Luther: Series 1, Episode 1

Nitpick: the tagline has too many words.The episode, untitled, starts off the way most Rogue Cop movies start, and continues as most TV Procedurals do. But while of course he was going to [do what he did in the first 5 minutes], and office politics of siding with or against the bad boy is overdone, and  whodunnits that wrap up in an hour can be found around every commercial, I’m going to tell you why you should still watch Luther.


1. Idris Elba

Full stop.


2. Style

The BBC is playing a lot with their series lately. Sherlock relies more on flashy cuts, chintzy graphics, and complicated edits, while Luther is more a fan of off-kiltering the subject in the scene (placing someone extreme left in a closeup even when she is on the right for the wide shot; giving more headroom than usual and placing the eyes on the lower third line rather than the upper third, etc). Both send a clear message the BBC is out to change the way shows are stylized. Sometimes it’s too distracting, but often it’s lovely.

The clothing style is pretty fine, too. Luther’s suits are as beautiful as the man in them.


3. It’s Not Your Typical Procedural

Oh, of course, none of them are. They’ve all got a gimmick. Luther, though, partly because of its slightly-longer structure and partly because it’s just better written, is able to do more than the 3-Act; more personal drama, more following the suspects outside of the cop sphere, more exposition, and fewer answers.

Many things may be cliched, but not everything is pat. The first episode does standard First Episode things: it establishes characters, gives us essential background, and lays out past hazy mysteries (what exactly was Luther’s ‘problem’ that he straightened out? Drugs or alcohol or other?) and future story arcs (what if the bad guy comes out of his coma?). It sets itself up to be a stellar psychological drama that also happens to be a procedural. I’m looking forward to watching it.

As my current job rarely allows me to watch and review network shows on time (in the internet world, you get 0-10 hours; preferably its out half an hour after the West Coast broadcast ends, but if it’s not up before people hit work the next day, it’s old news) , I’ll be watching and reviewing Luther here and reviewing it even as the new fall TV shows roll out. If you’re interested, it’s available on Netflix, BBCAmerica, and various other places you resourceful viewers will no doubt find.

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