WHITECHAPEL recently aired on ITV as a three-part crime drama. Essentially, at the centre of the story is the question of whether in today's world with forensic science and improved criminal investigation, could Jack the Ripper be caught?
In order to put this idea across, the story revolves around the 'ultimate' fan of Jack copying his infamous murders, 120 years on. Penry-Jones stars as the detective put in charge of the case and he truly puts in a fantastic performance. It is he who first accepts that history is repeating itself - but of course, this realisation then brings him to the knowledge that it is he who is now responsible for trying to solve the unsolveable.
I won't give any more away than that. All I will say is that this drama succeeds on many levels. Ripperologists should find much to like but even just fans of drama and crime should take something from it. The cast are all very good, making it not just about Jack and the murders but also about the people on the police force.
Another great drama from ITV - highly recommended.
As the two reviewers who have already written that they are, I will make no bones about me NOT being a Ripperologist. Admittedly I know who was killed when and how, and I know the usual suspects including the more outrageous claims. But indeed how could I not, because over the years Jack the Ripper still fascinates people and has become a legend.
It is present day Whitechapel and it would seem that the police have a Jack the Ripper copycat killer on their hands. But if that wasn't bad enough the detectives who have to deal with the crimes have a fast-track university graduate to lead them. In todays modern world it should be relatively easy to catch the psychopath you would think, but alas no, as history starts to repeat itself. The forensic reports start to read exactly the same as from the original cases and the desriptions of the killer start to seem the same as back then, also you have the nutters who claim that they did it coming out of the woodwork, as they did back then. It seems that the ghost of Jack is back repeating his crimes as the police bash their heads against the wall following one misleading clue and suspect after another. Is it a copycat killer or has the real Jack returned? And can the police catch him? I'm not going to spoil it if you haven't already seen it, but it is well worth watching.
The production team have really done their research for this, the acting is brilliant and the whole thing gels together beautifully. Rupert Penry-Jones as the fast-track officer is convincing as all the characters are. Phil Davies is brilliant as the hardened copper who starts off undermining the leader of the group but comes to liking, respecting and helping the poor bloke. Steve Pemberton as the Ripperologist who tries to help the police plays his strongest and most powerful role that I have seen him in. If you loved Messiah you will definitely love this, and there isn't a criminal psychologist to get in the way anywhere.
As somewhat of an amateur Ripperologist myself (though I am a Maybrickite and most Ripperologists will tell you that this doesn't count HA HA) I was looking forward to and dreading watching 'Whitechapel' in equal measure. Looking forward because I was interested to see just how a modern film maker would get on with so difficult a task of recreating the most infamous series of murders of all time and dreading because I feared just how inaccurate, overblown or ridiculous the eventual plot may turn out to be (to say nothing of the standard of acting!).
It is with enormous joy then that I can thoroughly recommend 'Whitechapel' to you. Be you a seasoned Ripperologist, a beginner or someone with a casual interest in Jack The Ripper (or in fact just great drama) you WILL enjoy this. The standard of acting throughout is exceptional. Phil Davies is the epitomy of the abrasive, seasoned and experienced copper fed up with 'fast tracked' DI's taking command of 'his boys'. Rupert Penry-Jones is equally impressive as the 'never got his hands dirty before' out of his depth DI that eventually 'gets the taste' for the job he at first saw as a way of 'ticking a career box'. Best of all however is Steve Pemberton's Ripperologist character. Pemberton is simply magical as the incredibly knowledgeable, 'Buchann' whose apparent reveling in, and public performance of (via his 'Ripper Walks') the gory details of the case make him both creepy and unnerving.
For hardcore Ripperologists, the character names and suspect descriptions will ring many bells and help to truly bring the past to life. I am not going to spoil things here and tell all about the in's and outs of who the programme makers eventually point the finger at as their idea of who the ripper was but I will say that their opinion does at least work out to be a sensible one, something that should appease most that already know a lot about the case. As an extra for DVD, there is also a 20 odd minute 'Making Of' featurette including interviews with the cast, the director and the production crew. It is well worth watching and serves to advertise just how much thought and research went into the making of the programme. Some of the actors thoughts on their particular characters roles are also enlightening and a few of the 'subtle touches' that are revealed will ensure you will want to watch the main feature again more than once.
A triumph all round!
I have a great fondness for English film/television, and now the BBC America series 'Whitechapel,' which opens with a three-part mini-series about a Jack the Ripper copycat comes our way. It is a fascinating study of modern police work versus the real Jack the Ripper era.
We are introduced to straight-laced DI Joseph Chandler, played by Rupert Penry-Jones, a favorite from MI-5 days. He is an up and comer and hopes to move to the administrative end of the police world. He enters the 'old way of policing and detective work', and almost immediately he runs up against DS Ray Miles, played by Phil Davis. The slovely, disrespectful group of detectives are in the beginning phase of a case that resembles Jack the Ripper of old. They discount any and all information from a 'Ripperologist' played by Steve Pemberton. He is a fascinating character and plays a large part in these series. After some conflict between Chandler, and the other detectives, they check unsolved crimes and discover that, much like the Ripper, this copycat may have killed before.
