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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory