Fox, having learned nothing from its Gracepoint/Broadchurch experiment, is developing a remake of the BBC crime series Luther. Like Gracepoint/Broadchurch, Fox has hired Luther‘s original creator, Neil Cross, to assist in the making of the American version, which will exist because …? There’s really not a sound reason to remake Luther, especially since the original is readily available for U.S. audiences via Netflix (it also ran on BBC America). Hit the jump for the who and the what of this remake.
According to Variety, Idris Elba, star of the original series, will serve as an executive producer, but not appear in the American version. This is a huge problem. Luther is Elba. Remove his performance, and Luther becomes more a run-of-the-mill Sherlock-inspired weekly-psycho series (in which Single White Females Living Alone are always targeted and brutally killed). It was Elba’s interactions with co-star Ruth Wilson (as the mysterious Alice) that made episodes electric, as well as the growing and changing relationship with his sidekick-of-sorts, Justin Ripley (Warren Brown). Further, Luther, like Sherlock, is integrally tied to a place: London.
Luther ran for three seasons in the U.K., and was marked but its commitment to short, rich seasons (a la Sherlock). While Fox more or less honored Broadchurch‘s structure when commissioning Gracepoint (which it expanded to ten episodes instead of eight), it would be very surprising if the new Luther was in any way a contained or limited series (though it should be).
What’s particularly interesting is that Fox is taking another gamble on a remake from a U.K. series so soon after Gracepoint, which has been a ratings flop, and critically panned as unnecessary (although in its defense, its seventh episode — where it breaks away from Broadchurch, finally — could portend a strong finish. A second season is almost entirely out of the question at this point, though).
Neil Cross’ involvement lends some hope to the project, although, for those who watched the quickly-cancelled Crossbones on NBC this summer (another Cross production), that hope may not be particularly well-stoked at this point.
Luther leaves a big coat to fill. Is anyone besides Elba fit to wear it? Also, would Fox be willing to cast a black male lead? Then again, as Luther himself says: “Don’t ask questions. I don’t like questions.” Here, we might not like the answers.