Brit Picks: “Jekyll”

Written by Sarah Townsend October 06, 2011

“Trust me, I’m a psychopath!” – Hyde

“Jekyll” is a miniseries that played on BBC One in 2007.  Written by Steven Moffatt, it is both an adaptation of and a sequel to the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story.  The Jekyll and Hyde story is used as a back story within the series and is then expanded upon as the series develops.  This time, Jekyll is Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbitt), a family and career man living in present day England.

But all is not well. When we meet Jackman he has suddenly left his wife Claire (Gina Bellman) and twin sons of very opposing personalities without any explanation.  As it turns out, Jackman is attempting to protect his family from his own newly discovered opposing personality who has named himself, you guessed it: Mr. Hyde.

Dr. Jackman and Mr. Hyde

Mr. Hyde is looked after by the young and attractive psychiatric nurse Katherine Reimer (Michelle Ryan), hired by Jackman to keep Hyde out of trouble.  Jackman’s physical transformation into Hyde, is only minimal, with Hyde appearing slightly younger, taller and leaner.  However, Hyde is nothing like the calm and level headed Jackman.  Hyde is childish, passionate, clever and dangerous and uses this to his advantage; convincing Reimer that keeping Jackman’s secrets from him isn’t fair unless she agrees to also keep his secrets from Jackman in exchange for her own safety.  Jackman and Hyde communicate through a recorder kept in their pockets as one is unable to remember what the other has done.  As Jackman lays down rules for Hyde and attempts to keep his marriage and family a secret from his dangerous alter ego, Hyde runs rampant through the streets doing whatever the hell he feels like, and it isn’t good.

As if this isn’t complicated enough, it seems as though poor Jackman is being followed by both a private investigator, Miranda (Meera Syal) hired by his wife, as well as an unknown third party in a black van.  Nothing in ‘Jekyll’ is as it first appears and as the mysterious third party begins searching for Jackman and Hyde’s origins, Jackman races to discover his true identity as well, having been adopted as a baby.  As all parties get closer the truth, Jackman discovers that his secret isn’t just something that he can’t Hyde anymore, but that doing so endangers the lives of his wife and sons as well.

Claire Jackman defending herself

James Nesbitt is extraordinary as Jackman and Hyde, playing both the same man and two drastically different figures with very little help from makeup. His Jackman is reserved and gentle except when his family is threatened and this is when it is clear just how deeply he loves them.  His Hyde is at once amusing and horrifying to watch as he dances around doing whatever he wants, regardless of the damage caused.

Jekyll is a suspenseful, dramatic, witty and entertaining viewing experience with a phenomenal plot.  I’ve watched all six episodes at least 3 times now and I discover a previously unnoticed foreshadowing detail or clever line of dialogue upon each viewing.  The series is told in a comprehensive set of fragments that flow neatly but also keep the viewer, and Jackman guessing until the last scene.

Don't make Hyde angry.

I highly, highly recommend viewing, if not purchasing ‘Jekyll’.  ‘Jekyll’ is composed of six, one hour episodes and is available on DVD in Canada.

 My Rating: 10/10

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About Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend: Senior Television Editor of We Eat Films and writer of the Brit Picks column. A fourth year English and History student at UWO, future plans include travelling with the Doctor in his TARDIS whenever he finds me. I'm still waiting...

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