Reviewed By Ross Hughes
Its a clear case of why Steven Moffat is the most talented writer on British Television…….
For my birthday this week I was given a DVD of the new updated Sherlock, a television show that for me is one of the best shows to grace the BBC in many of years. The success of the show was mostly down to one man Steven Moffat whose Blink, and The Girl In The Fireplace episodes of Doctor Who made him stand out from the early success of everything Who. His creative talent and wonderful writing made the Who universe actually scary again and his evitable move to the lead writer of the show as finally made the Doctor all things cool again and in particular his casting of Matt Smith that makes nearly all new viewers and old want to run out and buy Bow Ties while wearing a Fez!.
Sherlock is another master class that frustrated the viewers for only being three episodes long even though we all wait with eager breath for the new episodes to be shown later this year.. It was while I was rewatching this that my eyes glanced across my horror collection and Jekyll caught my eye. Having only seen it once and remembering being blown away by it all, I decided to revisit it and for one day this week I watched all six episodes back to back. That was not my intention, I had better things to do than sit in front of a TV set for six hours, but once you start watching Jekyll its impossible to give it up and its a clear case of why Steven Moffat is the most talented writer on British Television.
Shown in 2007, the title of course tells you that this is a modern update of the old Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde tale, but its never been told in this way before. There is no magic potion on offer here, this is a twisty tale that entertains you more than you could wish, and that is probably to do with James Nesbitt who relishes his dual role and is clearly having the most fun he has ever had in his career. Here he plays Tom Jackman who from the off we know something is wrong. There is no slow build up here, Moffat wastes no time by jumping straight into the story as we see Jackman strapping himself to a chair while telling his newly hired psychiatric nurse Katherine Reimer (Michelle Ryan) the rules of what to do and how to handle what she is going to see. Its an highly addictive start, we are thrown into this nightmare world and the pace is relentless. Jackman changes into Hyde with no need of any drink. He feels the change coming along and quickly follows his own rules, takes off the wedding ring as he does not want his Hyde to know he is married with twins to the lovely Claire (Gina Bellman) and also leaves a message to his alter ego by use of a dictaphone. In this version Hyde has super strength but is more of a child than any monster. He loves the drink and the women and does not really care for the instructions left by this person who he calls his “daddy!”. The transformation is quite cool, there are no false teeth and red eyes, we see Jackman change by the simple use of darker hair and black eyes and while that sounds dull written here, it works perfectly especially as Nesbitt gets the dual role right.. Its a subtle change but you can see the dark side emerge from Hyde and while the opening episode is just a set up, Hyde goes from child to something really sinister and dark very quickly.
What Moffat does so well is that he does not ignore the roots of the story. Jekyll is more of a sequel to the original tale, where we even see flashbacks to the the original Dr Jekyll and his meeting with Robert Louis Stevenson the author of the infamous book. Its touches like this that make this adaption one of the best around and the whole plot feel inventive and fresh.
While his wife Claire is worried about her husband’s unexplained absence from the family home, she hires a private eye Miranda (Meera Syal) to follow Tom around. This leads to Tom wondering why is this black van following him all the time, but the two plots collide in amazing fashion and we realise that there is something a lot bigger out there waiting for Hyde, a plan that has been waiting for over 100 years to come to its conclusion.
Like The Truman Show, Tom realises that most of his life is a lie, his research into his condition brings out secrets that he really wish he did not know and all answers lead to an organisation who want Hyde and will stop at nothing to get him. Hyde himself is getting stronger by each passing day with Tom unable to fight the urge to change and when the unthinkable happens and Hyde discovers his “family!” the plot turns dark with twists that will leave you in awe.
Jekyll is one of the most underrated TV shows of recent times. Each episode grips you from the start and many leaves a cliff-hanger that demands you to watch the next! Its funny and dark and has some wonderful set pieces (The Zoo moment, the trapped in the wine cellar), are two that stand out. The score of the entire show is fantastic with the pounding music gripping you at times more than the action on screen, and with Mofatt on writing duties the script sizzles. There is one moment of fantastic writing when Hyde somehow ends up seeing the original Jekyll change and says “He is no Spencer Tracy!” which shows the respect this has for the source material.
There is a great supprting cast as well with Patterson Joseph has Benjamin and Denis Lawson two faced Syme, both stealing the scenes they are in, while Bellman as his wife may be underused in the first episodes, plays a pivotal role has the plot develops. The show goes from different genres in each passing episode, from comedy, to the weird to down right action with a hint of horror, Jekyll has everything you want and need.
The sad thing is that the plot is so rich with many threads and with so much twists that a season two was a must. The final sting in the tail is a belter, the last scene will have you gobsmacked by the ingenious twist that really makes you pine for another. The fact there is not going to be, is one of the reasons why Jekyll is a must see watch that will leave you shaking your head in frustration, but being such a fantastic joy, it really is worth the disappointment!…..
OVERALL: Only a £5 to buy, this is a must for all Moffat fans, it has everything a good TV show needs and Nesbitt is simply brillient. Jekyll is a must for all lovers of everything weird and great!
[pt-filmtitle]Jekyll Series 1[/pt-filmtitle]