The Brits know how to tell some great stories that will make you a junkie for the tension before the first episode ends. Seriousness abounds, villains are everywhere, and the good guys sometimes need their souls dry cleaned. Turn that frown upside down, then use your fingers to push it up a bit more until it’s a nice grimace. You're now prepared for the five best British drama shows you haven’t seen.
Idris Elba is Detective Chief Inspector Luther, who isn’t always on the same side of the law that he serves. He dabbles, slides and grasps at things past the line of demarcation between the good guys and the bad guys. The understandings Luther finds with Alice, his murdering errant companion, and with Reed, his lawful colleague, are different, and yet still both necessary for the inspector to find his path in “Luther”. Luther’s roof ledge talk with DCI Reed in episode two stands out not as foreshadowing, but as a ruthless prophecy to the audience-no amount of forewarning will help them figure out what is to come.
Like “Three’s Company” but with more violence, murder, vampires, corruption, friendship, ghosts, love, redemption, tragedy and werewolves-but almost exactly like “Three’s Company”. Overcoming what could be a ridiculous story of the friendship triangle between a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire, “Being Human” finds sincerity in its tales of humanity, both lost and found, discovering the frailty in the most powerful of creatures. A non-traditional drama, this British show cleverly holds your attention in the quiet moments or the brutal events, like the inadvertent hidden adult film that creates a mob aiming to kill a different kind of monster in “Another Fine Mess”.
This drama follows the conflicting path of an attorney and a detective, who is hellbent on putting the attorney away for murder. “Injustice” keeps you guessing about everyone’s motivations, but most importantly, it will keep your allegiances shifting from character to character until you’re thoroughly confused and addicted to the show. The detective's interview of Mrs. Davis in episode two has the kind of unfiltered natural dialogue that ignores the sheen of polish for the power of gritty reality.
“The Shadow Line”
Duality saturates this series with two great actors, Christopher Eccleston and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the two opposing forces that share the task of solving the murder of local drug boss Harvey Wratten. The ragged knot in this mystery is that Eccleston is a criminal, and Ejiofor is a detective that might be as dirty as Eccleston, but his amnesia prevents him from knowing if his innocence actually exists. “The Shadow Line” excels with a story that gives a single crime two perspectives, thus making a police procedural that is just as much a criminal procedural by rights. Gatehouse’s understated mannerisms and his almost affectation-free speech make his final scene with Andy in episode three horrifying in its believability.
A legendary British detective requires a tremendous British actor, and you can’t get much better or more British than the name Cumberpatch. With the premier roles of Holmes, Watson, Moriarty and Mycroft filled with incredible talent, “Sherlock” leaves behind the morass of bad renditions and equals (if not tops) the best of the great versions. It shrugs off the Victorian gaslight in exchange for the Britannia of modern day. The psychological strain of the cat and mouse game with the security lights at Henry Knight’s home is the definition of a thrilling moment in “The Hounds of Baskerville”.