Brits do TV right.

Whoever it was on my flist that mentioned enjoying the first episode of Jekyll: THANK YOU.

Okay, yeah, I wrote a novel called Doppelganger; I’m predisposed to like stories in this vein. But still. The British mini-series Jekyll is kind of awesome.

Some of it is standard-issue awesome, if that makes sense: good bits of dialogue, nicely twisty plot, and so on. But there’s also special-order awesome, like the lesbian PI couple, and the general sense that the female characters carry roughly half of the weight of the show, instead of being a couple of tokens running around for variety. I didn’t like Claire at first, and she fell down again a little bit toward the end, but she had a nice stretch in the middle there where she went from plot-fodder wife to an active agent in the plot. And that was very pleasing.

(The other thing that was awesome? I didn’t have to leave my house to make the magic moving pictures come to me. Netflix’s streaming option, via XBox Live, is da bomb.)

So, for those not aware, this is essentially a sequel to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, featuring a modern-day guy named Tom Jackman who’s got more than just your average case of split personality. He’s recently estranged from his wife and children (owing to his fear that his other side might, well, kill and eat them), and he’s being chased around by an evil organization that wants to do god knows what kind of experimentation on him, but there are enough wrenches thrown into that run-of-the-mill setup to keep it quite interesting. If I have one substantive complaint, it’s that I would have liked more than six episodes; I wholeheartedly agree that it’s better off as a mini-series than an ongoing thing, but another two or four episodes would have allowed for more exploration of the very interesting side characters. In particular, the way the opening scene plays made me expect Miss Reimer to have more central of a role, and I was mildly disappointed that she stayed pretty resolutely secondary.

James Nesbitt pulls off the major requirement of a role like this, which is to play a convincing difference between the two personalities. He’s helped along by minor prosthetics — altering his hairline, ears, chin, and eye color, since Hyde is not supposed to look exactly like Jackman — but the important thing is the behavior. David Boreanaz never did it well enough for my taste; Angelus, for me, mostly existed in the dialogue written for him, which Angel would never have spoken. Hyde’s got the dialogue, but he’s also got the change in pitch and tone and especially body language. Hyde moves differently than Jackman does. (He also goes through a pretty wide range of accents, for various reasons.) So props to him.

If you’ve seen this, please flag any spoilers in your comments, since I imagine a lot of people haven’t come across it yet.

0 Responses to “Brits do TV right.”

  1. mastergode

    Jekyll was REALLY awesome, until the very last episode, at which point I felt that it took a severe turn downhill. I’m not giving any spoilers, but I just really didn’t like the direction they took in the end. =

    • Marie Brennan

      The end in general, or the very end-end? I liked the last scene, though I felt it didn’t quite jibe with what Sophia had been saying about Hyde. The final episode in general was not quite as riveting as the rest, but I chalk that mostly up to the fact that it was tying off plot threads rather than complicating them. On the whole, I was still happy with it.

  2. leatherdykeuk

    I loved that series.

  3. kernezelda

    I love Jekyll. There were only two things that I didn’t care for: the very last scene, which I felt somewhat undercut the subtleties in order to throw in a shock scare moment, and the lack of a question that seemed quite obvious to me from the start.

    Apart from that, I enjoyed James Nesbitt’s performance, so much so that I’ve acquired another British series recently solely because of his leading role, though I haven’t yet watched it. I enjoyed the PI’s immensely, both Miranda and Min. And Claire – I really liked her once she began moving, acting rather than reacting.

    This was the first time I’d seen the actress who plays Miss Reimer. She was so sharp and assured (for the most part), that I was amazed and dismayed by her later dismal role on the re-vamped Bionic Woman.

    It was an electrifying series for the most part.

    • Marie Brennan

      The scare moment of it was overdone, yes — but they managed to nail the right balance of me shouting “OH JESUS I SHOULD’VE KNOWN!” right at the instant it became clear. As I said, I think the idea itself slightly undercuts what Sophia said about Hyde, but it’s slight enough that I can forgive it.

      I’m curious which question you’re referring to, that was lacking.

      • kernezelda

        spoiler herein…

        Well, Jackman and the PIs and a couple of others kept wondering how the mutation had persisted over the generations, since Jekyll had no children. And I kept sitting there saying, “But what about Hyde?” Then they finally bring that up as a big reveal. I felt that was either something which I, the audience, wasn’t expected to catch onto, or else it was a blind spot in the creative staff, that they genuinely didn’t think of it, or at least think to have a character think of it. That, and the surprise that Jackman got it from his mom, the old lady/red-haired woman (since it was clear pretty early on that she was a double, just like him, and likely his mother). DNA travels down through both sexes, after all.

        • Marie Brennan

          Re: spoiler herein…

          Oh, that one. Yeah, I called that pretty much as soon as they said Jekyll had no descendants. I guessed that Jackman inherited it from his mother, but what didn’t get was the Sophia/Mrs. Utterson double — that’s the one that hit me only as it happened.

  4. sora_blue

    This is Steven Moffat’s baby, is it not?

  5. cjfringe

    Jeckyll is awesome! Steven Moffat (known also for writing the best episodes of the new Dr. Who – Blink, Girl in the Fireplace, The Silence in the Library) is a fantastic writer. I’m looking forward to him taking the helm of Dr. Who in 2010.

  6. moonandserpent

    Spoiled like rotten milk!

    My favourite moment is of course the “team up” culminating in the whole:

    “There’s not enough power in this compound to bring X back.”

    And then the lights start to go out across London.


    • Marie Brennan

      Re: Spoiled like rotten milk!

      Yeah, that was pretty hawt.

      Also the way that the entire flashback at the beginning of the last ep existed to set up the badassness that followed the lights going out.

  7. d_c_m


    I loved the fact that he killed because he LOVED. He killed to protect his loved ones and family. That totally rocked for me. One day I will own this on DVD.

    And yeah, Claire could have been more interesting. However I loved her line “I might let you watch.”

    Good stuff.

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