Suffering from Copper withdrawal yet? No worries. Another period-based crime thriller is just around the bend. Lying in wait down a dank, cobbled alleyway, Ripper Street is more than enough to keep BBC America drama lovers ecstatic until Corky pummels his way back to our TV sets.
The time: 1889.
The place: Whitechapel district – East End, London.
The situation: Police and common folk alike are jumpy, not fully recovered from the murderous reign of the still-at-large Jack the Ripper.
It doesn’t matter that the murders have ceased. The silence, though welcome, is heavy with a sense of unease and dread. Is he really gone or just paused to take a breath? Adding to this tension is an area rife with questionable goings-on and homicidal deeds. No one can relax.
Thus the stage is set for a gosh-darn thrilling crime series, lead by Matthew Macfadyen as the intrepid Inspector Edmund Reid. One of my Brit favs since the spy series MI-5, Macfadyen, as Reid, feels more than just a little bit of guilt for letting the areas most infamous killer slip through his fingers.
And, of course, how good can an inspector be without a dependable back up man? Filling that role is the stalwart Sergeant Drake played by Jerome Flynn whose tendency to use his brawn a little too much strikes a compelling balance with Reid’s more methodical methods.
Drake’s loyalty to Reid is as fierce as his dislike of Captain Homer Jackson, (Adam Rothenberg.) Jackson, a former Pinkerton and U.S. army surgeon, has fled the states under dubious circumstances and in spite of his mysterious background, Reid has come to depend on the medical man for his forward thinking expertise when it comes to forensics.
Accompanying this top tier team of players are MyAnna Buring as Jackson’s partner in business and hints of something very dark, Charlene McKenna as Rose, Jackson’s go-to bed-warmer, and Amanda Hale, Reid’s depressive wife who’s more often than not found in church rather than at home.
Writer and creator Richard Warlow, doesn’t ease into anything here. He picks at the scab left by the Ripper’s reign when, at the start of episode one, a young woman’s body is found mutilated. The words of a young constable, “They found a tart… she’s been ripped…,” are enough to cause panic in the streets and tension amongst the main peacekeepers. Things are not as someone would have them appear however and the detecting begins.
There are eight episodes and a lot of ground is plowed in the first two; suspenseful story lines, intelligently executed, with well-drawn characters. All in all, excellent stuff for any mystery buff. I was left with expectations running high that, as this crime drama unfolds, the revelations will be well worth the wait. Make room for more drama.
Ripper Street, BBC America’s latest addition to its crime roster, premieres this Saturday, January 19 at 9pm, but if you can’t wait here’s a sneak peak at the first three minutes.