The streets of Whitechapel are awash with blood. A murderer stalks the night, picking off vulnerable women and leaving them brutally butchered. The locals live in fear and the police remain clueless - with no motive, no evidence and no hope of catching this barbaric killer. Assigned to the case is fast-tracked DI Chandler - a novice in the business of murder, an expert in the politics of policing and three day courses. His fellow officers, however, are anything but. Chief among them is DS Miles, the archetypal cynical, seen-it-all detective. Tipped-off by "Ripperologist" Edward Buchan, Chandler realizes that this modern day killer is copying the infamous Whitechapel murders, down to the very last detail. Can Chandler do what his fellow officers failed to do over 100 years before, and catch the person responsible?
MI-5's dashing Rupert Penry-Jones heads up this noirish ITV miniseries, which aired in the United States on BBC America. In the opener, his fastidious Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler arrives in London's working-class Whitechapel, site of Jack the Ripper's 19th-century rampage, to head up a murder inquiry. Detective Ray Miles (Philip Davis), a hard-bitten veteran, is none too happy to report to such a posh fellow, but Chandler gives the case his all, making the rest of the team look like slackers. After the first brutal killing, Edward Buchan (Steve Pemberton), a local Ripperologist, suggests that the culprit may be a copycat. Chandler's colleagues scoff at the suggestion until the second murder, at which point they get on board, reading up on the Ripper, questioning suspects, and doing their utmost to prevent three more potential deaths. They also clean up their act and start wearing suits, but a leak threatens the investigation. As the case continues, they narrow their focus to immediate associates, especially after the murderer takes out a comrade and sends Miles a bloody memento. And though the men, including McCormack (George Rossi) and Kent (Sam Stockman), now resemble real detectives, Chandler appears to be on the verge of collapse, but looks can be deceiving. The conclusion blends the actual past with the fictional present, offering some of the same grim fascination as James Ellroy's Black Dahlia, which also took inspiration from an unsolved murder. History buffs are likely to appreciate the attention to detail, though the crime-scene sequences are gorier than anything in the BBC's thematically similar Sherlock, in which Davis previously appeared. An exhaustive featurette allows the cast and crew, including director S.J. Clarkson (Life on Mars), to discuss the origins of the project. --Kathleen C. Fennessy