Ripper Street Broadcast Sunday 30th Dec 21:00
You’ve got to hand it to the BBC they’ve pulled out all the stops on this one. Great lighting, impressive sets and costumes, wonderful photography and enough sideburns to assemble your own woolly mammoth, but something’s not quite right. In fact something smells, not just fishy but putrid and that something is the cast. Staring Mathew Macfadyen, who is best known for having a pole up his backside throughout the first series of Spooks, Jerome Flynn who is best forgotten for crimes against music and Adam Rothenburg who is best known for? Well I give up, what is he best known for? Judging by his performance in this first episode I’m guessing he has an award for Longest Consistent Incomprehensible Mumble in a TV Drama on his mantle piece at home. I could not understand a word he said, was that deliberate? Is it supposed to add to the dramatic tension? Is it? Ripper Street’s desperately in need of some because despite being set just after the famous Jack the Ripper murders, it has all the dramatic clout of a parish newsletter.
Macfadyen’s portrayal of Inspector Reid, the man now in charge of H Division and the Whitechaple district, is so leaden that I had to keep checking that he wasn’t wearing diving boots. Reid’s job is to keep a lid on a recent murder as the local press want to whip up another ‘Ripper’ frenzy but Reid isn’t so quick to draw comparisons and is desperate to gather more evidence before giving in to Chief Inspector Abberline’s conviction that the ‘Ripper’ has returned. That all sounds feasible enough, as TV dramas go, but Macfadyen’s emotionless, posh-boy delivery, Rothenburg’s mumbling and Jerome’s ability to out-stare inanimate objects send the whole thing tumbling down into a pit of indifference. I gave up after half an hour; half an hour of clipped dialogue, American cotton wool drawl and no explanation as to why we started with Reid’s Sergeant, (Jerome,) being involved in a bare knuckle fight at the beginning? I’m guessing it was footage from when Jerome beat the crap out of his agent for landing him in such a kipper.
Whilst Ripper Street looks gorgeous, and it really does, you can polish a turd as much as you want but it’ll still stink.