Ripper Street: 1.03 - The King Came Calling

Another week on Ripper Street, and if Victorian post-Ripper London didn't look shitty enough already, this episode everyone has cholera and the poo is running in the streets. Or do they?

Yes, you might have mistaken this for a crime drama, but they're turning medical on us, with added personal touch as Inspector Reid's wife Emily gets her biggest role yet: dying victim. Was it any good? SPOILERS obviously - check it out on iPlayer if you haven't seen it.

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CSI: Whitechapel - Reid Takes Off His Hat Every Week?

Y'know how olden-days shows present relationships and such in a familar modern-esque way to make us feel at home? Well, here we see the now-familiar rivalry between different area policemen, intercut with a little Banking District snobbery towards lowly Whitechapel, as Reid tries to persuade another inspector not to tag his case onto the Ripper for the sake of it.

Which, of course, plays back into the central theme, as the poisoner responsible was trying to make his name by racking up an even bigger body count than old Jack.

But in general, this outing finally hit what (I think) the show has been trying to do for a couple of weeks: a modern cop show in Victorian settings. The backdrop and language might be old school, but the style is pure nowadays. This is basically CSI: Whitechapel, and I thoroughly expect them to invent the mobile phone a few decades early simply to complete this comparison. If you like steampunk, this is trying to do some, whilst remaining "plausible".

That isn't a criticism, by the way: this was another good episode, whistled along from start to finish and when it was over, I was shocked it had been a whole hour. Yes, imperilling the lead inspector's wife to add tension and angst was predictable, but it did wring good moments out of Macfadyen.

The Cholera Coincidence

Not many sidekick revelations this week, all far too busy with the disease crisis, but everyone remained in character, and some of the oneliners it threw up were great. Personal favourite: "Allow me to introduce my surgeon. He is... American." Excellent.

If I had to complain, I'd say the poisoner's boss just happening to be Mrs Reid's benefactor was a little contrived, and this only a week after the equally fortunate revelation that Captain Jackson just happened to lose his ring to the bloke who turned out to be the main villain. They shouldn't start leaning on those every episode, really.

But that aside, another good week on Ripper Street. Pulling out the crisis card is always a good way of producing an energetic episode. I look forward to seeing what happens next time, when things slow back down.

Ripper Street airs Sundays at 9PM on BBC One. More info on the BBC Ripper Street site, whole series to date still available on iPlayer. Do not lick the cholera.

Last updated: 31/05/2018 03:37:39

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