The Problem With Luther

Series 5 of Luther aired over first four days of 2019. Being still wrapped up in the silly season I had to catch it on that social eating monster, catch up TV (the demigod that denies me leaving my house in daylight hours.)

I’ve been an avid supporter of Luther since the broad shoulders of Idris Elba framed under that iconic slate tweed jacket first came stalking onto our screens all those years ago (2010) ((nine years!!))

However series 5 has caused me a conundrum of sorts. A conundrum that was today resolved by one of my colleagues on VH, Mr Tom Beasley, writing a very eloquent appraisal of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. (Tom I thank you for your inspiration and hope your lawyers find it notoriously hard to locate me when you sue for plagiarism).

On with the show!

The problem with Luther series 5 is I’m seeing through a lot of…stuff on the show. A lot of things I find glaringly obvious. A lot of things that, to the burning frustrations of the production team, I can’t put my finger on. It’s as if these days Luther’s a little distressed, a little worried, a little short of confidence with all the competition about. And he’s trying that bit harder, that bit too hard, to gain my attention.

As Lutherians know, Luther is a grizzly, conflicted, peculiar type of Met detective who stalks London (and is stalked in London) for the most twisted serial killers out there. Luther’s cases are psychological tinder houses of both primitive and complex desires, fears and emotions which Luther and his colleagues often have to go on-point to explain to the viewer throughout the show. I get this, and I have no problem with it (Luther’s scripts are probably padded out by a team of Oxbridge professors of psychology who understand what I’m feeling way more than I ever will).

What I do have a problem with is, as I previously stated… things. Things like Luther’s car; a classic Volvo 740 made to look so old it looks new. Some of the language in the show, ‘this tinker’ (if this term offends I apologise, I don’t actually know what it means…), ‘going disco’, ‘you don’t have a scooby’. It all sounds a bit, school playground to me. Then there’s the gun, THE gun, the gun that almost set me off. A revolver. A revolver! In a urban crime drama set in the gritty corridors of London. A revolver!? Please…

But, considering all the things I have problems with, I’ve come to a conclusion. I remain an ardent Lutherian. The show still keeps true to its roots, even if Idris is now the biggest star in the universe. And this 5th series is gripping, wanting to see the downfall of a particularly nasty baddy in surgeon Jeremy Lake, played brilliantly by the even more brilliantly named Enzo Cilenti.

In all the gloom that a good Luther story entails, it’s made me see the light. The sheer avalanche of quality drama coming out the box these days (Netflix, Amazon, BBC, C4 et al) is staggering. Too much for one reviewer to review! And Luther is yet another star in the fabulous multiverse of TV.

Catch all episodes of Luther season 5 (and seasons 1 to 4) on BBC iPlayer now.

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