Streaming our entertainment is quietly replacing the conventions of satellite and cable television, allowing the ever-working, ever-consuming public to tailor their viewing wants and needs to any taste or any schedule. While improvements like WiFi enabled TVs have allowed the living room to remain the epicenter of family viewings, the real progress is in the options now available for actually streaming the near limitless amount of shows, movies, etc.
Whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, you’re only an app or click away from your next binge-tastic day off, and onFiction is here to help fill your ever-growing watchlists with service specific reviews and recommendations starting with a personal favorite of mine: BBC America’s crime serial Luther.
Rarely in our current state of storytelling does something stand out as being truly different or innovative. Ideas are poured into a revenue driving formula that shapes stories into consumer friendly vehicles designed for advertisers’ pace-dictating commercials. So if it’s all been done before and sponsorships dictate content, how do we make good TV? Performance. Casting and characters are also key, but a well-crafted delivery of the material is what turns just another cop show into edge of your seat, can’t miss television.
That’s the case with BBC’s intense crime procedural, Luther.
Brooding, mysterious and brilliant? Done.
SHHH! I Killed my parents.
Season 1 is comprised of six installments that feel much more like chapters than episodes, each revealing the many threads that will converge at the show’s climax. On its surface, Luther is a crime procedural that marches out every detective/serial killer trope seen in recent years, channeling the likes of Dexter, Sherlock and The Following to name only a few. But an unoriginal backdrop aside, Luther’s shining light – and the reason you might watch all six episodes in a row – is its brilliantly played core group of characters led by the title portraying Idris Elba and his murderous BFF, Ruth Wilson.
Settle down, settle down. I can pilot a Jaeger.
In another’s hands, John Luther’s tragic anger management issues and Sherlock-esque genius would likely have played out just as cliche as the series’ premise, but Elba’s potent depiction of the troubled detective is the gravity holding everything else to the rapidly spinning world around him. The atmosphere to Idris’ weight is the wonderfully acted character, Alice Morgan. Alice – given life by the charismatic Ruth Wilson – is a sociopathic but brilliant woman who just happens to be delightfully good at killing people. Did I mention she’s Luther’s best – and at times only – friend? Still reading and not watching?
Each episode has its killer-of-the-week giving John and his peers a crime to solve, but it’s the over-arching plot points of Luther’s broken marriage, anger issues and propensity to break the rules serving the greater good that draw out the show’s mesmerizing performances.
What do you mean I’m not in every episode?
Though I’m no expert on British law enforcement, the one aspect most panned by the public seems to be Luther’s willingness to dismiss reality, instead veering toward the absurd and impossible. But like Elba’s enthralling portrayal turned a cop-show cliche into a gripping center piece, the show’s creators prevent the unlikely scenarios and improbable circumstances from distracting the viewers. In fact, they enhance things. In no reality I’m aware of are investigators and serial killers exchanging late-night phone calls or where cops who cross the line by killing a suspect are given the lead of an entire investigative team. So the crazy not only works, but paints a world where John and Alice grow disturbingly close, and you love every second of it. If the last two episodes don’t blow you away stop watching TV!
- Idris Elba
- Ruth Wilson
- Wonderfully Acted
- Compelling Overall Story
- Recycled Premise
Luther is a series comprised of elements you've seen before, but if recycling old ideas was a bad move there wouldn't be 37 different CSI shows. The key is in the execution and BBC killed it casting their way out of the same-old and into the simply brilliant. You'll come for the bizarre crimes and stay for the character. And doesn't it always come down to the characters for any successful show?
In Closing:Luther is a series comprised of elements you've seen before, but if recycling old ideas was a bad move there wouldn't be 37 different CSI shows. The key is in the execution and BBC killed it casting their way out of the same-old and into the simply brilliant. You'll come for the bizarre crimes and stay for the character. And doesn't it always come down to the characters for any successful show?
Binge Luther now on Netflix
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*All listed availabilities via this article’s featured streaming service are accurate based on the information provided at the time of publication.
** onFiction is not sponsored or compensated by any of the listed content providers. Recommendations are based on the availability of the reviewed programs and the services used by our reviewers.