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That fine line between madness and genius...,
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This review is from: Luther - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Note: The BBC has just commissioned two two-hour long specials as a continuation of this first series, to be aired in 2011. Happy days.
'Luther' was originally created as an answer to the solve-everything-without-fail genius detectives in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, whilst at the same time trying to portray a character so wound up in his profession that his own personal life and personality begin to fracture, a la Cracker.
In this sense, the show succeeds, and does so very well. John Luther is a man who is constantly redefining the boundaries between insanity and intelligence - whilst, more often than not, he deduces who the villain is, he often does so at the expense of his own mental equilibrium. He knows that sometimes the law fails the innocent; he knows that sometimes the criminals get away with all; and he also knows that his colleagues appreciate his presence on the team, but that they watch him with a wary eye and keep their distance. Essentially, Luther is a philosopher at heart, but he can see his world falling to pieces and is helpless to stop it. It would be easy to call Luther, brilliantly played by Elba, a 'tortured soul', but there's much more to it than that analogy suggests.
I won't say too much about the series itself, so as to avoid spoiling anything, but just know that the acting is spot-on all round (with some great turns from Ruth Wilson as 'Alice', and Steven Mackintosh as 'Ian Reed') , the stories are gripping (with quite a stunning finale), and it is very evident that a lot of effort and care went into the production of the show.
This brilliant, dark and intelligent six-part crime drama is a glimpse at how fine a line there is between madness and genius, and how a man is supposed to maintain a handle on reality when continually placed under such disturbing and often brutal circumstances. Touching on existential themes, such as the things beyond our control and how we just have to accept them, 'Luther' is proof enough that the quality of the BBC's programming is on the up. Let's just hope it carries on.