This week’s review explores the BBC’s newest drama, Ripper Street.
Set in the year 1889 in London’s East End, it’s been six months since the last Jack the Ripper killing. The H division police officers of Whitechapel are responsible for policing the 67, 000 poor Londoners that live there. Just when it seems as though things are going to quieten down, more murdered women are found on the grimy streets. Has Jack returned to kill again? Detective Inspector Edmund Reid and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake work together with the aid of former US Army surgeon Captain Homer Jackson to investigate the killings and bring order once again to the deprived streets of Whitechapel.
The frequently cross paths with Tenter Street brothel madame Long Susan who emigrated to London with Jackson and lets him take up residence within the brothel.
As it turns out, most of the murders are in no way connected to the infamous Jack the Ripper, and are, I suppose you could say, ordinary murders (even though there’s nothing ordinary about murder, the point is, it’s not Jack the Ripper).Each episode features stand-alone crimes that also explore Reid’s, Jackson’s, and Drake’s personal and professional lives.
Well, since there have only been two episodes of Ripper Street that have aired in Australia, I can only judge from what I have seen so far. From what I have gathered, the concept of the horrors of the Ripper murders is merely used as a tool to promote the show to a wider audience; the actual content of the show itself is more like your average Midsomer Murders. The theme looks heavily based on Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes, but the characters themselves are very different to both.
Apart from the nearly-obvious references to Sherlock Holmes and Whitechapel, the show is rather interesting and the murders are quite bizarre and unique. The show stars Matthew MacFayden as Reid, Jerome Flynn as Drake, Adam Rothenberg as Jackson, and MyAnna Buring as Long Susan. The casting is excellent, and all actors are brilliant in their parts. The sets and effects really give an accurate portrayal of what life would have been like in the poverty-ridden areas of Victorian London; I have a thing for historical accuracy in movies and tv shows, so I was pretty happy with how they got the image right.
I have heard that as the series progresses, both the individual and ongoing stories get better and better, so I will be waiting in anticipation to see what excitement each new episode brings. Maybe… just maybe if we’re really really lucky, there will be an episode where we see reference to an actual Jack the Ripper murder be made, but I’m not building my hopes up. All in all, the concept of solving murder in the Victorian era sheds a new light on just how tough a job it was for the police, especially in an area of London such as Whitechapel. If the show is viewed as an ordinary BBC murder mystery, it is still a pretty decent show with some interesting characters and a distinctive storyline. Hopefully, we will see some more in-depth character development as the series progresses which will reveal more about the shady pasts that have been hinted about each of the main characters.
All in all, if murder mystery is your thing, I would definitely recommend giving this a watch. I know I’ll be tuning in every week.