The Brits Do It Right

Over the holidays I made a discovery. A few months ago it was suggested to me that I might like a television show called Whitechapel. Well in the last few days, while recovering from my Christmas sugar induced coma, I finally gave it a try. I’m hooked.

As a writer and a police officer I love a good cop show, and ever since watching reruns of Adam-12, Barney Miller, and yes C.H.I.P.S. as a kid, I am always on the hunt for a great police drama. Lately it has been mostly been a fruitless quest. Television today struggles with anything resembling drama. Oh hell, it just plain sucks. From what I can see American television is intent on “reality” shows and the quick fix action scene. To hell with drama and character development, let’s just shoot our guns and blow some shit up!

Thank God (I can hear Paul Revere turning over in his grave) for the British! The Brits, from what I occasionally get to see on BBC America, are still producing shows that are engaging and worth watching. Whitechapel, as they say, is brilliant.

I have only seen the three episodes of season one, which premiered in 2009, and was blown away. Rupert Penry-Jones and Philip Davis lead a cast of disheveled homicide detectives assigned to London’s Whitechapel district. The season focuses on an investigation of a Jack the Ripper copycat killer reenacting ever tiny detail of the notorious serial killer’s murders perpetrated in Victorian London.

Whitechapel is full of conflict. In addition to a madman running around London committing unspeakable crimes, the cast is put at odds with Penry-Jones’ character joining their unit as a quick stepping stone to his fast track career. Tensions between the hardened career homicide squad and the posh temp Division Inspector (DI) on his way up the ladder of police bureaucracy build as blood runs in the back alleys of Whitechapel.

Hollywood could do worse than take a lesson in Drama from our British cousins. Whitechapel sucked me in as fast as some of my favorite novels. My only complaint with the first season is that it was so short that we don’t really get to know the detectives apart from the DI and Detective Sergeant Miles played by Davis. I am hoping that the other detectives will be fleshed out a little more in future episodes.

To all my fellow drama sleuths out there. Sound off and let me know what your favorite cop shows are. I am especially interested if it is something that is ongoing. With Whitechapel seasons being so short, I know I will need a good murder investigation fix in the near future.


One Response to “The Brits Do It Right”

  1. I’ve never seen Whitechapel. I’ll try to check it out. I do have an interest in that area of London, after working round there for a few years.

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