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Hercules Has Seen
BBC America’s LUTHER!!

Published at: Oct. 17, 2010, 2:49 a.m. CST

I am – Hercules!!
A new six-part BBC America series from Neil Cross (“MI-5”) about a London police detective played by the great Idris Elba (“The Wire,” “The Office”), “Luther” co-stars Ruth Wilson (“The Prisoner”), Indira Varma (“Rome”), Saskia Reeves (“Me and Orson Welles”), Paul McGann (“Withnail and I,” “Alien3,” “Doctor Who,” “Queen of the Damned”) and Steven Mackintosh (“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”). It is not as good as “The Wire” and it is not as good as “Rome.” It is far better than the “Prisoner” remake. Wilson, who plays a beautiful and brazen serial killer, is as magnetic as Elba. But the script is a little to yappy and perhaps a lot too TV-silly. The whereabouts of a murder weapon tried my patience. (SPOILER: There are perhaps smarter and less risky ways of ridding yourself of a murder weapon than hiding it in a dead pet.) But I’ve only seen the first of the six episodes. I’m not convinced I want to see the second. Critics who have seen all six suggest it gets better: HitFix says:
… merits include two fantastic lead performances by Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson, but also some muddled overall storytelling that left me scratching my head by the time we got to the final act. … So long as Elba’s on the screen, I’m interested, and even more when he and Wilson are sharing it. But ultimately, “Luther” turned out to be more average than I thought at first, regardless of its country of origin.
TV Squad says:
… manages to be an excellent showcase for Idris Elba ('The Wire') and an increasingly impressive character drama that goes to some dark and absorbing places. Especially in the second half of 'Luther's' 6-episode season, 'Luther' begins to feel like a well-paced crime novel, one that's less about finding the bad guys and more concerned with exploring what motivates the darker impulses of criminals -- and cops. 'Luther' needs some time to build up a head of steam, but by the last couple of episodes, its intensity and relentless knottiness are impressive indeed.
USA Today says:
… Idris Elba, who was so chillingly convincing as an American drug dealer in The Wire, is equally good here as a troubled London detective in this terrific six-part thriller. …
The New York Times says:
… a series grippingly compelled by the most gothic threats to domestic tranquillity. … clearly Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books figure among his influences as well. The series borrows a certain view of the relationship between unlikely partners on opposite sides of a gaping moral divide. Luther is both repelled by, and sexually drawn to, a beautiful young killer, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), whose braininess extends to an expertise in physics and an acute ability to help Luther unravel the most advanced criminal minds. …
The Los Angeles Times says:
… There's nothing here that we haven't seen before — creepy sociopaths, justice perpetually threatened by over-regulation, a celebration of psycho-deductive powers — but it's rendered with such depth and complex humanity to make the old seem new again. …
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… The series offers strong, striking cop stories to accompany the intense thrills of the Luther-Alice cat-and-mouse game. But it is that back-and-forth and the sexual tension that develops between the pair that makes "Luther" stand apart. Ms. Wilson is striking. With her red hair, arched eyebrows and pencil-thin lips, she plays Alice as a playful, possibly mad sociopath. She's an absolute delight …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
A police procedural with a black British detective in the lead will seem exotic to many American viewers, but what's most striking about the Idris Elba starrer "Luther" is that it's -- finally! -- a cop show devoted fully to the investigation and to the characters doing the investigating. It's not just all about the lab work. …
Variety says:
For members of the Idris Elba fan club, "Luther" will qualify as must-see TV, but there's more to recommend this psychologically twisted BBC copshow than just the former "The Wire" star. … Despite sagging a bit in the midsection, "Luther" is well worth the investment. …
10 p.m. Sunday. BBC America.
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Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:38 a.m. CST

    Elba

    by SolidStateSociety

    This was good!

