English television at its best. Idris Elba as the leading man. Ruth Wilson as the delectable psycho killer bitch Alice Morgan. What more would you need to recommend this piece of television history?
Nothing really, but for me it’s all about the sub-text.
You can never be sure that others see what you see. You can’t even be sure that what you see is what the creators intended. But it’s all there regardless. Once it’s released, the mise-en-scène and dialogue don’t undo and recreate themselves in some alternate fashion.
What I see is that Luther and Alice are the same person. Split personality. Two halves of a whole. Yin and Yang. Call it what you will.
This is an entry about the British TV series, not the 2006 film or the 2008 Japanese anime series.
Although stylish and moody in a way the British are not known for, the plot as somewhat aimless and lacking punch, even when revealing the plans of vampires to cause a nuclear winter to reduce the human population.
Still, I enjoy watching Idris Elba, and Phillip Quast was quietly convincing as the conflicted priest-cum-vampire killer.
Susannah Harker, on the other hand, just struck me as that kind of sulky, precious British bitch I knew so well when I was chasing them.
Channel 4, 300 minutes, colour.
Episode 1: Habeas Corpus
Episode 2: In Nomine Patris
Episode 3: Sub Judice
Episode 4: Mea Culpa
Episode 5: Terra Incognita
Episode 6: Persona Non Grata
Written and directed by Joe Ahearne. Cinematography by Peter Greenhalgh. Produced by Sophie Balhetchet, Bill Shapter. Music by Sue Hewitt.
Featuring Jack Davenport as Detective Sergeant Michael Colefield, Susannah Harker as Dr Angela March, Idris Elba as Vaughan Rice, Philip Quast as Father Pearse Harman, Colette Brown as Kirsty, Fiona Dolman as Frances, Thomas Lockyer as Jacob, Corin Redgrave as Dr Paul Hoyle, Stephen Moyer as Jack
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.