Rookie Dectective Inspector Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) is put in charge of a cynical and hard boiled squad of dectives in London's east end. With the first case under Chandler's watch a copycat of the Jack the Ripper murders that took place in the same place over a hundred years ago, Whitechapel creates an interesting tension between a historical mystery and a present terror. It questions our need to create stories and narratives in an apathetic time. Are we missing something because we're unwilling to let go of a unsolved mystery? Stuck between those who believe these murders are random and a Ripperologist Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton) who's convinced that they may be able to catch the Ripper this time, Chandler is stuck between a rock and a mounting pile of dead women.
|Whitechapel District circa 1888|
Initially it is Miles (Phil Davies) a hardened detective on that leads the insurrection against Chandler, believing he doesn't know what the job actually entails. “Every time there’s a stabbing in Whitechapel they come crawling out of the woodwork,” Miles says. “I hate Ripperologists.” While frantically trying to solve the murders as they unfold in the same timeline as a hundred years ago the tensions within the squad build until Chandler finally admonishes his team with “haven’t you heard of showers?” he yells at his tormenters, who are slobs. “Or irons?” Then he adds: “Get yourselves organized. Self-discipline. Self-respect. Deodorant.” I don't think you can have moments of real darkness without real levity. That's what life has and that's what Whitechapel is consistently able to find.
While we may never know who the real Jack the Ripper does, Whitechapel creates a fascinating portrait of a series of murders and the obsession they cause. Balancing atmosphere with black humour, Whitechapel is one of the best detective series out there and if you're curious and can find it here.
|Ripper graffiti found in present day Whitechapel|