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Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

Jackman/Hyde -
James Nesbitt

Mrs Jackman -
Gina Bellman

Katherine -
Michelle Ryan

Miranda -
Meera Syal

Peter Syme -
Denis Lawson

Frankenstein (2007)

Dead Set

Episode 1 - First broadcast 16th June 2007

Tom Jackman has a unique condition. He has an alternate personality that takes over his body at certain times. Mostly, these times are prearranged, but his alternate personality has been getting stronger, coming more often and when it chooses. This alternate personality is physically stronger than Jackman, has baser desires and likes to hurt people. As a result, Jackman has hidden the fact that he is married with a family. Hyde, however, is starting to learn the truth.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a story that has been around a long time and been interpreted many times on large and small screen. The question then is what can Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat bring to it that is new and different. Well, apart from the modern setting and a few quirky characters, the answer is not a lot. The premise of the the two sides of Jackman's personality working out an arrangement to share the body that actually works is an intriguing one at first, but that fizzles out a bit when Hyde first makes his appearance.

The problem with Mr Hyde is twofold. Firstly, James Nesbitt doesn't manage to make him truly scary or evil. The transformation is acheived by slicking back his hair a bit and putting in some darker contact lenses. This isn't enough. He also doesn't do a lot that's worthy of his reputation. He sleeps with hookers and drinks to excess. When he is threatened by a street punk, he beats the crap out of him, but looks like a joker having fun rather than a dangerous man. This is also partly down to the direction at this point. Gimmicky changes in camera speed, flashes of a werewolf like visage and abrupt changes of view only distract and show a director that is not really comfortable with his material. And when he chooses to climb a wall for no apparent reason it looks so false as to destroy the illusion altogether.

What's good about the show are the quirky characters. Whilst the central duo do what they do, we are introduced to some supporting players that have much more fun with their roles. Gina Bellman is already struggling to make Jackman's wife real in her few scenes, but Meera Syal and Paterson Joseph have a ball with their camp characters.

On the whole, this was a disappointing first episode that only fulfilled its promise when Jekyll came home to a house that Mr Hyde had visited, meeting his family for the first, and probably last, time. There is a good deal of room for improvement.


Episode 2 - First broadcast 23rd June 2007

When Katherine drugs Tom Jackman in order to find out his secrets, Mr Hyde takes over and makes good on a promise that she is only safe if the lights and cameras are on. Both have been disabled and she is forced to reveal who she really works for in order to save her life. The shadowy agency that has been following Hyde makes its move by throwing one of Jackman's kids into the lion enclosure at the zoo. Hyde emerges and promptly trashes their whole operation. Whilst agonising over a goon that Hyde has put into the hospital, Jackman gets a visit from his mother, a remarkable woman who appears to have talents of her own.

This second episode proves that the problem here is not the writing, but rather the realisation. The story starts off really promisingly, with a replay of Katherine's inital interview followed by her being terrorised in the dark by Hyde and a pretty effective (if derivative) manner. After that, sadly, it all goes downhill. The story continues to be interesting with the zoo interlude padding out the time until the revelation of Jackman/Hyde's mother. Nothing is revealed, but a lot more questions are set up. There are also some lovely lines ("He sent a note pinned to a dead lion - how serious can you get?").

Unfortunately, the rest of the production continues to let down the writing. James Nesbitt is playing Hyde more and more like a panto dame. His preening atop the lion's den is risible and totally undermines the sequence as well as spoiling the memory of the opening minutes. Nobody else is getting much of a look in and it is really hard to care what lies at the heart of all the mystery as a result.


Episode 3 - First broadcast 30th June 2007

The net is tightening in on Tom Jackman as he moves from cheap hotel to cheap hotel, locking up Hyde and getting more and more sleep deprived (neither of them is sleeping). In desperation, he goes to the house of his friend to find a safe place to let Hyde loose for a while, only to find that his wife is there and he has left her locked in a cellar with a monster.

