In his review of episode 1, John Crace of the Guardian suggested that Whitechapel (Mondays 9:00pm ITV1) was best watched on autopilot while you’re actually doing something else. So I thought I’d watch and blog about it simultaneously – saves a lot of time.
This is the first series of Whitechapel I’ve encountered, supposing the previous ones were poor imitations of either Sherlock Holmes or The Long Firm and completely missing the point. The stories are actually new versions of crimes that took place in ye olde London towne. So we’re bang up to date with mobile phones and computer databases aplenty.
The biggest surprise was the attempt at lightheartedness. Not so much out and out guffawing, but a definite nod towards light entertainment. Definitely unexpected given the number of grisly blood-soaked corpses on display. Nothing wrong with a bit of gallows humour to lighten the mood – but no one manages to pull it off. Perhaps a bigger writing team with someone brought in specifically for gags might help.
The whole thing trolls along pretty much as you’d expect for an ITV Monday night drama, slightly wooden, expository dialogue, a-ha moments of revelation when a clue is discovered. Then comes the second surprise – Morse! The young Endeavour pops up at one point with a decidedly dodgy generic northern accent (Liverpool maybe?). Now that’s just plain wrong – maybe he’s got a hard-working agent, but how can you expect the great British viewing public to accept Shaun Evans as the young Morse, then have him appear over halfway through another cop show as a minor character (called Sly ferevanssake!). Not right at all. Surely there are enough actors out there desperate for work to ensure that never happens. It’s bad enough swallowing Rupert Penry-Jones as a ruthless barrister in Silk AND an upright workaholic DI in Whitechapel.
The extra narrative drive provided by the boffin in the basement is a welcome distraction from the plodding plot, but I’m not sure anyone really buys his investment of time and energy (not to mention depleted Vitamin D) for nothing more than ‘tea and biscuits’ (he’s not even afforded any glory – at least not in episode 1).
And then the third surprise – no spoilers here – but a comedian turns up complete with demonic laugh. Oh very dear.
Much as I’d like to be positive about any UK crime drama, I can’t really give this one the thumbs up. I don’t expect accuracy in terms of police shifts, investigation team hierarchy or even structure of the Met, but YELLOW police tape?
All that said, the opening titles rock – everything looks good in super 8.
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