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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

Jekyll (review)

Talk about a dark side. Tom Jackman is the only living descendant of Dr. Henry Jekyll and his evil, conscienceless alter ego, Mr. Hyde, about whom Robert Louis Stevenson had so much to say. Or so we’re slow to learn — or be misled into believing, maybe — as this British miniseries unravels over the six one-hour episodes that aired on the BBC and BBC America in summer 2007. Half deeply disturbing and ooky, half goofy and cheesy in the most deliciously pulpy way, this is TV of a caliber that we rarely get to enjoy on American television, which simply does not know how to deal with a story that needs to be told over a short, closed-ended run. Irish actor James Nesbitt (The Boys & Girl from County Clare) so totally transforms himself, sans CGI or heavy-duty makeup, from the mild-mannered Jackman to the wicked, vicious “Hyde,” for the latter’s rampages of sex, violence, alcohol, and all that fun, that he steals the show, but there is, delightfully, plenty else to enjoy. Like the underlying menace of the mysterious secret organization that’s trailing Jackman/Hyde for it own nefarious purposes. Is it all a big metaphor for the ennui of the modern man, beset on all sides by the demands of family and career and desiring an escape? Or is it just an excuse for some sly horror comedy from writer-creator Stephen Moffat — Hugo-winning scriptwriter for Doctor Who — that riffs on classic Victorian literature (you try finding your car when your evil dark side won’t tell you where he left it, or working out a bodyshare schedule)? Does it matter? Extras include a making-of, audio commentary, and more. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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