Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Luther: dark detective drama with a dimmer switch; grimly exciting; no jokes

Things are all a bit dark and forbodin' in Luther, the grimly exciting four-part police drama on BBC One.

Idris Elba plays DCI John Luther and he's all cool and a bit cockney of course, but he is also most definitely Troubled, as the best detectives are.

There's a bit of back-story bobbin' about as this second series begins, but it's not essential to really know about it.

I imagine it was something all dark and forbodin' anyway. [It was: Luther's ex-wife was murdered and he was framed for it, to summarise]

But the programme's all about the atmosphere: shadowy, night-time London; a 'haunting' soundtrack that either sounds like an upset string-like instrument or a lady holding one high note, and a stroppy young 'sex worker' that Luther's trying to help.

They form the backdrop to the main story involving a killer with a taste for murdering in front of CCTV cameras, while wearing a vintage Punch (as in Punch and Judy) mask.

He also phones his victims' contacts with the chant: "I am the sunrise," just to add a bit of colour.

It's a rich old soup, this, and it's all done with the dimmer switch down. This is most definitely a joke-free zone - they could all do with a week in Tenerife.

And of Luther's two sidekicks, his new one, DS Erin Gray, is cautious about Luther's reputation, while also appearing a bit eager to please too - most of her lines are just 'stuff that she's doing', as if to impress.

She says: "I'll source the chant, and the mask: I'll check websites and see who's buying and selling."

So basically she's on eBay.

And we get to find out her if bid's successful next week (probably).

Luther, BBC One, Tuesdays 9pm

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