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:51 a.m. CST

    by Turtle_Z

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 3 a.m. CST

    Was hoping this was BBC's version

    by ciroslive

    of the Superman mythos, with "Luther" as the good guy with Kal-el as the vigilante style villain. But this sounds good as well.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 3:11 a.m. CST

    It's great!

    by windomearle39

    I thought the series, on the whole, was excellent. It does get a little dark and disturbing in places but is well worth sticking with. Hope we get a second series!

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Luke Cage!

    by KGB3317

    That's all I think about now when I hear Idris's name, he'd be perfect. Well, that & one of the greatest TV shows ever....The Wire! Him as a cop sounds cool though.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 3:24 a.m. CST

    KGB33

    by Hercules

    good call

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 4:17 a.m. CST

    great show

    by iamahelicopter

    the chemistry between wilson and elba definitly plays the starling/lecter card plus the story actually progress with each episode as opposed to pilot epi then 21 filler eps.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 4:45 a.m. CST

    by DylanAveryIsScum

    Herc, why should anyone care what you think when you insist upon saying "BBC America's" almost as if Luther is an American production? A bit tv silly? This from someone who likes Survivor.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Mixed emotions

    by GuiltyFeat

    I watched these when they were broadcast in the UK. Elba is a huge presence in them - metaphorically and literally (he seems to tower over every other actor). The scripts are all a bit clunky and seem to be aiming for some kind of Shakespearean tragedy. I don't know if Elba has ever played Othello, but this series is a fantastic audition. He's raw, intelligent and flawed. I don't think this was good enough to warrant a second season, but Elba can definitely carry a show.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 4:59 a.m. CST

    Watch the last two episodes

    by supertoyslast

    It changes up to a whole new level compared to the previous self-contained(ish) episodes. I believe the BBC are making two feature-length specials as a follow-up.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 5:03 a.m. CST

    What's not better than the Prisoner remake?

    by JuanSanchez

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 5:28 a.m. CST

    give it a chance

    by palewook

    better than most cop procedurals on american tv in 2010

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Ooops!

    by dingleberryjerry

    Thought this was about Protestant reformer Martin Luther! Who wouldn't want to see a TV series about THAT?

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 5:55 a.m. CST

    seen it and loved it

    by monster man

    this was my favourite show so far this year hear in the u.k., trust me stick with it as the last 3 episodes go completley mental and idris acts his socks off

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 6:04 a.m. CST

    She looks like a frog

    by crazyyog

    Wilson is "beautiful"?!? You have got to be kidding. She looks like she has the Innsmouth Look.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 6:45 a.m. CST

    Yeah it gets Waaaay better

    by theGoldbergV

    the first 3 or so are standard procedural stuff, still good but nothing too special. But the last 3 are really, really good. Idris Elba is awesome in everything though...except for that shitty flick with Beyonce and Ali Larter...everything else. You get my point <P><P>Also, it has the best integration of end credits, images and music in anything I've seen for quite a while

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 7:32 a.m. CST

    "The whereabouts of a murder weapon tried my patience."

    by buggerbugger

    And yet I bet you didn't guess the hiding place? I know I didn't. Perhaps you could suggest a "smarter" and "less risky" way of disposing of the weapon?

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 8:33 a.m. CST

    It DOES get much better

    by Cameron1

    Don't get me wrong, it's pure schlock all the way through with great performances and some really cool and/or twisted moments.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Been a fan of Elba's since "Ultraviolet." I'll give

    by SID 8.0

    this a shot. An american version of that miniseries would be great.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 11:36 a.m. CST

    well not everything can be THE FUTURE OF TV

    by V'Shael

    Like "The Event", eh Herc?

