Thursday, March 19, 2009

Opinions Unsolicited: Jekyll

Mr. B. and I recently finished watching Jekyll, a six episode mini-series done for the BBC.

After the first episode, which we watched quite some time ago, Mr. B. was disappointed with my assertation that although the show was excellent, it was too intense for me to be willing to watch more than one episode in a night.

We watched the following two episodes over the course of the next week or so. And then [due to outside circumstances] we weren't able to watch anymore for about a month. Just a few nights ago, we watched the fourth episode, and followed it with the fifth and then the sixth, all in successsion. The story was still compelling, but the intensity had diminished enough that I didn't feel the need to follow the show up with something light and fluffy. Mr. B. figured that I'd just had enough time to get used to Mr. Hyde's character, and I grudgingly conceded that might be the case.

And then, I was searching about the intertubes for information about the show - when exactly did it air? Was it available yet on DVD? Were there plans for a second set of episodes? [2007, Yes, and not as far as I can tell even though the DVD is labelled 'Season One']. I also learned that there were two directors for the series, one did the first three episodes, and the other the final three. So perhaps that's what caused the sudden ease in viewing for me.

Either way, I did not enjoy any particular half more than the other; I'm merely noting there was a discernible difference in flavour. As a whole, this is a great story that is resolved well and leaves you [or me, at any rate] with just enough questions to contemplate once you've finished watching.

And then it takes it a mite too far. A smidge. Just a titch.

For my personal tastes, and I'll say this without being spoilery, the show should have ended about fifteen seconds sooner. The subtlety and the suspense that were the main tenets of the series were slapped in the face in those last fifteen seconds. It was a situation where less could have accomplished so much more. It made what should have been an eerie and dramatic revelatory moment kitschy. But that's not a reason to avoid the show, its honestly the only quibble I had. And it truly is the difference that a mere fifteen seconds can make. Mr. B. thinks it might even be fewer seconds. Don't avoid the show because it goes on a single sour breath too long. It's a great show, and deserves your attention.

James Nesbitt's ability to play both the mild-tempered and exhausted Dr. Jackman and the dangerously lascivious and monstrous Hyde is unnerving. Brilliant, but unnerving. In and of itself, that should be enough for most viewers.

The series is not a modern take on Robert Louis Stevenson's tale - its more like a sequel, or a modern tie-in. The show references the story more than once, initially as an ill-received [by the main character] explanation of events and then eventually as a reluctantly believed historical 'fact'.

The show starts out with Tom Jackman hiring a psychiatric nurse to act as a personal assistant of sorts for both himself and his alter-ego. It's an interesting and effective hook.

Throughout the show's narrative, we learn of Jackman's twin sons and estranged wife, the conspiracy surrounding his condition, and most-importantly, we get to know Hyde.

And the amazing thing? Hyde is not the bad guy in the series. He's not necessarily likeable; he's depraved and violent and unrepenting. He is a very bad man. But he is not our bad guy. You might think so at first, but you'll eventually see that isn't the case. How can he be when he is so inextricably tied to the obvious 'good guy'?

Hmm... I may have said too much.

Serious love here. I'd be ecstatic if I learned there was going to be a second series. If there wasn't ever a second series, that would be okay too - the story is told, there are just other stories that could be looked at within the world that's been created. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terribly curious.

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