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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Tue, Sep 18, 2007 9:17pm

“Jekyll” is a special kind of show – one that uses great storytelling and acting in service of what is essentially a clever and mesmerizing genre romp. This is just wonderful, unpretentious stuff. This is more what I hoped “Torchwood” would be like, actually.

Wed, Sep 19, 2007 9:54pm

I find *Jekyll* to be very much like *Torchwood,* actually. It could be one long TW episode…

Sat, Sep 22, 2007 8:42am

“Jekyll” is good, but Hyde doesn’t seem to be quite the great character as I hoped. Nesbitt is great, but the Hyde character in Jekyll seems more of a swooning playboy than the ruthless, sinister person that we come to know. I mean, if the Hyde alter-ego was really sinister, he would have gone on a relentless killing spree, and would have killed Dr. Jackman’s psychiatric nurse and his family within the first few episodes because Hyde uses his own animal instincts and doesn’t care about anybody.

Sat, Sep 22, 2007 8:50am

Hey, MaryAnn, speaking of adaptation, there’s a good couple of classic BBC DVD releases of sci-fi/horror adaptations coming out in the US. One is the 1977 BBC adaptation of Count Dracula with Louis Jourdan in the title role and the great Frank Finlay as Van Helsing and full of great eerie, creepy 70’s atmosphere.

The other is the 1981 adaptation of John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, which is produced by Blake’s 7 producer and Doctor Who director David Maloney and stars John Duttine and Maurice Colbourne(Lytton from “Resurrection of the Daleks” and “Attack of the Cybermen”). The triffids effects are very dated, but the post-apocalyptic drama is great tense stuff and noone does convincing, awesome social collapse quite like the BBC did back then.

The 1977 BBC version of Count Dracula comes out next week while the 1981 BBC version of Day of the Triffids comes out in November.

Sat, Sep 22, 2007 4:11pm

I’ve already seen the Dracula and will post a review next week. I’ve never seen the *Triffids* one, though — I’ll be on the lookout for that.