Luther is a television series from BBC about a brilliant, but very troubled police detective. This series is written by novelist Neil Cross. Cross wanted to write an original character that was different from what we normally see. He says most crime/mystery characters fall into one of two types of characters. There is the who done it detective that is out to show how smart they are by solving the puzzle, best exemplified by Sherlock Homes. The second type is the gritty, strong characters best exemplified by Phillip Marlowe(the side of the crime drama we love here at Everything Noir). Cross made Luther a cross of the best of these two types of crime fiction and told the stories of Luther in the fashion of Columbo. So to make something totally original Cross made Luther a stew of some of the best detectives in literature, film and television.
Neil Cross’ writing is half of the successful formula for Luther. The other half is the acting of Idris Elba as Luther. Luther as a character is very complex. He is willing to bend the rules to stop the evil in his city. He has mental issues caused by the stresses of his job and the evil he has seen. He is a genius detective with a mind that thinks outside the box compared to other detectives. This genius doesn’t alienate him from others, like it does with characters like Sherlock Homes, he can use this to get information out of witnesses and suspects.
Season 1 starts out with Luther chasing a man through a factory. When he finds the man hanging by his finger tips from a cat walk. Luther lets this man fall, to what seems to be the man’s death. This also lands Luther in a mental hospital and the man that fell in a coma in the hospital.
Months later Luther is out of the hospital and back on the job, cleared of any wrong doing. We find Luther has been separated from his wife, Zoe, played by Indira Varma, during this time. Luther finds he now has a new partner, Ripley, played by Warren Brown and is sent on a new case. The case looks like a break-in where two people and a dog are shot dead. The daughter of the dead couple found them and called the police. Luther suspects the daughter Alice Morgan, played by Ruth Wilson as the murderer.
Alice Morgan is a genius as well, who has gone to college at 13. Luther knows she has committed the murders, but also knows she is to smart to ever be caught. Alice is a bit of a Hannibal Lecter character and is a friend and a foe to Luther through out season 1.
Season 1 is 6 episodes long, but has more story then most series twice or four times as long. Luther tackles a handful of cases, some come to a conclusion in one episode, some take longer or linger through out the season. Luther also has to face his personal issues with his wife and with others on the police force through out the series as well.
Luther is also filmed in a very interesting way. The show is mostly filmed in shades of grey with some small splashes of reds and other colors. The show also uses interesting locations that give it a certain feel.
Luther is some of the best television in the last five years and well worth watching. Noir fans will thoroughly enjoy this series. Look tomorrow for my look at Season 2.