Monday 7 January 2013

Review - Episode 2 - Ripper Street. Ghosts and Monsters

Well folks, the second episode has been and gone. I am still a little confused about how the series has been written, and starting to feel a bit like I did when I watched Hamlet set in the twentieth century - or in this case Shakespearean language with 19th century imagery. Is that the writers' intention? I do not see it as either a classical or cultural programme...but it could do with Sub-titles at times!

More than a hint of Dickens, yet again, as you would probably expect, mixed in with the opium culture exposed by Conan Doyle.

Dicken's Fagin - in this case a Scouser named Carmichael, played by Joe Gilgun, the sinister head of a gang of boys who were covered in tattoos - each of which was a 'badge of honour' for each type of crime they had committed, tearing up H Division of Whitechapel under the noses of the Metropolitan Police. 

Gilgun's was the Monster figure - fearless of the law and of the consequences - great - and probably a fair portrayal of some villains of the time.

This is where my personal views start to divert me from what is going on in each of the first episodes. H Division at around 1889 / 1890, when this series is depicted, covered an area of 1 and 1/4 square miles, policed by over 200 officers, spread between four stations. 

Leman Street, which is where our series heroes are stationed, was H Division HQ, and would have been the hub from which the Division ran, and now blooded by its experiences of the Ripper inquiries.

Yet here we are in episode two, where there are experienced and "ex Ripper" detectives, who don't even know who this gang are, or have any knowledge of such tattoos and have seemingly never become aware of Carmichael. Really?

Little wonder they didn't detect the Ripper, if that had been the case...but I don't think so, somehow.

The storyline based on the beating to death of a toymaker was actually a good plot, but I could have done with sub-titles as the language strayed yet again. Where is the rhyming slang or back slang that I would associate with the area of that age?

The ghosts? We are starting to get some background now on each of our main characters. DI Reid (played by Matthew Macfayden) carries the ghost of a lost daughter. DS Drake (Jerome Flynn)  has mental scars from his visions in the Army - and an Egyptian tattoo to connect them to. When will his violence be diagnosed back to PTSD? And Captain Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and the case of the lost ring, appears probably not to be who he has been introduced to us as...or did I get that bit wrong? 

Jackson is starting to look a bit like a lover of the Opium dens of Conan Doyle...with a quick hangover cure containing coke to boot! An American Sherlock Holmes?

Plenty of room for each character to develop, and next week's preview looks like it is going to rain bodies, so time for improvement - But, I am not holding my breath!!!

I am afraid my heroes, Shepherd and Beddows will be plain speaking Midlanders, who do swear, and who do speak about "me duck", "ginnells", "ganzies" and will not have  trodden the boards...cos I think thats how most people will want them to speak.

I was hoping Ripper Street was going to be that bit more "Gritty" all round!


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