Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Good cop shows where you don't expect them

If you're not watching BBC's Ripper Street, you should be.
I don't have much time or tolerance for the BBC's weak offerings these days, but I'll almost forgive them for continuing to inflict the increasingly dire Silent Witness on licence payers in exchange for their efforts in bringing us Ripper Street. It's become a must-see even in the face of hideous deadlines.

Ripper Street is entertaining, it's relevant, it actually has very good historical context, it's beautifully cast, and it's full of grey-area characters. It's living proof of how the B list cast of history (real or otherwise) and the secondary story are way more interesting to explore than the headline ones. Yes, I know I would say that, wouldn't I, but I think that's where compelling stories lie -- in the untold tale and the forgotten characters, rather than in endlessly rehashing the decaying remains of the visible and done-to-death. I won't deconstruct it here. Just dive in and immerse in it, and you'll see what I mean.

If you're a writer, you'll know that feeling when you see something well-crafted and enviably complete. I look at Ripper Street much as I looked at Life On Mars or Eternal Law -- that I would have died happy if I'd written it. I can see the strings and admire its construction from the professional side, but it can also make me forget that I can see all that and allow me to simply savour it like a regular viewer. That's the test of quality for me.

If you're not glued to it already, seek it out and enjoy.