Classic TV Review: Luther Season 1 (2010)

Posted: July 17, 2016 in Action, Drama, TV
Tags: ,


Episode 1:

Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) returns to the police force after seven months on administrative leave.  He returns home to find his wife Zoe (Indira Varma) doesn’t exactly welcome him back with open arms.  Luther’s latest case involves a woman named Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) who comes home to find her parents murdered.  Alice has an alibi, but Luther can’t find any other suspects either.  Can he prove Alice did it?  Or did someone else murder Alice’s parents and try to frame Alice?

This show is what all cop shows should be.  From the first moment, the show crackles with excitement and tension.  The writing is excellent, the characters are compelling, and the acting is superb.  Idris Elba commands the screen like a colossus , but Indira Varma and Ruth Wilson hold their own.  The pacing is fast, quick edits make it seem faster.  This is a great show.

Episode 2:

A member of the Royal Marines, Owen Lynch (Sam Spruell) goes on a killing spree, and he’s targeting cops.  John Luther finds out who Lynch is, but can’t pinpoint his location, and so Lynch inflicts more carnage on police.  By this time the anti-terrorism unit has taken over the case, but Luther is determined to find him.  As if that isn’t bad enough, Alice Morgan is back to torment Luther, and Zoe. Does Luther track down Lynch?

The similarities between this episode, and what happened in Texas this week is downright chilling.  I had goosebumps the whole time I was watching this episode.  One of the differences is that the Lynch character is still alive to murder more people.  This is a riveting tv show, I can’t take my eyes off it.  I like that Alice Morgan is a recurring character, and she seems to be psychoanalyzing Luther, how ironic.  This is another episode that features great acting by Elba, Ruth Wilson, and Indira Varma.  The dynamic between Varma and Elba is also interesting.  The pacing is lightning quick.  Luther is always responding to one emergency after another, it’s a high adrenaline show, that’s what makes it fun to watch.

Episode 3:

A woman, Kirsten Ross (Catherine Hamilton) has been kidnapped, and there is a message scrawled in blood on her walls.  Luther suspects a Satanist named Lucien Burgess. (Paul Rhys)  The police had Burgess under surveillance years before, when another woman was kidnapped, but police bungled the investigation.  Is Luther right about Burgess or is this a copycat crime? To complicate matters, Alice hires a gang of girls to beat up Zoe’s boyfriend, Mark North (Paul McGann) and pins it on Luther.

My only criticism of this show so far, and it’s a small one, is that Luther deduces the whodunit a little too quickly for my liking. But then there’s the characters, the criminals, one more twisted than the next, the ethical questions about how Luther solves each case, and his relationship with Zoe, which is complicated, but his relationship with Alice Morgan is even more complicated.  Luther is not exactly a straight arrow, but he’s always trying to do the right thing.  I enjoy flawed characters, because we’re all flawed, and flaws make fictional characters more true-to life.  All these things, flawed characters, complex interrelationships and taut plotlines, make this drama impossible to resist.

Episode 4:

Luther’s investigating a serial killer, and he boils it down to a cab driver, but does he have the right man?  Henry Madsen wakes up from his coma, and so Luther ends his “relationship” with Alice Morgan, how does Alice react? Mark North finds something out about Zoe.  How does he react?

This is another great episode, they really get into the muck of this killer’s pathology, and it’s quite complicated.  It takes Luther some time to figure this one out, it was nice seeing him struggle with this one for a while.  Alice Morgan shows her pathology again, lest the viewer think she’s the girl next door.  The ending is quite appropriate.

Episode 5:

James Carrodus  (Thomas Lockyear) is a world renowned art dealer, but he’s sold some art forgeries  to some Russians, and now they want their payment back in the form of 18 diamonds,  in two hours, or they will kill James’ wife Jessica.  Zoe gives Luther an ultimatum.  How does Luther react?

This is probably the best episode of all the episodes.  Not only is there one plot twist, there are two.  The robbery and kidnapping ae exciting enough, but when the two twists kick in, it just kicks this episode into the stratosphere.  Great acting, by everyone involved, except for the Scotsman playing an American with a bad accent.  Breathtaking pacing, and a heartbreaking ending.

Episode 6:

John Luther is the prime suspect in a murder.  Luther is now on the run and trying to prove someone else committed the murder.  He uses every tactic in the book to draw the person he suspects near him.  He uses his partner Justin Ripley, (Warren Brown) Mark North, and Alice Morgan to try prove his innocence.  Is he innocent?  Does Luther get his showdown with the person he suspects?

This is the perfect ending to a perfect series.  All the regulars play their parts so well, and Idris Elba tops it with a bravura performance throughout.  Not only does it resolve the cliffhanger for season 1, it sets up a cliffhanger for next season, great writing, breakneck pacing, exciting throughout.


A week ago I did not know what Luther was, but then while channel surfing, I saw the first episode on a local PBS station, and I was hooked.  I guarantee you, if you watch the first episode, you will be too.  Every episode has great writing, great acting and direction that pulsates with action.  Also, I like that BBC shows are not that long.  This show was six episodes long, and I watched it in a week. It’s easy to binge watch a season in a week or a day or two.  American tv series take a much larger commitment of time. Watch Luther if you haven’t already, it’s a five year old series, so I’m late to the party, but it’s on Netflix, so you can watch it at your leisure.

Luther:  A copper that’s pure gold!


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