been hearing good things about the BBC psychological crime drama Luther since it premiered earlier this year in the UK so was more than excited that it is coming to BBC America this weekend. I was excited first and foremost in the beginning due to being a fan of Brit actor Idris Elba for many years after seeing him in HBO’s The Wire and then seeing a lighter side of his talents in an arc on the US version of The Office as well as currently bedding Laura Linney on Showtime’s newest hit The Big C. And while I was interested to see Elba play a murder detective with more than a few personal issues to work through (such as coming off a suspension at work and then dealing with an estranged ex-wife, played by Rome‘s Indira Varma), I couldn’t help but wonder if the world truly needs another crime drama in an already cluttered market?  In the case of Luther, the answer is yes!

As you’ll see from the first intense moments of the series, Elba plays the silently (and often not-so-silently) tortured John Luther with perfection and conveys his self-destructive tendencies like the rumpled trench coat he’s often seen wearing. Beside finding out his wife is moving on in her life without him, Luther is also dealing with some big guilt over a past case (the details of which open the premiere episode) and, on top of all that, he butts heads with a crime witness who turns out to be more of the face of the dark humanity that he can’t seem to escape in his work and his life. Don’t worry, though, that revelation about the witness-turned-suspect is not a spoiler. One of the plus sides of the premiere episode is we know who the killer is early on so the focus is on how Luther is going to try to bring her down. Does he succeed? Well, THAT would be a spoiler!

Luther works hard to figure out how to bring down the murderess Alice (Ruth Wilson)

Elba has never been better and lives up to the promise that viewers first saw him display in that acting showcase known as The Wire.  When Luther is not unexpectedly showing up at his wife’s office to talk about their fractured relationship, he’s in a duel of the psyche with beautiful psychopath Alice Morgan (played with chills galore by Ruth Wilson, showing a much darker side than she did as Jane Eyre). Their scenes as the cat and mouse game escalates are the best part of the series. In fact, you find yourself not wanting Alice to be caught in the long run because the series is more interesting and compelling with her in it.

Thankfully, unlike most American crime dramas, the bad guy isn’t always caught at the end of each episode. The performances are solid with well-written scripts and direction that keep things moving as well as effortlessly pulling you into the tension and the drama in the undercurrent of each scene of each episode.

My advice, scrap the rest of your Sunday lineup (well, maybe not Boardwalk Empire) and settle in for the 6-episodes in the first season of Luther.

Luther premieres Sunday at 10/9c on BBC America.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rita August 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I am waiting for Luther to be aired in the US. Hope it’s soon. Also, Jim, I keep hearing rumors that TNT wants to pick up All My Children and One Life To Live, but General Hospital is a problem – something to that effect. Have you heard anything about the soaps going to TNT? Thanks Jim, Rita

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