Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Ripper Street' Returns to BBC America for an Unexpected Third Season What to Do

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Ripper Street' Returns to BBC America for an Unexpected Third Season What to Do

Article excerpt

"Ripper Street," the richly drawn, historical police drama set in 1894 Victorian London, returns at 10 tonight to BBC America with eight new episodes.

Set among the grimy, crime-ridden streets of Whitechapel, the show follows the policemen of H Division, led by Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), as they struggle not only with everyday crime but the aftermath of the one crime that made their area notorious: Jack the Ripper's killing spree.

The linchpin event of this season is a train wreck that kills 55 men, women and children.

All the main characters - Reid, the American doctor Capt. Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and Reid's former Detective Sgt. Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) - have moved on in the four years since season two.

Drake went to work in Manchester and returns to Whitechapel an inspector. Jackson now runs a small doctor's office. His estranged wife, Susan Hart, (MyAnna Buring) has set up a hospital for women.

Reid still runs the Division but has retreated into his growing forensic library and away from his men. He's far more brittle than in earlier seasons - a lost man whose borders are defined by a Victorian rigidity that threatens his sanity.

Then comes the crash at the Whitechapel railroad station, which sets into motion actions and decisions that will sweeps them into new lives, sometimes with devastating effects.

Warning, "Ripper Street" has nudity and sex. It also has gory forensic scenes not unlike modern "CSI" dramas. Season four touches on homosexuality, abortion, sterilization, PTSD, aristocracy, murder and other tragedy.

It is also more devoted to the characters than the crimes. It's their struggles with life in the Victorian world, from dolls to music hall life.

The producer has re-created the feel of the period: women's clothing with tight corsets and rich fabrics, and the awkward menswear including high collars and top hats.

Most importantly, it has the sound of the period. The characters speak in a language half between Shakespeare and modern day.

For example, Hart says to her former husband regarding their brief encounter, "We two like hot and wanton dogs in a Whitechapel gutter."

When faced with financial problems, Hart looks at the masses of paperwork covered with business jargon (things were completely different over a century ago) and says, "For fangs, I may have none but I have a mind and it is sharper, its edge cleaner than any tooth, any blade," as she sets out to understand them.

One of the recurring themes through the episodes is the situation of women, their strengths and their vulnerability in a world run by men who judged them as weak and unimportant. Hart's hospital is a mere pawn to the men around her, even if it is the most important part of the lives of the women who work there and use its facilities. …

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