Episode 2 puts the series on a different footing within minutes, announcing the presence of Jimmy and Johnny Kray (Craig Parkinson) -- identical twin brothers conceived using a sperm bank from an original Kray's seed, who are both intent on continuing their father's work. Are you laughing yet?
Crucially, for every moment of Whitechapel that hits (OCD-afflicted Chandler flicking his office light switch on-and-off due to extreme stress), the fact the villains aren't lurking in the shadows, and the idea of police corruption hampering the investigation, I just can't get past the silliness at the heart of series 2. The idea that these modern-day Krays are so starved of originality that they just reenact their ancestor's crimes from the '60s is ludicrous. Craig Parkinson has a good look at the Kray twins (he plays both thanks to visual trickery of debatable quality), but his vibe is all clichéd East End gangster (kissing his poor ol' mum goodbye, eating boiled egg while threatening a copper, etc.)
For me, the concept behind Whitechapel II is so laughable I can't get past it, because the show seems to believe this is a brilliant update of the Krays and a fascinating case to solve. But it's really not. Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Miles (Phil Davis) come across like blithering idiots half the time, the involvement of armchair sleuth Buchan (Steve Pemberton) is tenuous this time, and my fear that Whitechapel was a decent miniseries unwisely brought back feels proven correct. A three-part modern-day Jack The Ripper crime drama with a sense of grisly fun about itself became one of ITV's most enjoyable dramas of recent times... but this attempt to catch lightning twice has missed the bottle. It's too silly to take seriously, but not silly enough to be confident the writers intended it to be that way, which means it comes across as misjudged and dumb.
I'll watch next week's finale and blog about it, but only because the series at least has the sense not to drag on for 6 weeks or more.
- What happened to Casenove (Peter Serafinowicz) this week? He only got a few scenes, despite being introduced as a major player in the story. Also, why didn't he reveal the existence of Jimmy/Johnny Kray last week? That might have really helped!
- I think another reason this series isn't working for me that, simply put, I have less knowledge and interest in the Krays than Jack The Ripper, and I daresay I'm not alone. There was fun to be had in watching series 1's copycat duplicate The Ripper's crimes, but because I know so little about the Krays, the crimes in series 2 carry no deeper meaning or significance for me. I feel like Chandler, Miles and Buchan are getting very anxious and astonished by similarities that just don't speak to me in the same way.
WRITERS: Ben Court & Caroline Ip
DIRECTOR: David Evans
GUEST CAST: Sam Stockman, Ben Bishop, George Rossi, Craig Parkinson, Peter Serafinowicz, Steve Nicolson, Claire Rushbrook, Christopher Fulford, Daniel Percival, Chrissie Cotterill, Robert Putt, Nicholas Blane, Richard Clifford, David Mumeni, Martin Turner, Lacey Bond, Charlie Covell, Luing Andrews & Colin Campbell
TRANSMISSION: 18 October 2010 – ITV1/HD, 9PM