Viewers who saw the first two installments of Whitechapel will appreciate that there is a significant change in format this time round. Whereas the first two series were three part stories based on Jack the Ripper and The Kray Twins respectively, this time round we have three two part stories. Additionally these investigations are based much more loosely on historical crimes than the first two series. I imagine this is because the Ripper and the Krays are the only two major criminal activities in the Whitechapel area which most viewers will be familiar with.
It is easy to see why this change has come about. Whitechapel was probably intended as a one off, but following its resounding success there was a lot of pressure to come up with a follow up. What we got was a farfetched tale involving clones of the Krays which stretched credibility to extremes. The powers that be clearly appreciated that this time the format had to move on. The result actually works rather well. The historical crimes are still real - you can google the Ratcliff Highway Murders , the Thames Torso Murders or the various masked murderer crimes mentioned on the show, and get the details. The fact that the crimes being investigated are more loosely based on these events makes for a much more realistic story line as opposed to the straight copycat replication of the earlier series.
I thought that the three stories each worked although my personal favorite was the last of the three which was dark and shocking with a substantial sting in the tail. It certainly makes for good if not compulsive TV viewing. One thing I do not think is necessary though is for parts of the filming to be in the semi dark. I presume this is to conjure up visions of the atmospheric Whitechapel of the 1800s, but personally I thought it was unnecessary and did not add anything apart from straining the eyes. However, again Rupert Penry-Jones and Philip Davis put up a convincing performance as DI Chandler and DS Miles, and in the background is Edward Buchan, played by Steve Pemberton, the Ripper and Kray expert, whose knowledge clearly extends to other crimes of the Victorian era as he beavers away in the archives.
I do hope we get more of Whitechapel, and in its new format I imagine there is much more scope to produce additional episodes. I would think the only limitation is if they feel they have to keep seeking out gruesome real life crimes to base it all on, but I really do not see why they should not make up a few of their own if they are struggling!