Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Ripper Street"

On the flight from NYC to Hong Kong, I watched the first season of Ripper Street, the BBC's crime drama set in 1880s London. It's like a pumped up version of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes but without Sherlock and Watson doing the sleuthing and the stories being more relevant to today than Victorian England (thought that may have been the point -- to show there's nothing new under the sun). Plot points are raised and tossed aside. The reality of how people would have behaved at the time is ignored. But it's all about the pacing...and the stories do move.

One of my least-favorite British actors, Matthew Macfadyen, heads it in his "male-model" style. That man's inability to act added to the catastrophe of Joe Brown's take on Pride and Prejudice. Think I'm being harsh? Compare his work as Arthur Clennan on Little Dorritt with that of Russell Tovey as John Chivery. Clennan is supposed to be the perfect man for Dorritt, but Macfadyen is so lacking in charisma and meaning, Russell makes Chivery the better choice for her and throws the whole scheme of the story off. I wanted to strangle the stupid little bitch for refusing his proposal of marriage.

Anyway, the stories deal with mass murder and serial killers and conspiracies and Scotland Yard acting like a Keystone Cops version of MI5 and so on, all of it focused on the male characters and their secrets. They get to do manly things -- drink, play cards, fight, be stout men and brave, and sometimes die. The female characters are madonnas or whores (with one tossed-aside exception). Very much a men's club.

Production values were good. London looked perfectly vile and diseased, for the time, and the clothes seemed right, but if I hadn't been trapped on an airplane for 15 hours, I wouldn't have finished it. Especially since the Big Reveals of the two male leads' deep dark secrets were pretty tame.

That said, watching something like this helps me. I get a better idea of where my own work can go weak and my own laziness can take over in my writing. It's the mediocre that helps point the way to greatness.

Do I sound insufferable, yet?

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