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Its not bad

    by Smack_Teddy

    A friend recommended it after we were discussing who our Dr Who/Black Panther roles would go to and Elba popped up...man he carries the whole fractured thing, 'fractured' meaning sometimes playing of the the nature of the character, sometimes just spluttering a bit and finding its ground creatively...Elba does stand out a bit too much from the rest of the actors & their tone or style...but its sets up a very promising direction for the next series, and the whole way through is like a mothers womb for someone who is of the nihilist persuasion.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 1:24 p.m. CST

    watched ep one back on bbc1

    by JAMF

    its rubbish. that shit with the yawn ruined the whole thing, which wasnt very good anyway. they shouldnt make any more.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 1:27 p.m. CST

    I've seen the series...

    by DuncanDisorderly

    <p>Thoroughly enjoyed it.<p> <p>As others have mentioned, the last three episodes build up the tension and characterisation considerably.<p> <p>Elba and Wilson have great chemistry and this is the Beeb's second best new drama. The obvious best new drama being Sherlock of course.<p>

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 1:40 p.m. CST

    it's just nonsense

    by prbt

    The acting is hammy, the scripts are piss-poor, the dialogue is excruciating in places... and yet it's SO daft, you can't help but watch.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:11 p.m. CST

    its great

    by stringerbell

    as my talkback name suggests im a big wire fan so i can watch any thing with elba in it even the losers,but his great in this and i thought the ending was great and leaves ya wanting more!

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:18 p.m. CST

    there only is 6 episodes

    by Jarek

    That's how long a UK series run is generally. Saw this long ago on it's first run in the UK. Thought it was very good.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:46 p.m. CST

    Oh, LuthER...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...I was interested for a second when I thought it said "LuthOR"!

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Saskia Reeves...

    by Atreides001

    also played Jessica in the 2000 Syfy "Dune" mini-series. Replaced by Alice Krige in the sequel

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 4:24 p.m. CST

    Needs Dominic West as a Cockney drug dealer...

    by thecomedian

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Do yourselves a favor and give it a miss..

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    ...Elba is always brilliant even from when he first came to my attention over 10 years ago in the brilliant Ch4 miniseries Ultraviolet. He's brilliant in this too. But the show is terrible. Poor writing, and Saskia Reeves almost sinks it alone with her ridiculous "Cor blimey guvnor, apples and pears let's do the Lambeth walk" accent and inflections. Good Lord, she's terrible in this. I do find Ruth Wilson attractive - something very sexy about her - but her character is too over the top and the whole series suffers that same problem. Too theatrical, too over the top acting that removes the seriousness they're actually trying to go for. Do yourselves a favour if you want to see Elba at his best, buy a DVD copy of the Ultraviolet series. Avoid this. It hurts the brain.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 6:07 p.m. CST

    Smallville.

    by sways

    Long time reader, first time poster. <p> Luther was good. I watched it's run last year on BBC proper. If you watch the first episode and you're not taken by it, just tune in again for episode 5 & 6. Pretty much a two part story but genuinely suspenseful storytelling. <p> SMALLVILLE. <p> I watched the first series and that was it for me. I was a fan of Superman, but this was just a Buffy rip with Clark Kent as the lead. <p> The one other episode I saw was in season two; Following on with the kid who had the Warrior Angel comic book that Lex was into. Truly, one of the greatest portrayals of Lex these been. Kudos to that man. <p> Hearing what I have around these boards; And curious as to how this final season, showing the transformation into Superman, would pan out, I've watched the first four episodes. <p> Episode 04 of this season being the show's 200th. <p> Just watched it. That was superbly told. <p> I'd go as far as saying that episode is probably one of the greatest superman stories ever told.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 6:08 p.m. CST

    'there's'.

    by sways

    not 'these'.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Elba is slowly becoming a name over here in the states

    by terry1978

    Which is a good thing, considering it's like a handful of black actors that carry one. Put him in the Black Panther mantle, Marvel. Do it.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 7:46 p.m. CST

    Luther was good.

    by monolithik

    It has its problems, as many have mentioned, mostly by being overly dramatic, but... the faults are only so mentionable because of how good the rest of it was. It takes risks that American shows just won't take, and most of them pay off. There's real potential that all of the characters may not make it out alive; paired with Elba doing his best to sell the hell out of the show(really makes me want to see him play Batman, heh), you can't help but want to see what happens next, flaws and all. Glad to see it's hitting BBC America.

