We live in a time when television is littered with detective dramas. The likes of C.S.I and Law and Order rule on both sides of the Atlantic, but it could be argued that Britain is the home of the detective show. Obviously Sherlock Holmes is the ‘granddaddy’ of them all, but Inspector Morse, A Touch of Frost and Midsomer Murders are also television staples in the UK. Then, there is Whitechapel.
The title from Whitechapel originates from the area of London where Jack the Ripper prowled, and each episode follows a pattern of historic murders (on both sides of the Atlantic). This six part series is split into three cases and each case adds a fictional angle on the true-life cases: “The Thames Torso murders, The Zodiac Killer and The Ratcliffe Highway murders.
Stylistically, the show is a cross between Seven and Millennium, and its grim and gothic sets are a nice antidote to the slickness of C.S.I and its many clones. They also offer a certain creepiness that is absent from most current detective tales. While each episode employs a few too many camera tricks, they are visually impressive, and they do add uniqueness to the series which makes it a cut above most British TV detective shows. Whitechapel’s cast featuring Rupert Penry-Jones, Philip Davis, Steve Pemberton give it their all, building unique characters from each and every detective cliché.
Whitechapel may not break the detective mould, but it does add enough colour and style to make it a worthwhile watch.
A few documentaries offer fans a glimpse into the show and its inner-workings. Like the show – solid.