This week has been a turbulent rollercoaster for fans of BBC’s brilliant anger fuelled ‘Luther’ TV series.
BBC’s Luther is created and written by Neil Cross and stars the dominant gravitas of Idris Elba. Boasting a fantastic main villain, inventive sub-villains and a terrific evolving supporting cast, Luther is one of the best British dramas ever.
It all sounds good does it not? A great drama, starring a great actor and overseen by a respected writer – what could possibly be the matter with Luther?
Well, this week began with unexpected and polarising news that FOX had ordered a pilot for a supposed American remake of Luther.
Then came the announcement that Luther would return to the BBC in 2015 for two specials.
Luther fans were treated to even further surprises when Elba, who also serves as a producer on the show, detailed his desire to take Luther to the big screen.
And the buck didn’t stop there – Idris Elba made a surprise announcement. He would be bringing back his musical talents as a former DJ to compose and record a special album centred on the style and events of the series – can the man be more talented?
So you see, if any show has dominated this past week, it was Luther.
Now, before we delve into the inner workings and hesitant emotions pertaining to the various announcements, I must implore those who have not seen Luther to seek out the show. It is a work of art. The characters are uncanny yet surreal. The show stands on a foundation of TV tropes but is vaulted forward by intriguing characters and even more impressive performances.
All that being said and done, I, like all other Luther fans, have reached the end of these 7 days of creation, split.
Let us take the announcements individually.
Fox remaking Luther is not a bad thing, not at all. I have never had a problem with the idea of remaking movies or TV shows. My problem comes with the end product, which, more often than not, is below standard.
The US Inbetweeners was a train wreck but the US version on Broadchurch, Gracepoint, is actually very good. The American IT Crowd pilot wasn’t even in the same UK league but some argue the US Shameless surpasses the UK Shameless. US Coupling was unwatchable whilst The Office US and House of Cards US are award winning remakes. My point is that sometimes America gets it right, sometimes they get it wrong.
And on paper, Luther looks like it may be right – Neil Cross will serve as a writer on the series, which will presumably copy over the same stories and characters with minor tweaks for the American audience and setting. Elba will also serve as a producer. The original’s impetus and creative flair is still there on paper.
But what will it miss out on? The London setting for one. Luther is so integrated with the blood and heartbeat of London’s central locations, back alleys and characters that it may be discombobulating in any other location. They can make it work but can they make it work without London?
Then comes the elephant in the room – recasting. Does the US remake intend to transfer the same actors but switch over the accents?
It would seem silly to attempt an American remake with Idris Elba in the lead whilst the British Luther intends to run alongside and even jump onto the big screen. I, personally, can’t see anyone else in the role of Luther. Elba poured his anger and nuances into that role. His hulking physique, his subtle emotions and his detective work is simple yet effective. Who would want to be compared to him? And who would want to redo Ruth Wilson’s Alice? Wilson still stands as one of Britain’s greatest under utilised actresses.
Remake all you want US, you’ll have a hard time topping the original’s distinct feel and outstanding cast.
The high inducing news that BBC’s Luther UK would return for two specials in 2015 is fantastic. It seemed for a very long time that we wouldn’t see Elba’s angry alter ego back on the small screen when the star expressed that movies were the way forward, but this announcement is what we’ve all been waiting to hear. Perhaps the two specials will set up the movies and round off the small screen adventure.
The BBC announcement also shows the BBC’s power. Despite housing shows with the likes of Cillain Murphy, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Idris Elba, the BBC still manages to bring them back from the big screen lure. It seems big stars want breaks away from the theatres and want to impress us and gain respect in the comfort of our own homes and couches and we can only respect and admire them for that.
The third announcement – Luther coming to the big screen – has been talked about for some time but to no avail. It seems now movements are being made and all original parties are involved.
My only question is whether the features will centre on the British cast and story or the American cast and story. I hope to god it is the former rather than the latter – not ever feature needs to be set in America to be great and expansive.
And finally the rather unexpected musical announcement that Elba will compose a Luther-centric album to run alongside the series. Although this isn’t very influential to the series, it is nice to see the obvious passion Elba has for the series. He has chosen to show said passion through music and who can blame him?
So what is the matter with Luther? None actually. Elba’s growing respect and superstardom has catapulted Luther into focus and it seems these announcements are just the beginning. Let us hope that we aren’t shot off kilter by terrible miscasting, future plan’s being subdued and the auld enemy that is scheduling conflicts coming the fore.