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Steven Moffat's JEKYLL


Chase - Posted on 28 November 2009

1

When I first heard that there was going to be a new version of DR JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE or rather THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, I think I might have rolled my eyes or yawned. After all, if any story has been done to death it is THAT one. I held off on getting the series, watching the series, collecting the series until today. Yep. Today. I heard how great it was a few years ago (one? two?) from, well, everyone who watched it. So I bought it and didn't watch it. I hedged on it. Then I heard again how great it was. So I watched ep1 today.

James Nesbitt, I know he's been in other things but really...where did this great actor come from? He is great as both Dr. Jackman (our modern day Jekyll and supposedly as yet NOT a descendant of Jekyll---but the next ep says he is but can't be?huh?) and the unnamed alter ego who finds out he is named Mr. Hyde in the first ep. I know Gina Bellman from LEVERAGE these days and loved her in that and of course she plays the wife of Tom Jackman. I know Michelle Ryan from firstly MERLIN season one as a GREAT villianess. And PLANET OF THE DEAD, which I've warmed too and even warmed to her character in that. And as a pregnant lesbian, well played, the lady that played Agatha Christie in the giant bee ep of DOCTOR WHO. I've seen some of the others in other places, too but can't recall such as Denis Lawson (possibly HEX or SEA OF SOULS?). The cast is all great to be honest.

The story builds here and starts off...well, really really slow. There is snappy dialog though and that keeps things interesting as we know where this story is headed and...we're wrong, somewhat. The background is sketchy but I'm hoping there will be more answers as we do go on with the series. There are two sets of people following around Jackman, who seems to be on sabbatical from his job and his boss wants him back. Jackman is keeping the fact that he has a wife and children from ...well, we can call him Hyde now. As Hyde we supposedly get some of the humor of the show but truth is that this show has little to no humor aside from Jackman's turning into Hyde and seeing the difference. I still don't know if Billy in the alley is dead or not. And I care. Nesbitt makes you care for Jackman, even though Hyde is more likable in a way but in another way Hyde is dreadfully disgusting.

One of the things that is curious direction is the slap happy way of filming some of the scenes of Hyde. We get that old, old shakey heady thing way of filming, fast movements, super speeded up film, etc and it just doesn't work. I don't feel that ever works. It makes things laughable and this show didn't need that. Fortunately, it doesn't stop the premise from working. As Nesbitt sits and listens, as Jackman, to the two lesbians talking about Hyde, he, suddenly becomes Hyde just sitting there. This show NEEDS THAT KIND OF SCENE. THAT was scary and disturbing as the shadows envelop this man who just found out he has a family...and what will he do?

The clever things done here are many: one are having Michelle Ryan be a somewhat of a lab assistant, helper, watcher of Mr. Hyde who also has both Hyde and Jackman's best interests at heart. She feels Hyde should know of his family. The other thing is having some great big organization after Hyde or watching him and Jackman. This could go ssoo SO wrong though as big organizations might. If the first half is slow moving and not boring but building, the nthe second half delivers as Hyde shows off for the men following him, climbs a building, changes at will whereever and whenever he feels like it, seems to kill a kid in an alley or maybe not?, and then finds out about his family and gives them a first time visit, posing as Tom's cousin! WOW. Truly tense and adult with adult language and some mild sex and a bit of blood here and there. I wasn't sure what Jackman was going to find when he went to his childrens' room. It's a stunning move to give Jackman a family that he kept secret from Hyde and to have Hyde find out in the very first ep. It gives us much to admire and then to look forward to.

A couple of things don't add up: why would the woman helping them need her door totally locked up when earlier Hyde just falls into the apartment/home that Jackman keeps him locked in...or not. How can she protect herself from him when he's loose? How does Jackman get Hyde in the chair? What exactly is their arrangement? How does Hyde stick to it? Or why does Jackman? Why does Hyde not use less force as Jackman wanted him to? Some of it just doesn't make sense but maybe we will find out more later. If Hyde changes from stress or at will, how does Jackman think he'll stick to a schedule?

None of that bad stuff can detract from this series, the dialog, the script, the premise. It truly takes the best of JEKYLL AND HYDE although I did notice that Hyde climbs similar to the Hyde in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. I also noticed that Frederic March, possibly the best HYDE was not mentioned in the run down of the movies that the black man told Hyde about.

A very good start to what promises to be a very good show.              

2

Wow! Didn't expect any of that! I kind of knew that his friend/boss was in on the organization and the "trust no one" was wearing a bit thin but this is a terrific episode. There's a lot more humor here but also wide eye opening sequences. Poor Jackman. Tom can't even spend a night alone or a morning wondering who Jackman is seeing. I wasn't sure and still am not sure if he's seeing that woman who is supposed to be the "next best thing they have to a mother" but I guess it was supposed to be her. The first part of the ep is a terrifying haunting by Hyde of Katherine (Michelle Ryan) and here we are thinking she deserves it...does she? The entire zoo sequence is just amazing and the scary black van has multiplied. Didn't expect others to start seeing Hyde when Jackman was "out" and/or having Hyde talk to Jackman while both were awake, one of the side effects of the drug that someone close to Jackman was giving him! And didn't see the old lady coming at the hosptial. Also didn't expect Jackman to make the choice he made concerning big Christopher Brown. A truly amazing episode, topping the first in drama, tension, and even yes, humor. Hyde's powers are growing and almost every line of this story is needed, every scene. Ther'e is no waste here. In short a ten out of ten! 

