Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review - "Jekyll"

Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbitt) suffers from an unusual form of split personality. Unexpectedly, he may change into someone he's not proud of - someone far more dangerous - someone who calls himself Mr. Hyde. As Jackman tries to control his evil alter-ego, he discovers he may be the only living decedent of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a Scottish doctor alive in the Victorian Era. The only problem is Jekyll was a fictional character created by Robert Louis Stevenson - or was he?

Sherlock Holmes was not the only character to be pulled out of the Victorian Era by Steven Moffat and dropped in the modern world. A six-part series airing in 2007, "Jekyll" is akin to Moffat's work on "Sherlock" as it feels as though it were a pet project, quite close to his heart. The idea for the show is excellent and the execution of the character in the modern setting is well done. Jackman is a true split personality. He does not require a potion like the Jekyll of Stevenson's novella to change into Hyde - it happens all by itself. This is probably the script's most original idea - surely not its only original idea however. But more on that later. Of course, a good actor is needed to pull off the part - or should I say parts - of Jackman and Hyde. Luckily, James Nesbitt is a good actor, nay James Nesbitt is a great actor. He pulls off the part so well. This Jackman is a true study of melancholy while Hyde is one of the most convincing and greatest performances I have ever seen on television or on film. Nesbitt looks like he's having a ball playing the part of Hyde.

The fact that James Nesbitt seems to be on top of the world playing the character goes a long way to making Hyde such a likable guy - despite the fact that he beats a man senseless before presumably killing him in the first episode and doing so again later on. Hyde is horrible and funny - sometimes all at once, so kudos to Moffat for the brilliant writing and Nesbitt for the acting. The fact that Hyde is such an intriguing character is one of the script's other most interesting ideas. However, the cast for "Jekyll" aren't all as top-notch as Nesbitt. Gina Bellman who plays Jackman's wife is not very convincing and is brought down by some incredibly stilted dialogue throughout. Denis Lawson, who plays Jackman's friend Peter, who has a secret agenda of his own, isn't very convincing either, and at times appears to be sleep-walking through the part. Luckily, actresses Meera Syal, Michelle Ryan and Fenella Woolgar all turn in fine performances - and coincidentally all three have appeared in Doctor Who.

While Steven Moffat's script is good for the most part, it is not without fault. In my opinion, the series' first two episodes are the show's best, wonderfully setting up the principle characters. Thereafter, the story quickly turns into less of a horror story and more of an adventure and conspiracy thriller with sci-fi thrown in for good measure. I won't spoil anything for you, but the episodes makes the already incredible story far less likely to happen. The last episode in particular, seems like Moffat didn't quite know how to end the series and tried to use every possible ending imaginable. Sorry Mr. Moffat - you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Overall, "Jekyll" is a good series. If you're a fan of Stevenson's original story, you'll find this a nice homage and follow-up. James Nesbitt is brilliant as Jackman and Hyde, but things are let down a bit by a jumbled plot. I give "Jekyll" 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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