TV review: The Route Masters: Running London's Roads, BBC2

Luther, BBC1

"My best friend calls me the Bus Pimp," said Vicky, one of the more engaging characters in The Route Masters, "But I do get called Blakey too." This comparison had obviously occurred to the producers of this series about London's transport systems, too, because they'd called their final episode "On the Buses". I'm very glad to say that it was much funnier and sweeter than the original, in large part thanks to Vicky, who brings an earthy realism to her work as a route controller.

"We're not asking them to fart gold or anything," she said about the drivers she supervises from a central control room. "Just drive the bus on the time card if you can.... it's not a rocket-science job." No it isn't, Vicky.... it's bus science, but then that now involves a lot more than a clipboard and a suspicious nature. Every bus is monitored by video and GPS, its progress tracked from a control room that looks a lot more Cape Canaveral than you might expect.

The drivers don't much care for this, talking wistfully of the time when they were a law unto themselves once they'd left the depot. But when you heard some of the stories of the good old days, you couldn't help but feel that passengers should feel grateful for the new efficiency. One old driver recalled letting his conductor off to do a spot of grocery shopping halfway through the route. And Christine, training to drive a bus herself, remembered her father's happy memories of popping into the pub for a pint and some jellied eels, while his customers sat stalled at his convenience.

Others recited the numerous ways in which you could sabotage a double-decker if you didn't feel like working on a particular day. This episode ended with a crescendo of nostalgic sentiment for the old Routemaster bus, including the very touching affection of the engineer who keeps the surviving ones on the road. But even he couldn't persuade you that the system was better back then than it is now.

"I've seen something like this before," said Luther, in the opening minutes of the latest series of the show that bears his name. Boy, you can say that again. Here we go again with the solitary woman making her way home down darkened streets, doomed to end up as the plaything of a murderous psychopath. Here we go again with a killer who wallpapers his lair with evidence of his previous crimes.

And here we go again with the weary detective superintendant who appears to speak exclusively in procedural clichés. "It's out of my hands," he says, pulling Luther off the fetish killer case to chase down the murderer of an internet troll. "Don't make me regret it," he adds, when Luther improbably convinces him that he can work both enquiries simultaneously.

The twist for this series is that internal investigators suspect that Luther might be a kind of serial killer himself. His suspects appear to have an unfortunate habit of dying before they get to court, so his loyal sidekick Justin has been persuaded to keep an eye on his working methods, which include dangling reluctant talkers over the parapets of tower blocks. But I'm not convinced this twist is enough to make up for the gaping holes in the plausibility. At one point, the chief suspect for the troll murder chops his fingers off in a blender to avoid a fingerprint match that would incriminate him. You can believe that, in his panic, he might have forgotten that his flat will be absolutely coated in fingerprints. But not that the police will have forgotten it too. And though Luther delivers its gore and its dread with a certain amount of style, it too often falls back on the standard machinery. "What am I not seeing?" Luther asks himself as he stares at the investigation whiteboard in frustration. Anything fresh, I'd say.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing