Ripper Street (2012)

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Released 25-Sep-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Interviews-Cast & Crew-Walking Whitechapel (12:29)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 468:00 (Case: 480)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andy Wilson
Tom Shankland
Colm McCarthy
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Matthew MacFadyen
Jerome Flynn
Adam Rothenberg
David Wilmot
Jonathan Barnwell
MyAnna Buring
Amanda Hale
Charlene McKenna
David Dawson
Lucy Cohu
Clive Russell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Dominik Scherrer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Ripper Street is a BBC television series set in London's Whitechapel district after the last of the Jack the Ripper killings in 1889. We, the audience, know that the terror of the 'Whitechapel Murderer' or ‘Leather Apron' was over after the fifth murder, for history tells us so, but the residents of Whitechapel live with very real fear in every one of these eight episodes in the debut season of this historical-based drama.

     The series in fact begins with an introduction to the 'Jack the Ripper' murders. Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) and American surgeon Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), the pathologist, stumble upon a possible sixth victim but they come to the conclusion that it's most probably a copycat murder, and hence begin to investigate finding the real murderer.

     We get introduced to 19th-century London themes and issues quickly, with corruption, bureaucracy, poverty and prejudice easily evident, not to mention the fact that no-one deep down knows what to think of a foreign member on the police team, even if he is American. As Jack the Ripper's victims were prostitutes, we also get a brothel madam as a lead character (MyAnna Buring).

     Ripper Street is well written by creator Richard Warlow, contains macabre plotlines at times, and will most likely have you hooked as the later episodes in the series focus on the back story of the three main characters. In the meantime you'll get a look at pornography in the late 19th century, underage street crime, anti-Semitism and the exploitation of poorer classes which borders on slavery.

     Ripper Street was shot in Dublin, and this works well as Dublin provides locations that can be changed to resemble 19th Century London. You quickly become convinced that clever computer graphics imaging must have been used for background scenes, with many extras and shots of factories, warehouses and government buildings realistically recreated. There are shots of the Thames River, parks and docks here too, so the world of Ripper Street is varied and detailed.

     A short synopsis of each episode is below. All eight episodes are 58 to 60 minutes in length.

     Season 1 Episode 1 - I Need Light (59:01)

     When the body of violinist Maude Thwaites is found it bears all the hallmarks of a Ripper killing. However, an autopsy by Jackson suggests it is a copy-cat killing. Despite opposition from journalist Fred Best (David Dawson) and Inspector Frederick Abberline (Clive Russell), Detective Inspector Reid and his team enter into the world of Sir Arthur Donaldson (Mark Dexter), a pioneer in early photographic pornography and producer/star of one of the first 'snuff films', after discovering motion film of Thwaites being strangled. The investigation becomes more urgent when it is discovered that Donaldson purchased the services of Rose (who had already appeared in risqué photos) and another prostitute.

     Season 1 Episode 2 - In My Protection (58:46)

     Ernest Manby (David Coon), a 63-year-old toy maker is found beaten to death. George Lusk (Michael Smiley) and the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee claim that 14-year-old Thomas Gower (Giacomo Mancini) is responsible. Reid's conscience is challenged by a radical lawyer Eagles (Hugh O'Conor), a friend and confidant of Reid's wife, and orphanage governess Deborah Goren (Lucy Cohu), and it leads to Gower being put under the protection of Reid. Jackson’s drinking and gambling have led to the loss of the ring that ties him and Long Susan to their American past. The two events lead to the death of Eagles and a dangerous task for Long Susan to recover the ring from a gambling den run by Carmichael (Joe Gilgun) who uses his vicious child gang to attack Miss Goren’s orphanage to kill Gower sheltering there with Reid and Drake, the location having been given up by Jackson when he and Long Susan are captured by Carmichael.

     Season 1 Episode 3 - The King Came Calling (58:48)

     Fear of the return of "King" cholera joins Whitechapel's H Division and the independent City of London police forces amid the panic. Captain Jackson's autopsy discounts cholera and indicates St Anthony's Fire caused by wilful contamination of food in both boroughs. Inspector Sydney Ressler (Patrick Baladi) joins Reid’s team as they scour Whitechapel for clues and connections of five dead City of London workers that include transvestism and homosexuality. Reid's wife seeks patronage for her charity efforts and is rebuffed and succumbs to the same illness seeing her dead daughter in her delirium. As Jackson’s lab fills with bodies, and with no clear connection between the victims to be found, the team work against the clock to find some underlying pattern amidst the rising tide of sickness and death.

     Season 1 Episode 4 - The Good of This City (58:09)

     The clearing of a Whitechapel slum for the underground railway by progressive councillor Stanley J. Bone (Paul McGann) of the new LCC reveals a murder scene of two bodies, two young children in an adjoining room and an unreliable girl witness. Lucy Eames (Emma Rigby), a beautiful, disturbed, three months pregnant former 16 year old prostitute at Long Susan's brothel, is the centre of a complex web of conspiracy which involves benevolent Dr. Karl Crabb (Anton Lesser), a leading psychiatrist specialising in lobotomies. Reid discovers one killer is someone he knows and the mystery children are taken from the safety of Miss Goren's (Lucy Cohu) orphanage as Reid closes in on a solution that leads to corruption and abuse by seemingly respectable individuals.

     Season 1 Episode 5 - The Weight of One Man's Heart (58:49)

     A military style robbery is a puzzle to Detective Inspector Reid when the stolen gems are returned save for one blue sapphire. Drake's heart has fallen for Rose, and he hopes for a life with her, despite warnings from Reid and Jackson. She, however, has dreams of being an actress. Drake is confronted with his past when his former commanding officer during the Mahdist War, Colonel Madoc Faulkner (Iain Glen) returns to London to seek compensation for the 'unjust' treatment of the British army's soldiers by planning an audacious robbery of the Royal Mint, requiring Drake's help to gain entry. Reid closes in on the robbers and Drake finds his loyalties put to the test.

     Season 1 Episode 6 - Tournament of Shadows (58:36)

     With the London Dock Strike of 1889 leading to protests in the streets of London, the killing of Jewish anarchist Joshua Bloom (Ferdinand Kingsley) in a bomb explosion and the wrecking of the International Working Men's Club in Berner Street sees Reid and the team fighting international terrorism lead by Russian spy Peter Morris (Peter Ferdinando). Jackson, using his Pinkerton experience, goes undercover to infiltrate the strikers but Reid is warned off the case by Commissioner James Monro (Michael McElhatton) and Superintendent Constantine (Derek Riddell) of Special Branch who seems to have prior knowledge of Morris' activities, Jackson's past and Reid's daughter's death. When his wife tells Reid to clear their daughter Matilda's bedroom, he opens up to Miss Goren (Lucy Cohu), telling her of the circumstances of how he received burns to his body when his daughter disappeared, and stating that he believes she is still alive.

     Season 1 Episode 7 - A Man of My Company (58:46)

     An international shipping magnate, Theodore P Swift (Ian McElhinney), arrives in London with his Pinkerton retinue to complete the acquisition of an ailing London shipping line. The leader of the visiting Pinkerton clan, Frank Goodnight (Edoardo Ballerini), badly wants to find Captain Homer Jackson. Jackson, however, doesn’t wish to be found. Meanwhile the murdered body of an engineer, inventor of a new ship's engine that could save the ailing company, draws Reid's attention just as Jackson and Long Susan's past comes back to haunt them. Reid's investigation of the engineer's wife, (Shauna Macdonald), has disastrous results for Constable Hobbs and Goodnight's handiwork places Jackson under the suspicion of Inspector Abberline when a prostitute is murdered.

     Season 1 Episode 8 - What Use Our Work? (58:06)

     Reid is adrift and his team in pieces and Leman Street is shaken to its foundations following recent events. With Abberline convinced that Jackson is The Ripper, the captain is in custody and facing the death penalty. Reid is convinced of Jackson's innocence, and brings in Joseph Lavender (Linal Haft) who had seen The Ripper with one of his victims the previous year, but Lavender proves not to be the key to Jackson's release from custody. Reid seeks solace with Miss Goren and Drake with Bella, one of Long Susan's girls. Rose leaves the brothel to stay at Mrs Reid's shelter and, through a newspaper lonely hearts page, she seeks out a wealthy husband. When Rose disappears, Reid and Drake suspect that a white slavery ring is operating in their midst, with previous Ripper suspect, Victor Silver (David Oakes), at its head. Reid reveals Silver was one of the missing victims from the boat accident that he and his daughter were on. Silver is assisted in his work by his sister Clara (Ruta Gedmintas) and brother Barnaby (Kristian Nairn). Jackson is eventually given the chance to prove to everyone (most importantly Abberline) that he is not Jack the Ripper. Reid, Drake and Jackson are left free to continue cleaning up the streets of Whitechapel.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Ripper Street is a joint BBC/BBC America production that, like most BBC television shows nowadays, was shot digitally using Arri Alexa cameras.

     The aspect ratio is 1:78:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions, which is the modern aspect ratio for television shows.

     This eight-part series is split into 3 discs for DVD. The first disc contains three episodes with an average bitrate of 5.65 m/b per sec. The second disc also contains three episodes with a similar bitrate; 5.59 m/b per sec. The third disc has the final two episodes and is higher in bitrate; 7.85 m/b per sec.

     The colour has been desaturated to match the look of the 19th century English period the series is set in. This would have been done in post-production. Shadow detail is good however, scenes in the dark still can be discerned easily. Greys, blacks and browns dominate this 'natural-looking' transfer.

     There are no noise or compression issues evident.

     Optional subtitles are provided in English, in white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Despite only including a 2.0 audio track, the audio transfer includes decent stereo effects across the front channels.

     The main audio track for each episode is an English Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 track encoded at 192 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised.

     Dominik Scherrer has composed a colonial music score, with the main theme repeated throughout and dominated by a fiddle.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Walking Whitechapel (12:29)

     This is a behind-the-scenes look at the premise of the show, the characters and the shooting of the series. Scenes from the eight episodes are interspersed amongst short comments from the main cast and crew. The idea of leaving behind Jack the Ripper and developing a police thriller in an historical context was the main appeal for the producers of the show.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States and Region 2 United Kingdom DVD releases were made available in March, 2013. They both contain a 50-minute documentary on Jack the Ripper and three other short electronic press kit extras totalling about 11 minutes in length. In my opinion, the documentary is not worth the option of bypassing the local release for Region 4 fans of the television series.

Summary

    You know this is a winner when the BBC had already commissioned a second season before shooting the first episode! With a metacritic rating of 72 out of 100, Ripper Street should maintain your interest throughout this first season. Hopefully, the second season, due in late 2013/early 2014, lives up to the hype of the first.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, September 09, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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