Whitechapel — 4.0 Gavels 90% Rotten Tomatoes

Move Ripper Street to 2008 and you get Whitechapel. Clearly, this one’s for the boys, as this homicide division has not yet allowed a female into their ranks. Don’t despair as Dr. Caroline Llewellyn, pathologist, helps out the guys from time to time. Det. Sgt. Miles and his crew have been investigating homicides for over twenty years. They don’t have much use for newbies passing through on their way up the ladder. Into the room comes Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler, golden boy for Commander Anderson. In Whitechapel, they don’t mince words.

Just like Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, you have to win over the detectives. Miles prefers that his DI sit in the office while they get on with solving crime. Chandler intends to get his hands dirty, even at the cost of some nausea at crimes scenes and autopsies. The clash inevitably occurs until each gets the begrudging respect of the other. Well-written and handsomely acted, Whitechapel wears well even though over a decade old. Crime is the action, but the interplay of the characters is the drama. I give Whitechapel 4.0 Gavels and it receives a first season 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a very fine overall 7.9/10 IMDb score.

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A fire diverting attention from a murder brings a Ripperologist, Edward Buchan, into the office of the detectives. He describes the victim’s injuries accurately even though not at the scene. DS Miles scoffs as Buchan suggests that a copycat is on the loose and four more murders will soon occur, exactly copying those of Jack the Ripper. DI Chandler is not so skeptical and orders the team to study up on the deaths in 1888. As a pattern emerges, Miles conveys to Chandler, “Congratulations, sir. You get to solve the unsolvable.” Soon, the media hysteria will follow.

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While filming Whitechapel, Rupert Penry-Jones was also starring in Silk, clearly a hot commodity at the time. As Chandler, he presents quite the contrast to the gruff and grizzled, no-nonsense Miles, played by the wonderful Phil Davis (Riviera). Then, add the mousy Buchan (Steve Pemberton) to the triumvirate and you get quality TV.

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Final Thoughts

As Whitechapel recreates the Ripper murders, the show is not for the squeamish. He’s known as The Ripper for a reason. Insightfully, Buchan points out that “a serial killer does not emerge fully formed.” He evolves in his methods. Still, even if Chandler knows when and what is to happen, Whitechapel is a big area to cover.

“Accents, creepy historical crimes, that handsome English actor who always plays princes and posh boys, that less handsome English actor who always plays taxi drivers and oiks. What’s not to like?” Slate

“It’s compelling to watch these disparate men clash and collaborate, even as the suspense level quickly ratchets up with the pursuit of the Ripper copycat.” Common Sense Media

It’s okay, I didn’t know that an oik was an uncouth or obnoxious person, either. Regardless, these boys deserve your attention.

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