The fatal flaw remains the same in episode 3. Mr Hyde still remains unfrightening and really rather camp. There's plenty of opportunity here as well with a sequence is which the chained up Mr Hyde is challenged in his evil by Mrs Jackman. Who knows him better than his wife, but who is more vulnerable to him. There's some depth here as she undermines some of Hyde's beliefs and causes him to start thinking. For the first time you see why Jackman might have married this woman. Trouble is that Gina Bellman can pretty much only strike the poses rather than bring out the character and James Nesbitt's preening remains more annoying than anything else.

On the plus side (yes, there is one) Stephen Moffat's plotting still remains quite strong with Jackman waking up covered in someone's blood and it becoming clear in flashback that it wasn't the friend, but his wife that was likely to have provided it. The denoument should also have been chilling, but without really caring about the characters it was robbed of its impact.


Episode 4 - First broadcast 14th July 2007

Mrs Jackman is taken inside the mysterious company that has her husband locked up inside a high-tech box, looking for answers. Before she can get them, the private eye that she hired to follow him shows up demanding to tell everyone how clever she is at working it all out. The answers, though, appear to be more elusive than either side thought.

This is a better episode mainly because Mr Hyde appears in it hardly at all. In amongst flashbacks to various points in Jackman's life (his marriage, the birth of twin sons where there was only one heartbeat, the humiliation that led to Hyde's first call and the purchase of the cell where he tried to keep Hyde at bay) the women that he has accrued (wife, private investigator, private investigator's girlfriend, assistant) gather and bitch about each other before trying to figure out what the truth is.

The two stars this week are Meera Syal and, surprisingly, Gina Bellman. Syal is having a ball playing the theatrical Miranda, laying down her version of events. Her mode of getting through the front gate is a lot of fun and very unorthodox and she makes the most of her expositionary role right up until the point where it becomes clear that she may not have the upper hand at all. Gina Bellman is required to strike poses and act bitchy, something that she manages to do quite effectively. Her put down of the pretty assistant is especially nice. Between the two, Denis Lawson doesn't stand much of a chance.

The show also ends on a nice cliffhanger as the box is opened and we await to reveal whether the 'cure' has created a stable Jackman or a stable Hyde.


Episode 5 - First broadcast 21st July 2007

It is Hyde who remains when the box is opened. Dr Jackman is buried so deep that not all the power in the building will bring him back. Flashbacks to the memories of the original Jekyll give some surprising information about Nrs Jackman. Hyde decides to play a game with her and her children, a game that is all about getting them to safety. When that fails, Hyde realises that ne needs Jekyll and blacks out the entire city, leaving the chilling message 'We are coming.

It's all about Mrs Jackman, apparently. Stephen Moffat's plotting takes some very surprising twists along the way in this episode, but it's all for noyhing as we spend the majority of this episode in the company of Hyde, a character who continues to be utterly unbelievable and utterly unthreatening thanks to the surprisingly misjudged interpretation. Every moment that he is on screen, Hyde undermines everything that the writer has carefully crafted. It's such a shame as the script does deserve so much better.


Episode 6 - First broadcast 28th July 2007

The Jackman children are placed in the same boxes that contained their father. They are the bait in the trap. But everyone forgets that Mr Hyde never plays by the rules and if the only way to spoil the party is to die, then he'll consider that.

The ultimate badass soldier is recruited by the organisation to fortify their stately home headquarters. He hires and trains an elite force for the sole purpose of capturing Mr Hyde. It takes Hyde less than a couple of seconds to kill him. This is the subversive opening to the final episode of the series, made even more so by changing the title credits to HYDE.

JEKYLL goes out on a high with a good episode that benefits from not having Hyde on screen for too long and toning down his antics when he is. Even though he is not on screen, however, his shadow looms large, the message 'Run if you want to live' ominously appearing everywhere to warn of his approach, building an atmosphere of fear.

His choice of solution to the problem of the trap is refreshingly different as well, making the character somewhat more than the two-dimensional pantomime creation to date.

JEKYLL is a show that was much better in the scripting than in its realisation, but finally it shows what was possible when the two come closer together.







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