Stop me if you’ve heard this before. There’s this detective. He’s a bit of a loose cannon. Plays fast and loose with the rules. Senior officers don’t like him, but he’s good. He has insight and he solves cases.
That’s pretty much Luther in a nutshell. And when you boil it down to those basics, it’s hardly original. But it all comes down to the execution.
If I was to pick a show to compare this to it would probably be Cracker. There are a lot of similarities between the shows. We see the central protagonist disintegrate, unable to separate himself from the horrible activities that his work surrounds him with.
His insight, the thing that makes Luther good at his job is also what blurs the lines for him and leads him into dangerous territory.
There’s also a lot of focus here on the why. These aren’t straightforward or petty murders. These are people who are are twisted in some way and we get to watch Luther connect with them, figure out how they think and what they will do.
The character of Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson) appeals so much to Luther because she is not burdened by the guilt and the morals that plague him. She tempts him because it would be so much easier to be like her.
And yet oddly while she starts of toying with him, she somehow connects with him in her sociopathic way creating this bizzare co-dependency.
Of course it is Idris Elba’s portrayal of Luther that binds the whole show together. The supporting cast are uniformly great (particularly Paul McGann and Dermot Crowley) but Luther captures the audiences eye and holds it. He plays the character pitch perfect, and you really feel like this is a man who could tip over the edge at any moment.
I had expected before watching this show that I would have something to say about the fact that we have a show like this anchored so heavily around a black actor.
Turns out I don’t.
Because it’s a complete non-factor. It’s not addressed in the show, it’s not something you think of while you watch it. Luther isn’t a black character. Luther is Luther. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Amazon.com: Luther – Season 1 http://amzn.to/15VZVjF