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Jekyll review

Steven Moffat reinvents the Robert Louis Stevenson creation

Written by: Steven Moffat

Directed by: Douglas MacKinnon

Rating:

It’s risky taking on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for the Nth time, but Steven Moffat’s pulled it off, taking what’s usually played as a fusty Victorian period piece and spinning it into a pretty slick urban thriller.
He’s thought long and hard about what the realities of life would be for a modern-day Jekyll. The end result is all the delicious business with dictaphones and tracking devices which allow the two sides of Jackman’s personality to co-exist, which brings all manner of witty notions trailing in its wake, like the fact that poor old Jackman is always going to be waking up with prostitutes and a head-splitting hangover.

Since James Nesbitt is TV’s Mr Nice Guy, he’s perfect leftfield casting. His grinning, Joker-ish take on Hyde is unnervingly feral, because you don’t know he’ll do next; he seems to follow whatever thought flashes across his synapses, as liable to play with you as break your neck. The scenes where he insinuates himself into Jackman’s home are utterly chilling, wringing maximum tension out of the possibility that Jackman’s children could die at his own hand.

Ditching the bubbling potions is a smart move, too. Otherwise, this’d be a six episode series with one episode of experimentation leading to a cliffhanger transformation, followed, no doubt, by five episodes of Jekyll rampaging round Soho gutting Eastern European hookers. Shrouding the causes of Jackman’s split identity in mystery keeps us hooked, and (fingers crossed) should do right to the end. All in all, this is a... argh... excuse me... suddenly feeling... ggrrrragghh!

[Drops under the desk, snarling]
Rarrrrgggghhh!
[Emerges looking a bit Teen Wolf]

Why, hello reader. I hope you weren’t actually listening to that prattling idiot. Jekyll and Hyde? Christ, that was old hat by the 1930s, wasn’t it? And if you’re going to do it, don’t fanny about with all these teasing hints of the possibility of violence. Give us some gore! Splash a bit of brain on the walls! Get Mr Yellow Pages to do something really scary, instead of camping about. For starters, he could beat those lesbian detectives to death with a rock, before someone gives them their own series on ITV.

It doesn’t make sense either! If Jackman doesn’t know what he does while he’s Hyde, how did he find out that he becomes taller? How did he learn that Hyde exists at all, in fact? Are we really expected to believe that no-one’s ever bumped into Hyde and said “Oh, hello Jackman, you stuffed shirt - how’s your annoyingly winsome family?” And why does everyone react like Hyde looks completely different when he looks exactly the pigging same ? Wifey should at least think her husband has an identical twin he’s been keeping secret, not leap to the conclusion that he’s a cousin! What b******s!

Ian Berriman

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Available platformsTV