Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amazing British Television – TV Spotlight – February 2011

TV Series: Luther (BBC One)
Creator(s): Neil Cross
Plot Summary: John Luther is a brilliant yet unhinged, destructive Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) who specializes in catching exotic and strange murderers by getting inside their minds. The series opens with Luther returning from suspension (and nervous breakdown) rejoining his special murder unit, but all is not right when he finds that his wife has moved on and that he may not be completely mentally stable.
Why You Need to See It: The series is one of the best mystery/detective shows of all-time. The cast is absolutely brilliant, highlighted by staggeringly great performances by Idris Elba and Steven Mackintosh and a star making turn from Ruth Wilson, who commands the screen and the viewer’s attention whenever she is in a scene. The dynamic that develops between Alice (Wilson) and Luther (Elba) is fantastic (I do not want to spoil anything, just watch it). The writing is also excellent. The series builds over its six episodes, tightening the tension and expectation until the viewer can barely breathe. It is quite exceptional. If you like detective series, you need to see this one. BBC One has commissioned a second series for 2011 consisting of two two-hour episodes (so like four regular episodes). Check out the trailer.
Available On: DVD and to Rent

TV Series: Sherlock (BBC One)
Creator(s): Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
Plot Summary: The series is a modern-day update of the Sherlock Holmes stories, featuring many of the notable characters. The show begins with Sherlock Holmes, an unofficial consultant to the police, assisting in the investigation of a series of suicides by poisonous pill. Meanwhile, Holmes meets John Watson and the two become friends – Watson dragged into helping Holmes solve the case and try to find out who is really behind it all.
Why You Need to See It: The modern take on the stories breathes new life into the characters. It is really funny, but also action packed making for a great detective/mystery series. Each of the three ninety minute episodes is excellent, creating a world that while set in modern London is completely loyal to the source material in tone and charisma. Cumberbatch and Freemen have tons of chemistry and make for an amazingly good Holmes and Watson team (and friendship). The writing is also very good with wonderful stories and lots of wit (it really blows the recent film version out of the water – well it is different, and better).  This is a must see for fans of the books and characters, or if you just like a great detective TV show. BBC One has commissioned a second series (again with three ninety minute episodes) to air in late 2011. Check out the trailer.
Available On: Blu-ray, DVD and to Rent

TV Series: Red Riding Trilogy (Channel 4)
Creator(s): Tony Grisoni
Plot Summary: The series based on David Peace’s novels, is about police and government corruption in Northern England in the 70s/early 80s with the Yorkshire Ripper case serving as the backdrop (though fictionalized from the real events). The series is split into three films: 1974, 1980 and 1983.
Why You Need to See It: Aesthetically speaking, this is one of the most brilliant pieces of television ever done. Each part had its own director and crew, and thus a slightly different look and feel. But, the directors were able to maintain an overall tonal continuity to the series. Personally, I feel that 1974 is the best part, as it features an amazing performance from 2010’s breakout star Andrew Garfield, excellent directing from Julian Jarrold and exceptional cinematography from Rob Hardy (among the best I saw in 2010). Parts two and three are also very good, but part one is special. The series also has a number of great supporting performances (especially the work of Sean Harris, who is brilliant and scary, and Rebecca Hall) that supplement and push the great work from the three leads (a different one in each part). The material is very dark and intense, more so than most TV productions, but this is well worth seeing for fans of mysteries, because this is really not only a good story but also a piece of art and fine filmmaking. Check out the trailer.
Available On: Blu-ray, DVD and to Rent (1974, 1980 & 1983)


  1. Just started finished watching Luther, fantastic. Going to be watching Sherlock next. Nice post on them.

  2. Yeah, it really is a brilliant show. I am really looking forward to series 2.