3

Yet another amazing ep. Really mean of Moffat to make us think that the body being taken out was Claire but it was really Benjamin. Both Benjimin and that Peter "friend" "boss" are atypical villains. They don't really rant and rave although Benjimin can at times border on it. Peter is the most funny, being very humorous, sarcastic, quippy, but in an understated way and he's almost polite while betraying his friends. He's great. The dialog is great and this ep is as different from 1 and 2 as it can be, having an almost FUGITIVE feel to it. It's also the ep where we see if Hyde will cross the line; where Hyde meets Claire, who's gusty to say the least; and where Peter shows his...uhm, hand and stomach (well not really but almost). Not sure I followed where that key actually went. I also think the only miscalculation on this ep is that almost last scene where Hyde howls at the moon whle standing on a tree branch. Most over the top and unneeded in a show like this especially since Hyde went almost...no OVER the top as he left the cellar threatening anyone to dared to harm Claire. It's also the ep where we see that Hyde will stick up for Jackman's or does he thnk it's  his? Family. Really well done and suspenseful and just riveting.   

 

4

Loads of great lines. Great dialog. The PI uses a great way to get into the organization, the company rather. Her partner/lover Min has some of the best and funniest lines. Here, Katherine meets Claire and we get the theory that Jackman is cloned, which is said to be false. Could he be Hyde's offspring then? No one finds out for sure. What we do get is more of Moffat's shifting around in time, back story. We find out when Jackman began to change, how Claire and he met, Hyde's first attack, Tom and Claire's most humiliating moment (and it is an uncomfortable scene but we know that despite the ugly offensive attack from the motor cycle teen and his gang, that Hyde will get his own back on him or all of them--he seems only to get the leader later on); we get how Tom and Claire first met, etc etc and NONE of it is boring. It's all very interesting and eye opening. I love Claire's use of Peter's constant catch phrase, "Sorry about the coffee" after she throws hot coffee in his face...he wants Hyde, Hyde is the company's. Not sure where her children are; earlier she said they had been taken. We also get Tom's first video where he meets Bill (or rather Hyde) and Hyde is a real creep saying things like, "Are you my daddy?"  and "Coming to get you daddy" which of course mimick Moffat's DOCTOR WHO episode THE EMPTY CHILD as such. Well, okay in previous episodes or rather the last one we got, "Run! Run for your life!" and Tom brandishing a big knife and saying, "Fantastic" in either Italian or French. And it's all good. The cliffhanger is almost too much to bear. Will it be Tom pretending to be Hyde? Hyde pretending to be Tom? Tom or Hyde? Claire is gusty in this and I hope all four female leads make it out of this alive.

Another great ep. I can't get enough of this show!     

5

It appears Steven Moffat has written himself into  a few corners. Claire and her twin sons are in a helicopter with the biggest bitch in history villainess; our other three female heroines are facing a firing squad when the lights go out thanks to Hyde trying to drain the city for energy to bring back Tom---and what will HE DO?---then the trio run into the woods pursued by the soldiers; and Tom is back and on the roof with Peter and more soldiers telling Peter to send his boss a message that "we are back."  What?

A tense episode that sees me thinking Hyde really wants to kill Claire and the two sons Harry and Eddie! Then he does the child thing. Hyde gets a bit too...I don't know, childish here instead of menacing but he's also somewhat scary, too. Lots of tense moments here and well written but how are they going to get out of this? I guess that's why Moffat is the writer.

Some of this might be pushing the format. We also see the original Dr Jekyll and briefly Hyde as well as ALice, the maid he was in love with that made him weak in an effort to make us (successfully) think Hyde will kill Claire because she makes him weak. There's also Mark Gatiss's turn as Robert Louis Stevenson and he's okay I guess.

Again, a pretty good episode and Min gets most of the good lines but Hyde and Claire also get plenty, too.

One thing about this series: it just CAN'T be boring!     

6

Wow! Didn't see that coming!!!! That ending! First of all, I kept wondernig if the kids were going to be monsters too or Hydes when they came out but it turns out the much bandied about "next step of human evolution" IS just like The Tomorrow People, who used that term all the time when Harry and Eddie swap places in their science box coffins. Other things are signposted ahead but so much else happens in between, we forget and then wham: we're hit with the explanation that then makes sense as we've been told before and it all works. I must admit I sort of got sick of being told that Tom was not a direct descendant of Jekyll but he was a Jekyll or a Hyde in that case and the ending sort of makes sense of that but they said it so many times. I also wondered if that "mother" figure was actually a ghost as was debated ever so briefly in an earlier ep or if she was a Tomorrow Person figure, too that could leap in and out of places like teleportation or jaunting as the TP call it. Then we get hit with that truly shocker ending. I wonder what Steve Moffat was planning to do with a next season. I mean it can't end with that ending being Tom getting killed by that horrid woman. I So didn't see that coming at all. That ending does make sense though. So does Tom being separated from Hyde, who took the bullets for him. If any show besides STRANGE deserved to stay on, it was this show (and SEA OF SOULS too to be honest). Too bad this show is gone forever though. IT was a good show and totally addictive.      

One level of criticism you might have against this ep in particular is that it gets so far off the Mr. Hyde story and more into the realm of telepathic terror and THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. I mean at one point Hyde is getting inside people's heads and scaring them off; at another he's fending off bullets like Superman, well  not quite but ...it's very removed from the Jekyll and Hyde story. I don't mind that but I can see where it sort of loses its way in the end. Even so the finale is a good one and satisfying...and shocking 

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