Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Retro Review: Jekyll


4.5 out of 5 stars

The North American television viewer suffers the disadvantage of not always having access to the finer small screen events from across the pond. The art of the television mini-series hasn’t been properly displayed since the 1980’s when we were treated to such sprawling epics like Shogun, The Thorn Birds & Roots. Thankfully our friends at the BBC still know how to get the job done.
Having first aired in 2007, Jekyll is the story of Dr. Tom Jackman a clinical psychiatrist with a dark secret. He is the only surviving member of a family whose bloodline can be traced all the way back to the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Tom Jackman is a mild mannered family man who will do whatever it takes to protect his family from his alter ego Mr. Hyde, who quite simply does what he wants, whenever he wants. Using every means at his disposal, Tom Jackman has made a deal with his very own devil, allowing his alter ego his decadent ways in order to buy himself time to find a way to keep Hyde under wraps for good. That deal begins to fall apart when a secret organizations century old plans for Jackman/Hyde begin to come together, with dangerous results for all.

This story works as either a retelling of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel or as an innovative sequel to that very book. Series creator Steven Moffat (previously of some notable Dr. Who episodes and the hit comedy Coupling) has crafted an immaculately balanced script that brings psychological thrills, dark comedy and some genuinely creepy moments. Not a single moment out of place for 6 straight hours, this is Moffat’s masterstroke.

The excellent ensemble cast hinges on the fantastic performance of James Nesbitt in the title role. Nesbitt truly dives into the role, making Jackman a nervous yet still exciting, emotional wreck of a man, while bringing Hyde that perfect combination of sexy, sly and sinister. His smile alone could charm and scare the pants off of you all at the same time. His performance is reminiscent of Jack Nicholson & Heath Ledger’s iconic turns as the Joker in the various Batman films.