Channel Hopper: Idris Elba's Luther is cop with obligatory quirk
- Brian Donaldson
- 5 May 2010
Dispatches from the sofa, with Brian Donaldson
Any new cop show these days must have at its heart an investigator with a quirk. They could have OCD (Monk), the ability to travel back in time (Life on Mars) or be a serial killer (Dexter) but they can’t just go around solving crimes before heading home for a cuddle on the sofa. So, what’s the deal with Luther (BBC1, Tue 4 May, 9pm)? Well, in Idris Elba’s John Luther we have the first major black British telly policeman, a brilliant maverick (of course) whose neuroses lie not in gambling or substance abuse but in his fiery passion. His anger turns out not to be an energy but a destabilising force, witnessed in episode one when he smashes a door apart with his massive bare hands after being dumped by his long-suffering missus (Indira Varma).
Luther has other problems to address having just returned to the force after allowing a filthy serial killer to fall fifty feet into a coma, and straight into the puzzling case of a murdered middle-aged couple and their dog. Except Luther nails the key suspect within minutes, the callous yet super-intelligent daughter (Ruth Wilson) who garbles lines such as ‘that’s just faulty logic postulated on imperfect data collection’. Can’t imagine Gene Hunt standing for that kind of talk without handing out a slap. As The Wire’s Stringer Bell, Elba helped reinvigorate the ‘TV villain’. He’s the only thing worth watching in his implausible hokum.