Tag Archives: Cribb

Ripper Street

28 Jul

The much acclaimed BBC series “Ripper Street” started here in Australia last night and after one episode I am already a fan.

Written and created by Richard Warlow, it seamlessly blends historical figures with fictional ones to create a smooth, but gritty, production that doesn’t attempt to whitewash the nasty aspects of Victorian English society.

Matthew MacFadyen plays Inspector Edmund Reid of H Division, which includes Whitechapel.  Edmund Reid was a real person who initially ran the Jack the Ripper case, until Scotland Yard sent Freddie Abberline in to take charge.  Abberline is also a character in Ripper Street.

The show uses actual Ripper victim photos, really blurring the line between fact and fiction.

The other two major characters of fictional.  Reid’s sergeant, Drake, and an extremely annoying American former army surgeon and Pinkterton agent, Homer Jackson.   I took against Jackson when he hit a woman, brothel owner Susan.  I know it’s accurate for the time period, but doesn’t mean I have to like it or the character.  Though it is obvious that Jackson is being set up to be somewhat unlikeable in the viewers eyes.  Inspector Reid (to Sgt Drake): I know it’s tempting, but try not to kill him.

The plot of the first episode involves the possible return of the Ripper and Freddie Abberline’s obsession with catching him, bare knuckled fighting, naughty postcards and the world’s first snuff movie.  Best scene has to be Reid, Drake and Jackson trapped in a burning photographer’s studio.  Drake (about Reid): What’s he doing?  Jackson: Crazy bastard’s making gunpowder!

The use of Victorian street slang or thieves’ cant works.  Quite often attempts at this can come across as pretentious.  In “Ripper Street” it works and works well.

“Ripper Street” is delicious.  Dark, lush, atmospheric, grotesque at times, violent, exciting, and totally compelling viewing.  It actually reminds me on some levels of the “Cribb” series of the 1980s, but much deeper and richer.

As soon as “Ripper Street” is available on dvd here in Australia, I will be buying it.  It is a show that will repay many, many viewings.

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