By its barest description, "Luther" (BBC America, 10 p.m. Sundays) sounds like you've seen it a thousand times.
It's about a troubled brilliant cop (played by Idris Elba aka Stringer Bell on "The Wire") whose questionable tactics give him the right results with murky morality. But "Luther" offers so much more than that description. This is an intense, complex, creepy ride.
When we meet John Luther, he's chasing a man who has killed several children. He's got him cornered, and in forcing him to give the location of his latest victim, Luther makes a choice that provides the subtext for nearly everything that happens in the six-part series. (I've seen three and I already want more than six.)
Among the ramifications of that decision is the unraveling of his marriage to Zoe (Indira Varma), a woman whom he desperately loves. Zoe knows Luther's a decent man, but she's moved on with Mark (Paul McGann). Luther can't let her go.
On the other hand, Alice (Ruth Wilson) can't let Luther go. She's a brilliant woman, a physicist, whom Luther meets when he investigates the bloody murder of her parents and family dog. They begin a relationship that's strange, sexual -- it's got a "Silence of the Lambs" vibe.
And while Luther is juggling all of that, he's also dealing with a police force that doesn't think he's entirely stable, and a series of crimes that make London seem a lot more scary than Baltimore. I don't know if it's the foggy, wet streets or the uncluttered, country homes, but the crimes and crimes scenes are incredibly chilling.
The only thing better than tough Idris Elba, or tough and smart Idris Elba, is tough, smart, vulnerable Idris Elba with a British accent. Still, Wilson comes pretty close to stealing his thunder.
Occasionally, you'll have a tough time understanding dialogue (those Brits sure talk funny) but it's worth the effort. You might need to take a minute or two if 11 p.m. is your bedtime. This show will haunt you.