29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
The Legacy Of Jack: This BBC Period Piece Explores The Aftermath Of The Ripper's Reign,
This review is from: Ripper Street Season 1 (Amazon Video)
History's enduring fascination with the gruesome crimes of Jack The Ripper continues unabated with yet another example of popular fiction being inspired by the legendary murderer. Truthfully, I have read enough books, seen enough television, and watched enough movies that cast Jack The Ripper into a central role that I feel like he's an old friend--albeit one I wouldn't want to invite home to dinner. So wearily and warily, I sat down to watch the BBC production of "Ripper Street." I watch a LOT on BBC, perhaps too much! Having recently watched both "Whitechapel" (a Jack tale set in present day) and "Copper" (a historical crime drama), I couldn't help seeing "Ripper Street" as somewhat of a stylistic cross between both of these shows. "Ripper Street" is set in London's East End circa 1889 in the ensuing chaos following the notorious murders. The show centers around a precinct called H Division. Six months after Jack's spree, they are still entrusted to keep the peace within the Whitechapel neighborhood where fear and hysteria run rampant. Although Jack's carnage may be a thing of the past (or is it?), his legacy endures and the streets are far from safe!
As more murders start to be discovered, the public paranoia immediately points to Jack's return. It's up to H Division to sort these crimes out and apprehend the real culprits. To be fair, it might not be entirely accurate to call this a show about Jack the Ripper. The atmosphere and setting of the show is historically linked and influenced by these murders, but the plotting stays the course of a more conventional police procedural with different crimes to solve episodically. The always reliable Matthew Macfadyen heads the investigative team with the assistance of Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg. I like Macfadyen's intensity, as usual, and Rothenberg gets more of the personal drama as his relationship with a brothel madam (Myanna Buring) is one of the series' more intriguing side plots. Rounding out the principle cast are a scandal seeking reporter (David Dawson) and a mother haunted by her daughter's death (Amanda Hale). The performances throughout are solid
As I said, the principle plot threads of "Ripper Street" have to do with solving new cases. MacFadyen and team are rather progressive, and part of the show's appeal is seeing the evolution of modern police investigative techniques. This can sometimes feel a little too modern as if the show wants to hedge its bets and attract the CSI crowd! Also to appeal to a wider audience, Rothenberg is both an American surgeon and a former Pinkerton. So he brings a different perspective that the other Detective Inspectors can learn from and clash with. But despite some of these conveniences in plotting, the show really does a good job highlighting the panic and fear that distinguishes the Whitechapel area.
The staging of the program is impressively dark and dreary. A lot of money seems to have been spent getting the period details just so. A lot of the scenes are shot outside where the sets look spectacular. Sometimes, however, the filming techniques and discordant music feel a little heavy. Overall, though, I think "Ripper Street" is very well done from a technical standpoint. I'm afraid, however, that some people will come to the show looking for fast paced action or even something more gruesome. The show is earnest and methodical and it takes its time. Some episodes can feel spectacularly slow and I don't think that it's necessarily a home run right out of the gate. If you stick with it, "Ripper Street" finds its rhythm and improves with subsequent episodes as the screenplays can dig into the characters a bit deeper. If you like either crime procedurals or period piece dramas, this might be worth a look. KGHarris, 1/13.
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Initial post: Jun 27, 2013 6:59:30 PM PDT
David Whiting says:
Great review! While good crime dramas are still being produced, it's easy to, "Out watch" the production pace. I rely on solid, well written reviews to find the better shows as opposed to the, "Also Ran's". Your review has been a big help in deciding to follow this show.
Posted on Mar 23, 2014 10:34:45 AM PDT
I think this series is really good. This review helped understand the atmosphere in which it takes place.
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