The three shows seem very fast paced, and many of the clues and thought processes are forced on us, to digest and assimilate. The Ripperologist, fills in many gaps, and I felt on top of the facts of Jack the Ripper and his crimes. This was an historical lesson as well as a good police procedural. The series tells us of the six women who were killed, how, when and where. The continuity of Jack the Ripper gives this show a great base, and the mystery is filled with suspense. We come to know the detectives and some of their quirks. Their tendencies to disorganization does not stand them in good stead with their new DI, and as they get to know him, they show change. This is a male 'Prime Suspect' and is well worth your viewing.
on 23 January 2011
Great actors in this series, I love Philip Davies, he is great in all his roles. If you like crime thrillers you will love this.
An original idea but the treatment does not quite work. Despite a strong cast,the script and particularly the direction, are " clunky". There are too many cliches in the script and the relationships between the characters are unbelievable. The charismatic Penry-Jones and the marvellous Phil Davis, are really up against it in their brave attempts to give some realism to their lines. The scenes in the police station made me cringe! This combined with camerawork, which is far too self-conscious , and the tediously repeated shots and images, undermines the dramatic potential of the piece. Presumably the "fancy" style was a deliberate attempt to add mood and atmosphere and get over the potential censorship problems inherent in the piece - but for this viewer it failed. Still we watched it through 'till the end and found it just about okay. Let's hope season two shows an improvement. The digital transfer and sound are totally adequate and as was the bargain price of the set.
His career on the line? For fastidious posh D.I. Chandler, this 2008 London East End posting was intended to be a brief stepping-stone to fast track promotion. Instead everything has gone wrong. A serial killer is on the loose, gruesomely replicating Jack the Ripper's crimes of exactly one hundred and twenty years earlier. Superiors demand quick results. The media labels him incompetent and bays for his blood. The original Ripper was never caught. What hope this time round, Chandler with subordinates so uncouth, disrespectful and smelly....
Much impresses. Whilst an excellent drama in its own right, there is a fascinating look at those original murders. Dripping with atmosphere, the series is further enhanced by strong scripts and great performances. As Chandler, Rupert Penry-Jones gains sympathy as one out of his depth but rising to the formidable challenges. Phil Davis, as ever, is superb - he here abrasive D.S. Miles, cop of the old school. Steve Pemberton shines as the quirky Ripperologist, for twenty years an authority on the subject. Is he a hindrance or a help? Surely he is not playing games and be the one they seek?
Only three episodes. An interesting thirty minute bonus feature. Here cast speak about their characters, creators describe research done to get Ripper details right. (Apparently there are surprisingly many Ripperologists around, probably eager to pounce on any mistakes.)
So much is so good, it does not surprise three seasons were to follow.
If Jack the Ripper committed his murders in the 21st century, would modern detectives, backed up by forensic science and CCTV fare any better than their Victorian predecessors?
DI Joe Chandler (Rupert Perry-Jones) is an inexperienced officer who is being fast-tracked to a top job at the Yard. When a PCSO finds the butchered body of woman in London's East End, it looks like an open and shut case of domestic violence. Senior officers decide that it is also an ideal opportunity for Chandler to enhance his CV and he is put in charge of the investigation, to the annoyance of the experienced detectives who make up his new team.
Unfortunately, the chief suspect has a cast iron alibi and the team are back at square one when Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton) arrives on their doorstep with the theory that the murder is a copycat killing based the activities of Jack the Ripper. Buchan, a "Ripperologist", is written off as a crank until the next murder ...
"Whitechapel" starts slowly, but then builds into an intriguing mystery with the twist that the police know the date and time of the next murder as history is repeated. This is a good solid police drama with dark undertones. Perry-Jones is excellent and there are strong supporting performances from Steve Pemberton as the Ripperologist and Phil Miles as the crusty DS who has to knock the wet-behind-the-ears DI into shape.
on 17 February 2009
I was excited about the release of "Whitechapel" and as a Ripperologist, I couldn't wait to see what they had done with the 120 year old mystery.
The series delivers on every level, from a great cast, to some gruesome special effects, wonderful locations, and some nod's to several notable people involved with the case in one form or another.
From the off we are treated to a murder which leaves the hot shot DI and his wise, but angry DS at a loss to explain who or why. This soon spirals out of control when a "Ripperologist", played excellently by Steve Pemberton, turns up, to inform them it's a "Jack the Ripper" copycat! More bodies, blood, and a kidney show up, a ripper letter, and more suspects are thrown into the frame, whilst the murder squad struggle to dress and eat properly, never mind find the killer.
We are taken on a rollercoaster ride, where relationships develop, and people's perceptions of one another change, whilst trying to overcome their differences, and work together.
The final part is a tour de force, throwing up more suspects, clues, and a race against the clock to stop the final murder in the gruesome series. Will "Jack" strike again, but more importantly, who is he?
If you missed the show on TV, this is your chance to catch up!
I was a little disapointed with the extras, just one short documentary, and hoped for more, given the amount of material available on the murders, but as a show, it got my approval.
on 30 March 2010
This TV programme is about a Jack the Ripper copycat killer and whether it would be easier to catch the killer this time round. Along with this you have 2 different types of detective: the old school detective who has worked his way up through the ranks and his younger boss who has been fast tracked thanks to a university education.
I liked Phil Davis' performance but although I found Rupert Penry-Jones attractive I didn't think much of his performance. I found there was not much depth to his character. Steve Pemberton is very good as a ripperologist and I liked the way his character was a hindrance as much as a help in the case.
Although I like crime dramas and have a certain fascination for the Ripper murders I found this program rather unsatisfying. There is a large build up to whether or not they will catch the killer and whether they will be able to prevent any of the murders but I found the end was a bit of a let down. I understand what they were trying to convey about the murderer but after the build up all I thought was "is that it?".