Okay, I’ve been stretching it a little lately, because I’m not technically posting movies. But I think you’ll be all right with it. Ladies and gents, may I present to you the very short but very good TV series called Luther, starring Idris Elba.
I’ve heard talk about them possibly doing a black James Bond and if that’s true, Idris had better be top of the list. He’s a fabulous actor and had me hooked right in the beginning. I guess he was in a couple episodes of The Office (U.S.), Thor (as Heimdall), and more recently as Janek in Prometheus.
Anyway, back to the Luther. The description from Netflix:
In this innovative police drama, dedicated detective John Luther is trying to keep from losing a grip on his personal life as he contends with the psychological factors underyling the crimes he’s been assigned to solve.
Seems like the BBC is on fire lately when it comes to TV series (do I really need to mention Doctor Who and Sherlock?). Luther is no exception—and I really hope “series 3” makes it onto Netflix very soon.
LET’S START WITH IDRIS
Idris plays John Luther, and as the description above states, he’s got issues and then some. It’s interesting how with characters, even if they’ve got tons of flaws, if they have something moral that they cling to no matter what that we find them likable all the same.
Luther is passionate about solving crimes and stopping bad guys. His passion is really what became his vice (without giving too much away) and you have to watch him deal with crossing the line as he also tries to deal with the aftermath of his choices. Yet, you’re still rooting for him to win and especially against the bad guys. Talk about your complex character. I like that he’s some parts cliche-cop and at the same time very unique. It’s something I recommend, especially for any of you writing characters that have been done to death (detectives with a vendetta, prince’s out for revenge, etc.)
SPEAKING OF VILLAINS
Something that easily hooks me in a story is a good villain. You know, the kind that you find yourself almost agreeing with, until you are reminded time and again exactly the snake you’re dealing with.
This villain goes from innocent (looking) to sinister in 6 seconds. I’ve always been fascinated by the quality of certain actors to be able to portray innocence so well and then let it dry up like it had never been there in the first place.
But I am being purposefully vague, because I really hate to spoil too much with this series. Let’s just say this particular villain, Villain 1 we’ll call them, is one of those awesome villain that gets in the protagonist’s head and messes with it—a lot. It’s the same reason I love Scorpius from Farscape so much. If you watch this series for two reasons (the first being Idris’ performance) watch it for Villain 1.
Villain 1 also turns into a sort of Hannibal Lector for Luther, advising him on how the criminal mind works, always remaining dangerously around the corner—helpful and harmful at the same time. Their on screen chemistry is so thick, especially in their first scene together. You’ll love it, guaranteed.
SIDEKICKS AND BELIEVERS
It seems like in both Writing the Breakout Novel and Story, both authors go on about having characters who believe in the protagonist and characters who want to see them fail. Luther does a good job of illustrating how that can work to a storyteller’s advantage.
You’ve got Luther’s partner Ripley, who’s not really certain about Luther’s ethics, but yet still believes Luther will always come through for you in the end. DS Teller is also a little apprehensive about Luther’s state of mind, but believes in his passion to bring bad guys to justice—even upon suspicion of Luther’s wrong doing. We see in their eyes why we should believe in the protagonist Luther, which can work a lot better than telling us from Luther’s own mouth why we should believe in him—or in a novel having a long info dumped paragraph of why he’s a good guy at heart.
The sidekicks or believers can do a lot for your main character. Plus they add that element of one more person to disappoint should the protagonist fail. It raises the stakes and tension. Watch Luther for this too.
I love the opening for this. I’m a graphic designer, so these kinds of things very much appeal to me.
I’d rank it up there with the opening for Cowboy Bebop. Anyways, I hope I’ve convinced you to watch Luther already. It’s not available on Hulu currently, but you can watch the first two season on Netflix.
Have you seen Luther? Would you recommend it? What other BBC shows are you totally into right now? What makes a really good villain in your mind? Do you utilize sidekicks or believers in your stories? Let us know below.