Those of us unlucky enough to be on the American side of the pond are still waiting patiently for BBC America to bust out Season Two of Ripper Street. We haven’t seen Reid, Drake, and Captain Jackson (or are we calling him Judge now?) in almost a year, and the suspense is driving us mad. Try as we might to avoid spoilers, anyone on the Internets is likely to see our UK buddies posting “just one thing, it’s not a “big” spoiler, don’t worry,” ten or twelve times a week. I was eagerly avoiding Ripper Street spoilers when I started getting Emails telling me that the show has been cancelled after Series Two. Ripper Street cancelled?!? This will not stand.
Not having seen any of the second season, I don’t know if we’ll get a proper ending or something more cliff-hangey. In my experience, BBC shows tend not to do cliff-hanger series finales because they don’t always know whether or not they’re coming back for another season. But this isn’t always true. Hearing that the show is ending was sad news indeed. But here’s the thing: It’s totally possible to get cancelled shows back on the air. Ren & Stimpy, Arrested Development, Futurama, and Family Guy are just a few shows that came roaring back when fans demanded it. This happens in the UK as well, since Primeval came back after cancellation. If you think about it, so did Doctor Who. Pressure brought by fans and sponsors can and should resurrect shows that deserve it, and I firmly believe that Ripper Street is one such show. Why? Good question.
Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen from Three Musketeers) is unlike any other cop on TV. He’s in touch with his anger and his emotional side but these things don’t rule him. True, a lot of TV police officers are angry people dealing with difficult pasts, but Reid’s estrangement with his wife is beautifully and subtly played. The Reids disagree but are both well intentioned and sincerely trying to move forward after the kind of tragedy that would have ended most couples in a matter of weeks. Despite a fervent belief in the law, Inspector Reid has not lost his humanity or his empathy for the common man, the poor, and even all those toffers.
Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn, AKA Ser Bronn of the Blackwater) is an equally unique character. He can be damn brutal, yet surprisingly and earnestly vulnerable. His unrequited love for Rose is as touching as it is heartbreaking. It’s an odd thing that a police sergeant wants to marry a prostitute in the first place—and odder still that she refuses because she doesn’t think he can provide for her in the way she wants. Rose honestly believes that some rich man will come along to make her wealthy and secure. Imagine it—this was over 100 years before Pretty Woman. The point is that Drake is far from stereotypical, and wonderful to watch.
The biggest surprise of the first season was easily Captain Jackson, who we now know is named Matthew Judge (Adam Rothenberg, who has also appeared on Law & Order, House, Elementary and Person of Interest). We wondered all season what was up with this drunken sexy beast and his unusual relationship with the local Madame. I’m not sure any of us could have suspected the truth. I’m still pretty shocked by it. The gruff American Jackson/Judge turned out to be a fascinating character—especially since we expected him to be one thing and he turned out to be something else entirely. Ripper Street was rife with unexpected twists, but I haven’t even mentioned the women!
Mrs. Reid is impeccably portrayed by Amanda Hale. Emily has an amazing combination of drive, poise, and morality while passionately eschewing all bullshit. I love her. Her scenes are few, but damn impactful as she asserts herself without vitriol, and states her boundaries without making threats. Unfortunately, Edmund finds reason to stray from Emily. Deborah Goren is a hardworking, no nonsense lady who runs the Jewish orphanage. She provides a safe place for Reid during his darkest times, and then sends him away when she realizes the depth of his devotion to Emily. She’s beautifully played by Lucy Cohu.
The local Madame turns out to be full of surprises. Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) is another tough chick who knows her way around a man, a business, and a city that shuns women like her. Turns out, there’s much more to her than that—there would have to be to maintain the interest of Captain Jackson. Susan treats her girls well, and we get to know a few of them. Rose Erskine (Charlene McKenna) is the star of the house, is a lovely young woman just waiting for the right man to sweep her off her feet. It almost gets her killed a couple of times, but some people have to learn the hard way. Despite her many mistakes, we grow to like Rose.
Then there’s the adorable Hobbes, the quippy Arthurton, and the ever-dickish newspaperman, Fred Best (Whoops, I originally said “Fred West” Serial killers on the brain, I guess) to round out the impressive cast. Let us not forget the beautiful costumes, and week after week of intense violence, evocative writing, and everything else fans have come to love about the show. What we didn’t love were all those headlines saying “Ripper Street Cancelled.” Those will NOT stand.
With that in mind, it certainly seems like The Beeb should know enough to hang on to this winner. Since they don’t appear to realize what they have, it’s up to fans to remind them. To support the effort to UnCancel Ripper Street, sign the petition at Change dot Org. Share it with your friends, your enemies, family, co workers, and anyone who asks you for anything. Ripper Street returns to BBC America on February 22nd, and I’ll be here reviewing each episode right here on GeekBinge.
See you then!