  • Oct. 17, 2010, 7:48 p.m. CST

    @theGoldbergV

    by monolithik

    I agree about the credits; the editing and music choices really played a big part in this series, elevating the show as a whole to more of an event than just another cop show.

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Liked this series, especially the female Lector

    by HarryBlackPotter

    She was really sexy and twisted, but Luther needs her too much to go after her. Maybe in series 2 Luther will get her in the sack. I know I would.

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 6:39 a.m. CST

    SWAYS

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    I was the same as you with Smallville,watched a few of the first series and pretty much hated it for the same reasons you did...watched one or two episodes of the later series and it had`nt improved but as this was the last series i thought i would check it out again to see how they were going to end it,and this time loved it,its everything the earlier series could have been but wasnt...i think i can how see how the show will end now and really can see tom welling as superman which i couldnt before

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Great show, loved it, cant wait for it to come back

    by Drsambeckett1984

    next year! <P> Considering the massive cliffhanger the show ends on, all I'll say to those that havent seen it is WOW does it leave the characters in a tricky situation. <P> And for a british show it certainly has the production values of a US one, which is nice to see.

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Heyyyyyyyyyyy Mr. Luuuuuuthooooor!

    by Judge Briggs

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Luther is very by-the-numbers but its fun.

    by Fist Dirtbox

    Elba is great as always, and Ruth Wilson is at least equally good. Plausibility is not the show's strong point but it is very entertaining and well worth sticking with for the punchline at the end of the 6th ep. And yeah Ultraviolet... what a great show - years ahead of its time.

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 1:20 p.m. CST

    "Plausibility is not the show's strong point..."

    by Boxcutter

    Right on, Fist. I found this show really disappointing. Creaky scripts and some shite acting in pretty key and bit parts. Alice is a cartoon of malevolence, despite Ruth's game efforts. Elba does his best, but it's drowning in its own seriousness and poor plotting. Production values, tinted lenses and terse line readings do not a classic make. And, yes, I stuck with them all.

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 1:22 p.m. CST

    yeah, i clicked on this thinking it was about Martin Luther, too

    by MackAndJacks

    Wouldn't Russell Crowe be a great casting choice for Martin Luther? A huge hothead playing one of histories greatest hotheads?

  • Oct. 18, 2010, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Don't be fooled - IT'S SHIT!!

    by spud_mcspud_returns

    Not only are there some fucking UNBELIEVABLE plot elements to this - and the world's most convoluted serial killer in existence - but Idris Elba is boring in this. Yes, BORING. When you've seen him smash up one door or office desk in htis, you've seen them all. And boy, do they have him smash up a LOT of shit.<P> Elba's Luther has two settings in this series: simmering anger and smash-shit-up-Hulk-rage. There's not much else. This series made CRACKER look like Shakespeare. Put it this way: Idris Elba's character in THE LOSERS had more character development than LUTHER. And the ending couldn't have been more boring. Or obvious. It's SPOOKS without the brains; it's ULTRAVIOLET without the imagination or the tight script; it's basically a slickly-shot advertisement for cruising round London at night with a tiresomely predictable cop show tacked on to justify its existence. Trendy urbanite twenty-something yuppie wankers will LOVE this show. Everybody else? You'll be bored out of your minds...

  • Nov. 23, 2010, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Excellent show!

    by Screwbini

    I agree that it got better as it went allow. I saw the season finale this past Sunday and it was a tension-filled, thoroughly enjoyable way to end the first run. Idris Elba is terrific in the role. Nearly as good as his turn in The Wire. I'd like to see more of Luther in the future, especially if they manage to keep Ruth Wilson in the picture.