Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Jekyll? More Like Hyde and Seek!

I'll bet you can't guess what this show is about! Oops, you're wrong, it's not a modern adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde: it's a sequel. The clever conceit of this Steven Moffat series is that Robert Louis Stevenson's book was not mere fiction.

We pick up a century or so later with Dr. Tom Jackman, who has a very familiar condition. He's hired a hot Michelle Ryan-shaped psychiatric nurse to help him manage his changes, which he and his alter ego have a system for—the pilot skips over the origin story and drops us in years after Hyde emerged, using the nurse as an audience surrogate to explain what's going on. Jackman has a wife (played by Gina Bellman, who initially appears to be wasted until her part becomes meatier later on in the series) and twin sons. He's mild-mannered, but a bit addled. His alter ego—unnamed, but we know what to call him—is, of course, pure id. Things get very complicated for Dr. Jackman when he discovers that he is being followed by interested parties that include two Doctor Who guest stars and Paterson Joseph, rumored to have been a frontrunner for the Eleventh Doctor. But thank goodness Moffat didn't choose him, because I found his bizarre speaking pattern and manic acting extremely annoying. I liked all the other characters, but him I couldn't stand.

James Nesbitt is fantastic as Jackman and Hyde, making them so distinct it's hard to believe they're played by the same actor. You can tell which character he is just by looking at him or hearing one word (Hyde has a much more pronounced Scottish Northern Irish accent, it seems). His portrayal of Hyde is gleefully over-the-top (and some directing tricks enhance the effect), and it's sometimes a bit too much, but it's so goddamn fun while still being appropriately menacing. And yet he still makes Jackman more than a milquetoast foil, someone we can really root for even though he's not as fun as Hyde.

Because the series is only six episodes, each episode moves the story along at a swift pace, with no filler, and shit gets real pretty quickly. And then shit gets a bit bonkers, as Moffat takes the story in a more sci-fi direction (which is only appropriate, since the original story was old-school science fiction, really). The finale has some great surprises and wraps things up pretty nicely while still leaving room open for the second season that never was.

With elements of horror and sci-fi and a healthy dose of non-linear storytelling, Jekyll is well worth checking out, and it's easy to do so on Netflix Instant. Even if some of it's a little hard to swallow, it does a lot of interesting things with the concept, and it's consistently exciting and compelling.

Trust me, I'm a psychopath.
Tags: jekyll, new show squee, tv
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