Jekyll

I finished up watching the BBC series Jekyll last night. I have to tell you, I was a tense ball of worry on the couch during the last episode, occasionally yelling at the t.v. I really liked this series.

It doesn’t give anything away to tell you it’s a modernized retelling of the story of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. But that only touches on the intricacy of the tale. It’s horror, and science fiction, and a supernatural mystery. And, over the course of the six episodes, I found I could not pin the show down as to genre or category. This is important, because I use my understanding of genre to guide my anticipation of what will happen next. When I don’t know what genre I’m in, I don’t know what will happen to the protagonists. Or, in the case of this show, to the adorable small children in danger.

The actors in Jekyll were uniformly amazing. James Nesbitt as Tom Jackman and Hyde was . . . he was shockingly good. Just, incredible. And Gina Bellman as Claire Jackman, Tom Jackman’s wife, was a revelation. I love her in Leverage, and she is good in Coupling, but Bellman’s role in Jekyll is a cut above. What starts as a fairly low-key wife role ends up as a dramatic co-lead in Jekyll‘s ensemble.

A note on that ensemble. Every single character we meet is not what they appear the first time around. Each actor has a meaty part that grows over the episodes. Each character’s depth adds to the richness of the show’s themes. We meet these people over and over and learn more about them every time. By the end, there are no disposable characters, no people we don’t know and care somewhat about.

Jekyll is written by Stephen Moffat. Moffat has written some of the most memorable, chilling, uplifting, wrenching episodes of the new Doctor Who, the episodes I love. Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead — and, of course, he’s the showrunner for the Eleventh Doctor. Sadly for me, a lot of Moffat’s other writing credits are comedies. I really don’t like that many comedies. (I’ve watched the whole first season of the U.K Coupling, and it really didn’t grab me.)

I’m really looking forward to Moffat’s tenure as Doctor Who‘s creative mastermind. Jekyll gives you a good idea why. The show is deeply creepy, it’s sparing with special effects, it’s funny, the characters are three-dimensional and real, and the actors are given both great lines and room to run with them. Jekyll is out on dvd now, and is available through Netflix streaming. If you like the creepy and suspenseful, I highly recommend giving Jekyll a chance.

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