Of Course, Tuesday Night's Big News
Something happened, if the Bear can just remember it... oh yeah!
It was an exciting but sad evening as we watched the season 4 finale of BBC's Ripper Street on Amazon U.K. To heck with waiting for it to be released to the colonies at some duke's whim or whatever. We were enthralled with seasons 1, 2. and 3, available on Amazon Prime. But in order to see season 4, clever Bear had to take out a free 30-day trial Prime membership with Amazon U.K.
He also made it look like his computer was in Great Britain somewhere.
Since's he's already a paying Prime member here in the U.S., he figures no harm no foul. Besides, are we going to let the British start pushing us around again? Now they're depriving us of our favorite show; next we'll have Redcoats in the spare bedroom.
CSI: Victorian London
Ripper Street is a gritty period peace set in Whitechapel after Jack the Ripper. The focus is on the police and their work, not shadowy figures stalking doxies in foggy alleyways. Victorian England seems to bring a new invention or police procedure every week to the dogged and melancholy Inspector Reid, and the tragic and haunted Sergeant Drake.
There's always a grisly murder or few to solve every week. A rough-edged American surgeon, Captain Jackson, with a shady past and a Colt strapped beneath his arm could justify the show being called CSI: Victorian London. "There's this here Frenchman who says everybody's fingerprints are different," he might observe, then solve the murder.
His wife, Long Susan, runs a high-class brothel, and they apparently hate each other. Captain Jackson can't keep his hand out of the cookie jar, and Susan tolerates it coldly. (One wonders how he stays current reading the latest developments in forensics, since he always seems to be drunk, high, or, you know, the brothel.)
Excellent Writing Keeps Viewers Deliciously Off-Balance
But these characters never stand still among their relationships. Mostly they seem to tolerate each other out of mutual need, but you never know when a surprising act of loyalty, or respect, or even love might flare like a match in the the sooty Whitechapel alleys. Each season brings significant changes, both personally and professionally. The writers are not afraid to challenge the likability of the main characters. Police work is depicted as brutal, and the ends justify the means. But it takes its toll on Reid and Drake. There are few, if any, happy endings in Whitechapel. Indeed, a theme is how none of the characters seem to be able to break their personal chains to it.
The writing and acting are top notch. Characters are given wonderful dialogue that rings true to the period. On the other hand, there are the barely understandable denizens of the Whitechapel rookeries.
Shot in Dublin, care is lavished on every aspect of the production. Amazon is picking up the tab after BBC canceled it after season 2. Amazon's money is all there on the screen.
If there's one gripe, it's the topical nature of some of the episodes. Okay, this is the homosexual episode. Now here's the immigration episode. Now the contraception episode. Get it? They had these issues back then, too, and the more enlightened characters held the right opinions. That doesn't make the episodes any less good, but may stimulate the eye-rolling reflex in some.
Ripper Street gets a five fish rating, as BBC's very best period piece. Warnings: It is pretty gory and violent. It has a very small amount of partial nudity in a few episodes. It is definitely morally ambivalent, and prim Inspector Reid does seem to have an impulsive weakness for the opposite sex. The consequences of moral decisions are considered, however.
Wait, the Bear wasn't going to write about Ripper Street. He was going to write about the election! Well, too late now. Maybe next time.