A smart and polished BBC television police drama with heavy psychological storylines borrowing from the Hannibal Lecter franchise in a uniquely British way, with a female nemesis and anti-heroine played wickedly by Ruth Wilson, who almost steals the show from Idris Elba.
Elba is not only charismatic, but also convincing as the murder cop who sometimes knows he’s crossed the line and become what he hunts. Perhaps the only weak point was the original complication of a faithless wife becoming the focus of a somewhat clichéd frame-up, but even this was handled well.
There was an abortive attempt to re-make the series for the US market, and some talk about a film, but I haven’t heard any more on that score. There was also a rumour that Ruth Wilson’s character, Alice Morgan – a kind of Dr Moriarty arch enemy, but also a soulmate for Luther – was to get her own spin-off show, but nothing has, as yet, materialised.
Made in three separate installments of six, four, and four episodes. This is seriously good fun. Much better than almost any US cop show, and much underrated just because it’s British. Sometime soon the Yanks will stop fucking up shows made elsewhere by ‘re-making’ them for the US market and just enjoy what they cannot create left to their own devices.
BBC Drama Productions, 57 minutes per episode, colour.
Directed by Sam Miller, Brian Kirk, Stefan Schwartz, Farren Blackburn. Written and created by Neil Cross. Cinematography by Julian Court, Giulio Biccari, Tim Fleming, John Conroy, Stephan Pehrsson. Produced by Phillippa Giles, Idris Elba, Leila Kirkpatrick, Katie Swinden, Claire Bennett, Martin Coates. Music by Paul Englishby.
Featuring Idris Elba as DCI John Luther, Warren Brown as DS Justin Ripley, Dermot Crowley as DSU Martin Schenk, Michael Smiley as Benny Silver, Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan, Paul McGann as Mark North, Nikki Amuka-Bird as DCI Erin Gray, Steven Mackintosh as DCI Ian Reed, Saskia Reeves as DSU Rose Teller, Indira Varma as Zoe Luther.