TV Review: Ripper Street - Series Three

Ripper Street, it’s a pleasure to have you back in all your disgusting glory.

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While it’s easy to wonder just how many online streaming services we really need in our lives, there’s no doubt that Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have certainly kicked some series ass over the past year or two. Not only do they represent insanely good value for money compared to buying physical media but both have entered the original programming market with great success. Netflix has delivered a huge hit in House Of Cards, while Amazon has recently entered the comic book arena with Constantine. Both are also willing to take risks with BoJack Horseman and Transparent being two unusual yet creative shows that push the boundaries.

There’s one other fantastic reason for supporting these services and that’s the fact they offer a second chance to shows that may have finished on traditional television networks. We had all but given up on Arrested Development ever coming back but Netflix made it happen. And thanks to Amazon, we are now about to enjoy the resurrection of BBC drama Ripper Street. It’s not unusual for shows to be cancelled - it seems to happen all the time in America - but Ripper Street had a great buzz surrounding it and had the support of fans and critics alike. Sadly the Beeb decided the second series didn’t deliver good enough numbers and that was that. Goodbye to Bennet Drake and company. Or as we now know, it wasn’t quite goodbye but more of a ‘see you later’.

To cut a long story short - social media campaigns, loud voices, a dedicated cast and crew and a company willing to support it all resulted in what we have now, and that’s a miraculous third series of Ripper Street. The gang is back, the show looks and feels exactly how it should, and if anything it’s bigger and better than ever. Have no doubts about it - Amazon and everyone involved have delivered exactly what fans wanted. This is not only the resurrection of Ripper Street but the resurgence, free from the shackles of traditional network rating worries, instead focusing on delivering the best quality across the board. If the double-bill that this third series launches with is anything to go by then this could be the best series yet.

If you’ve never seen Ripper Street then you’ve been missing out. As I’m sure you can gather from the name itself, it’s set around the end of the 1800s in the infamous Jack The Ripper period. In fact, the series started six months after those familiar times, focusing on whether he has returned or not due to a number of new murders. Ripper Street has a gritty authentic feel to it, with a focus on delivering the most accurate portrayal of that time they possibly can. Whether it’s the dialogue or the costumes or the scenery it’s a show that transports you right back to that time. Fans will be pleased to learn that this accuracy and attention to detail has been retained, and if anything it’s been improved. Those behind the scenes clearly have an enthusiasm for their work and a love and care that many other shows could benefit from.

Without spoiling things too much, Series 3 jumps forward four years and picks up where our main characters are in their lives now. As you can imagine, things are a bit splintered with people all over the place, and Whitechapel Terminus works not only as an opening episode for this series but for the show as a whole. It’s a tricky line to tread in trying to appeal to new viewers and old, but the writers manage to do so. You won’t feel like you can’t jump in if you haven’t seen it before, yet fans of old will appreciate how it feels like the show has never been away. The chemistry between Matthew Macfadyen (Detective Reid) and Jerome Flynn (Detective Drake) is as strong as ever, with Adam Rothenberg (Captain Jackson) coming in and stealing the show regularly with some classic dialogue. Ripper Street remains darkly witty as you would expect, and it’s hard to believe any network would want to get rid of a show that maintains such a high quality throughout.

It’s not a series that hits the ground running because there’s so much to cover, and much like the show itself it feels like the characters don’t expect to be reunited. Yet they are and they certainly make the most of it. In a world where crime dramas are as regular as terrible reality shows, Ripper Street’s quality speaks for itself and manages to stand out as a unique and gripping show that deserves your attention from start to finish. It’s also a show that delivers strong female performances from actresses like MyAnna Buring (Long Susan), giving the men a run for their money at every turn. The cast clearly adore the show and believe in it, and that enthusiasm shines through in their performances.

It’s natural to worry about a show coming back, but this is one case where a show was absolutely taken too soon. By the second episode, we’re linked back to earlier series and thrown into emotional turmoil. Yes, it’s not essential to watch the first two series, but your enjoyment and emotional involvement will naturally be far greater if you do. You’d also be missing out on some of the best British drama of the last few years.

Ripper Street, it’s a pleasure to have you back in all your disgusting glory. Now who do we contact to get Firefly back?

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