We’re great fans of Ripper Street here at The Killing Times, and were thrilled when the BBC’s cancellation of the series was remedied by its swift adoption by Amazon. But has series three kept up the standard? There has been twists, turns, character development and interesting stories told coherently and very well. With the series three finale looming large, here’s five reasons why we think this series of Ripper Street has been the best yet.
It’s still just as gruesome.
Never knowingly undersold in the ‘yuck’ stakes, Ripper Street continues to portray the brutal, filthy, sordid streets of Whitechapel just as they must have been; if you’re looking for violent death, rampant disease and disturbing medical procedures, Ripper Street is full of ’em. It’s like Horrible Histories with added crime.
Never mind the Victorian era, Ripper Street cleverly chooses its subjects so they’re bang up to date; we’ve had child abduction, loan-sharking, social cleansing, all forms of misuse of women, healthcare issues, drug abuse, labour exploitation and more. The more things change, the more they remain the same, eh?
The amount of research that must go into the scripts is staggering; from the vocabulary in the carefully-crafted dialogue to the dates in the newspapers, the publication date of books and the songs in the music halls, everything hangs together. If you think you’ve spotted an anachronism, look it up and be corrected; you’ll learn something amazing from every episode. This series even referred back to the original Ripper murders, and made them fit into the plot.
Aside from the CGI shots, which have depicted an amazing train crash, an enormous brewing complex and some grand shots of the stews of Whitechapel, every aspect from the costumes to the street fittings is beautifully observed. It rewards repeated viewing just to freeze-frame on the fine detail.
While the main story arc belongs to Matthew MacFadyen’s tormented Inspector Reid and MyAnna Buring’s conflicted Susan Hart, the real revelation has been Jerome Flynn’s Bennet Drake; the performance has received the increased screen time it’s deserved. Supporting performances like Clive Russell’s Chief Inspector Abberline have had their time in the limelight too. It’s a challenge to serve an ensemble cast this well, one to which this series has risen admirably.
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Anachronism: The Royal Albert Old Country Roses teapot that has been seen several times serving tea at Long Susan’s. The pattern was designed by Harold Holdcroft in 1962. ;-)