Friday, October 25, 2013

'Ripper Street' Series 2 Episode 1 spoiler-free review

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 16:56
Florence Vincent

In the opening moments of ‘Pure As The Driven’, a policeman is hurled through the first floor window of an East London building and impaled on the iron railings below, and - BAM! - just like that we’re back in the grimy, gritty, glorious action of BBC One’s Victorian crime drama Ripper Street. Meaning, in other words, that it’s time to reach for the smelling salts.

Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and his cronies Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) and Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) are soon on the case of the impaled bobby, and before long they find themselves in the heart of London’s Chinatown, in search of mysterious beauty Blush Pang. Before the hour is out there has been the discovery of lies, corruption, murder, and a dangerous new drug that looks set to flood London. Oh, and the Elephant Man has popped up for good measure as well.

Not quite as rigorously compelling or charmingly over-the-top as the best episodes of Series 1, ‘Pure As The Driven’ is nonetheless a strong opener, giving us plenty of fun with the Story of the Week and establishing solid series-long strands.

Bennet has a new wife and Jackson is ensconced with Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) once again (with both happy marriages look set for trouble), whilst neither Reid’s wife Emily nor Miss Goren are anywhere to be seen. An enigmatic conversation with Long Susan leads us to believe Reid is up to something untoward, but – as expected – we don’t get many answers in this opening episode.

Despite the rough and tumble approach, there’s a wit and elegance to proceedings. The costumes and sets are brilliant, as is the period dialogue and thrillingly vivid slang. And there’s also the sense that this is a show that wants to give us a bit of everything.


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