Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Whitechapel"

“Whitechapel” is another of a very large crop of quality, modern crime/detective TV shows being produced by the BBC. The story starts out with a season/series long look at a Jack the Ripper copycat, and then tells other stories of crimes being solved informed by the history of crime-fighting cases going back centuries. It is intelligent and suspenseful—even scary at times. However, it manages to convey the violence, gore and intensity of its stories without dulling the viewer through overexposure. There is gruesome stuff here, but most of it is conveyed through suggestion.

Another area where “Whitechapel” differs from the likes of less than subtle American crime drama is, unfortunately, in the worldview being presented. America may indulge special effects and the ability to show more blood than Europe, but it tends to still tell optimistic stories. We still like to believe good can win out over evil. “Whitechapel” has a decidedly darker outlook. The crimes are solved, but usually not in time to save lives. Often the criminals do not really face justice even though they are “found out.” And our main character can’t catch a break in his personal life.

DI Chandler has got to be the loneliest, most trapped in isolation, main character going. That may be the greatest drawback to this show. Other shows like “Luther” may have less atmospheric, interesting cases to face, but the characters are people we can’t get enough of. “Whitechapel” has excellent acting, but the characters themselves are not people with whom we find ourselves wanting to spend our time.

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