Tube Talk: British Invasion

By Paula Hendrickson
Television Columnist

The next couple weeks bring great tidings for American fans of British popular culture. First, Adele comes to NBC with a concert taped in New York last month. A few days later, Idris Elba finally returns to BBC America as the titular character in the latest installment of the addictive psychological police thriller, Luther. And, as always, there is the annual Doctor Who Christmas episode coming up on Christmas Day.

What more could an Anglophile want for this holiday season—other than a giant screen high-definition television with surround sound to complete their viewing pleasure?

Adele Live in New York City will include highlights of the singer’s first concert in four years. Unfortunately, it’s only an hour-long special instead of the entire concert, but it will include some behind-the-scenes footage the concertgoers weren’t privy to. The one-night only performance took place at Radio City Music Hall, but viewers will also get a sneak peak at what went into mounting the show.

Meanwhile on BBC America Elba’s Detective Chief Inspector John Luther is perhaps the ultimate heroic anti-hero. What do I mean by that? The self-destructive cop often goes to extremes to catch killers, but unlike most anti-heroes, he’s not doing it for his own benefit. He simply does whatever it necessary, hopeful that the ends will justify the means. Luther will be lucky to retain his sanity given some of the cases he’s seen. The new one, which lures Luther even deeper into the abyss, sounds especially gruesome since it involves a cannibalistic serial killer.

Yes, Luther can be very disturbing, and the content isn’t for everyone. But Elba’s performance is what most fans, and critics, love about the show. The crimes he investigates aren’t really any more disturbing that you’d find on a typical episode of Criminal Minds, but because it’s basically a recurring mini-series—often with years between new installments (the last “season” was 2013)—Luther takes the time to tell each story over the course of a couple hours. That allows the audience a better glimpse of how each case impacts Luther’s damaged psyche.

On a lighter note, this year’s Christmas episode of Doctor Who reunites The Doctor (currently played by Peter Capaldi) with his wife, River Song (Alex Kingston) in an episode titled, The Husbands of River Song. Considering River died the first time we met her, that’s quite a feat. At this point there are no spoilers in revealing their timelines have never really been in sync.

We haven’t seen River interact with this Doctor yet, but given the larger-than-life characters, the actors portraying them, and the fact that it’s a Christmas special, you can be sure it will be a fun romp through space and time.

My DVR is set for this month’s British invasion. Is yours?

Programming Notes:

Adele Live in New York City airs Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Luther returns Thursday, December 17 at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

The Doctor Who Christmas special airs Friday, December 25 at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

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