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Fans of the smashing British crime procedural Luther won't want to miss the gripping second season, which resolves season one's nerve-wracking cliffhanger. But the second season wastes no time in dropping a vicious new evil into the path of DCI John Luther (the impeccable Idris Elba, never better) and the rest of the London homicide detectives. The newest bad guy is a phantom who wears a mask, committing random acts of violence and mayhem--"precisely to wake this country up," as he tells Luther in an untraceable phone call. As the coppers work feverishly to save one of their own, Luther is trying to rebuild his shattered personal life. His ex-wife is long in the past, and his relationship with the tender Alice (who is so nutters she's been hospitalized against her will) is slowly changing as well. Yet Elba's Luther is appealing precisely because of his humanity. When he breaks into a porn/human trafficking ring run by fearless kingpins from Eastern Europe, there's never a doubt that Luther will put himself directly into harm's way to protect a young woman who needs to be taken kicking and screaming (literally) into protection. And once again, the costar of Luther that's almost as memorable as Elba is the underbelly of London. It's not picturesque, it's not pastoral, and it's definitely not romantic--and yet the London of Luther pulses to its own heartbeat, which is as real and compulsively watchable as its hero. A note about season two: There are just four episodes in this boxed set, and no extras. But fans of the series won't want to miss any of it.

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WAE227818 Luther Season 2 DVD (2010/Idris Elba) $34.99 $28.99