HH and I don’t watch a lot of TV. He gets bored with series pretty fast. He’ll stick it out for a few cooking shows, though, and lately, he’s gotten hooked on a few mystery series. He’ll watch repeats of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple (unlike me, he forgets the big clues and whodunnit) and he likes McDonald and Dodds. Once in a while, I can sneak a Lewis and Hathaway past him, but he really likes White Chapel on Prime.
The first season of White Chapel was pretty grim–a killer who was doing exact copycat murders of Jack the Ripper. Now, I like reading a good Jack the Ripper novel, but I thought HH would call it quits pretty fast. Not true. I was curious what the show would do for season two, since the Jack the Ripper theme was played out. But they went on to another copy cat mystery, this time, something that was more recent in the White Chapel area of England (fictionally).
One of the things HH particularly likes about this TV show is the set-up of a flawed, OCD protagonist who’s made the lead detective over seasoned detectives who think he’s a bother but learn to respect him, as he learns to respect them. It’s a case of two different worlds bumping heads and learning from each other. There’s the wise, world-weary detective who’s seen it all and reluctantly begins to care about the newcomer, and a young detective who’s still pretty idealistic. There’s a detective caught in the crossfire of loyalties, and a detective who bends the rules and ends up demoted. Add to this a man who researches old crimes and can guess what might happen next. It makes for a pretty entertaining mix.
Watching the characters interact and grow makes me think about the people writers use to make great mysteries. Elizabeth George’s Inspector Thomas Lynley is a deeply flawed man who comes from privilege, like the young detective who heads the investigations of his team on White Chapel. Lynley’s partner, Barbara Havers, doesn’t mind pushing the boundaries and often gets in trouble, so stubborn she doesn’t listen to Lynley but proves a perfect complement to him.. And of course, there’s the superintendent who gives Lynley a hard time and sometimes undercuts him. White Chapel uses some of the same staples, but like Elizabeth George, the show makes them work and feel fresh.