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BBC America's "Ripper Street": What the Critics Are Saying

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 18, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 18, 2013 |

The premiere of BBC America’s second original televisions series, “Ripper Street” airs tomorrow night (Saturday), and it kind of sneaked up on us. I’d completely forgotten about it, and BBC America didn’t send any advanced screeners for it, so I only caught wind of it by accident.

I am fairly excited for it: Jack the Ripper usually makes for a great source material (and the UK is obsessed with him), and I’m a big fan of the series’ lead, Matthew Macfadyen, who is wooden in all the right ways (also, married to Keely Hawes), as well as Jerome Flynn (Bronn from “Game of Thrones,” and former pop sensation).

Since I can’t offer an advanced review myself, here’s what a few critics are saying about the series. The consensus seems to be that it’s not terribly original, but it’s riveting all the same, thanks to strong writing and great performances.

Part of what makes “Ripper Street” so interesting is that it’s not entirely what you think it would be. The conceit is that the Ripper has disappeared, and now people are making money off the legend, and the press keeps fueling it. The pilot features a murder where it looks like Jack is back, and the immediate worry of Inspector Edmund Reid (Macfadyen) is to contain hysteria until there’s proof. He’s in charge of H Division, where a lot of awful things happen in East London. Trying to mop up the place would get exceedingly more difficult if Jack was back. — THR
It is a cocktail - but it’s a bloody good cocktail. Warlow’s/Leveson’s script is real, alive and human. It’s beautifully performed, and beautiful to look at - stylish, and stylised. The bare-knuckle fight scenes are brutal and memorable. It’s proper, character-based crime drama, gripping, and yes - I’m afraid - ripping as well. — The Guardian
Although not without its flaws, the grim, pay-cable-like series benefits from a strong core cast and appealing look (minus a few glaringly bogus FX shots). Despite a notable dropoff from the first-rate premiere to the so-so second episode, for those drawn to the oft-told Ripper story, this is definitely a “Street” worth visiting. — Variety
“Ripper Street” boasts superb performances, cast and production values, and, beyond the copycat elements, thoughtfully written scripts loaded with surprises and a compellingly complicated moral base: Virtually all the characters are a credible mix of strengths and flaws. There’s nothing terribly original in any of this, but if you go looking for original thinking in any TV series, whether it’s made in the United States or the United Kingdom, you’re quite likely to be disappointed. — SF Gate

Here’s a teaser trailer for the series. We will check in on the series later in its run.