Show: Jekyll & Hyde.
Episodes: 1-3, “Harbinger”, “Mr. Hyde”, “The Cutter.”
Created and Written by: Charlie Higson.
Running Time: 46 min.
This ITV British 1930’s period fantasy story is set 50 years after the events from the original The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde classic by Robert Louis Stevenson in which the grandson of the infamous doctor, whom himself is also a Doctor, Robert Jekyll (Tom Bateman) is trying to discover his origins and learn to control his monstrous alter ego amidst a setting of supernatural conspiracy.
This is a rather interesting show in that its neither spectacularly good nor bad, but at the same time has qualities that keep it from tipping into the “Meh” pile, mainly leaving one scratching their head trying to figure out if they liked it and somehow still enjoying it all the same.
From the technical end of things, the special effects are not horrible, but they had some not so impressive moments. For the impressive end, the construction of the Harbinger was rather “WTF?” which is always delightful to be surprised with when watching a television series, and there was some decent, though somewhat standard, fight scenes that were decently choreographed but have yet to demonstrate any sense of realism (no one looked like they were hurting in this), but the lead’s face as he goes about beating the gizzards out of a bar full of drunkards was rather delightful, and you can tell that Bateman was having fun, always a plus when portraying this type of character.
But then you get the overall visual construction of Hyde 2.0, and while the actor does a brilliant job as Hyde, he’s a little too pretty in his Hyde form to be believable.
As for the Lobster armed whatever-it -was monster…yeah, I had Bewitched flashbacks let’s just say, which at this time I don’t know if it’s part of its charm on purpose or part of its problem so early into the season.
The sets were well done, with the architecture and mise-en-scene in general doing an excellent job depicting the period, looking engaging and believable, giving you a good feel for the action they were depicting and the emotion they wished to engender in the viewer for an upcoming scene.
Now for the character end of things, our lead, Robert in his Jekyll personal was not overly well portrayed. He was rather…well, other than the initial Hyde inducing fit and screaming, he was not as real in his emotional reactions to something such as not being quite as devastated by the loss of his entire family to a fire for cheese sake, and though Hyde is enjoyable the first episode and some of the second, by the third, he’s beginning to lose some of his lustre of appeal as a possibly supernatural-esque Id personality that’s been equated with a demon.
As for the main antagonist Captain Dance (Enzo Cilenti), it’s hard to get a grasp on his motivations. Perhaps it’s because it’s still a bit early in the show, he feels a bit too much like being evil for the sake of evil villain type, a sort of one dimensional lack of complexity, much like his femme murderess lackey. His physical construction was interesting, and definitely raises some questions, adding to his mystery which is good, so hopefully they will utilize some of that further in. As for the actor, he did a good job coming across as the amoral apathetic, which is a nice touch in contrast to Jeckyll/Hyde. We will have to see if he develops more as the show goes on.
The side-characters though is where this show shines.
The plucky Hils (Ruby Bental) is a definite A+ fun character as she treads the line between quirky and strong detective-ish type with a good practical intelligence. She stands out uniquely from her fellows, even if there are a few cliché things that are also part of her character (a crazy woman driver? *Slaps hands to face dramatically* how utterly droll!) it’s more her dynamic with other characters that she shines, with her best moment being with Belle (Natalie Gumede ), another strongly performed character, as they try to grill each other while simultaneously trying to drink each other under the table in episode 3. Bental does a brilliant job in her portrayal and has a great voice that fits well with the character.
Ravi (Michael Karim) Robert’s adoptive younger brother, with his own separate story arc in his journey to try to help his brother, is interesting in that at first he came across to much like an eager puppy, but through his own independent adventure is developing into something more, and less predictable, you can’t always tell where he is going to end up or what is going to happen to him. He presents an opportunity for the show to display a character that grows in reaction to the events around him, and the Karim does a good job in portraying the inherent earnestness of his character without being annoying.
The story overall meanwhile is…well, it’s not bad, but there are elements here that have been used a lot, and there are some clichés and tropes that make it a bit difficult to be original (the catalyst for Jekyll to stay in England for example), though the pacing of the plot progression is pretty good, particularly for Ravi.
The secret supernatural enforcing group is manned by some well-acted characters, and present an interesting element of extra conflict for the plot, but they present more like a smaller version of the several other cut out super-secret agencies out there, and didn’t do anything as yet to make them stand out, though they do provide some potential for extra conflict later one for the lead character, and there are some genuinely good characters that is fun to watch, they just need to define the organization more distinctly from the rest.
As you can see, this show has an odd mixed bag of both good and bad qualities so far, making it difficult to pin it down conclusively. Some of the characters are good, particularly the side characters, the time period is portrayed well, and there is some serious talent here, but the more unfortunate special effects, clichés, and tropes, and the unrealistic reactions of the characters to certain scenarios make it difficult to fully like it. Overall I recommend watching it because it is interesting, despite its weak points, and what’s good is good enough to keep you somewhat invested in the show, and thus worthwhile to watch.
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