Last year BBC America had it’s own program called Copper. It’s a good show about cops and killers in New York in 1864. Ripper Street is a BBC show that looks and feels a bit like Copper. It’s the story of cops, whores, and steam-punk CSI.
The BBC is a bit more graphic in it’s display of mutilated bodies than CSI and the high tech used to solve crimes is a microscope instead of a laser. Like most cop shows we have a Crime, a Detective, and a Solution. The window dressing is Victorian London, Whitechapel to be specific. The year is 1889, which is a year after Whitechapel made worldwide news as the playground of someone known as Jack The Ripper. In two of the first three episodes Jack is mentioned as having possibly returned.
Our hero Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, is played by the deadpan and near expressionless Matthew Macfadyen who seems to be doing his best impression of a hound dog. His arm twisting Sargent is played perfectly by Jerome Flynn, who plays a similar enforcer type in Game of Thrones. Captain Homer Jackson is an American with a knack for forensics played by Adam Rothenberg. And the main female character is Madame Long Susan who shares secrets with Captain Jackson, played by Myanna Buring.
These are not a likable group of people. The Cops us torture to extract information, the American appears to live in the brothel, and everyone from fellow cops to the local newspaper eagerly hope for the return of the glory days of Jack the Ripper.
One of the oddest bits in the first few episodes is when our hero finds a woman being murdered for a snuff film and he takes the time to tell the photographer what a way cool thing the movies are.
I still like Ripper Street with it’s fun costumes and dark and grim view of London during what we now tend to think of as the height of the Golden Age of the British Empire. These are interesting people, if not always likable people. I also like the general deductive and investigative nature of Ripper Street. I like how the crimes are solved and above all else, Ripper Street is about solving the crime.