Red Right Hand: LUTHER
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

LUTHER

I miss The Box.

You know the one (or rather you damn well should). The one on Homicide: Life on the Street in which Detective Frank Pembleton routinely bitchslapped criminal minds until they cracked like a china plate beneath a quickly descending ball peen hammer.

John Luther is not Frank. He's so much more broken and disturbed, but he's got the goods in The Box.



Luther is a new procedural with a strong character component that's currently airing* on BBC One. As I first gave it a whirl, I was kinda of looking for what will make this different from the average cop show. I was looking for the opportunities the writer (Neil Cross from Spooks) had to subvert my expectations and then began to expect those subversions, yet there will able to do something a little different. In the teaser, he lets a perp hang by his fingertips over a big hole while he waits on the phone to find out if his kidnap victim is still alive. You expect him to step on the guys fingers or something when she's not, but she is. So, does he pull him up to send him to the pokey. No. Nor does he step on the fingers. He just watches him fail to hang on.

Following an investigation and some "sick" time, Luther comes back to the job and his first case is a challenge. Meanwhile, his marriage has fallen apart and he's not handling it all well. Or even reasonably at at times. Well his wife (Indira Varma is running around with the Eight Doctor).

However, a good hero needs a great villain, and he gets one in this first episode as he faces off against a young woman (Ruth Wilson is delightfully creepy as Alice), a former scientific prodigy, not that much older now, but old enough that she plies both her massive IQ and her sexuality against John as they mentally dance around the fact that they both know she killed her parents, but she may be too smart for him to actually prove it.

And the end is, actually, a bit surprising. Way to subvert.

I rather like it. It's a solid, serious drama that covers all the bases. And what's it's connection to Homicide? Well, The Wire is a spiritual sequel to H:LOTS. Created by David Simon, who wrote the book on which H:LOTS is based and cut his teleplay teeth there as well. One of it's stars was Idris Elba, who plays...yes, John Luther.

*My fellow Americans, I won't tell you how to watch this, but you can probably figure it out. Or you can wait. BBC America would be foolish not to give this a run.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan