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‘Ripper’ sheds light on Scotland Yard

Matthew Macfadyen stars as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid “Ripper Street” BBC America. | AP

Matthew Macfadyen stars as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid in “Ripper Street” on BBC America. | AP

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PASADENA, Calif. — Fans of BBC America’s “Copper” may recognize at least the setup of the network’s new British import, “Ripper Street.”

Set in London’s East End just after Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, “Ripper Street” (8 p.m. Saturdays) features an inspector, Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen, “MI-5”), who gets assistance from Capt. Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), an American expatriate forensics expert.

But where “Copper” is dark and serialized, “Ripper Street,” although still following the investigations of brutal crimes, is somehow lighter and less twisty. The characters don’t have the same elaborate, burdensome backstories.

But thematically — the investigator, aided by a medical expert as they trod cobblestone streets — “Ripper” has undeniable similarities to “Copper,” which was renewed last fall for a second season.

“Ripper Street” is decent enough entertainment that’s most likely to appeal to fans of procedural crime dramas.

At a press conference earlier this month at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, “Ripper Street” executive producer Will Gould said the series is set in a time of great change for police work.

“We’re 10 years away, I think, from Scotland Yard using fingerprinting,” he said. “There’s so many things just out of reach, but so many things they’re experimenting with. ... I always thought one of the most interesting things about Reid was that he was always convinced that if tomorrow’s technology had been here today, they would have got the Ripper. They just didn’t have the resources. They didn’t have the things they needed to get that guy. And that was, obviously, a big kind of cloud hanging over them all.”

“Ripper Street” creator Richard Warlow said the show’s first season features through-lines for the lead characters, but each episode has a stand-alone crime that is solved.

“The whole idea for us setting out on this journey was to really try and actually discard Jack the Ripper, at least in terms of wondering who he was and trying to catch him or any of those things,” Warlow said. “What we wanted to do really was to tell stories about the streets down which he walked and committed his crimes in the wake of those terrible murders, and how it affected the community and, most importantly, the police that tried and failed to catch him.”

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