You’ll prob­a­bly pre­fer him when he’s an­gry

SFX - - Viewscreen -

UK Broad­cast ITV, Sun­days

US Broad­cast TBC

Episodes Re­viewed 1.01-1.07

Ever since 2005, ITV has been try­ing to find a bona fide com­peti­tor to Doc­tor Who. Some (Primeval) came closer than oth­ers (Demons) but none has had the im­pact of the re­ju­ve­nated Time Lord. Un­til Jekyll And Hyde.

Whether or not it’ll prove a sim­i­lar rat­ings hit is yet to be seen, but it’s cer­tainly matched Who in terms of grab­bing head­lines. 459 com­plaints to Of­com about the level of violence in a broad­cast at 6.30pm. Re­sult!

And it is ex­tremely gory and vi­o­lent in places, much more so than Doc­tor Who. So ITV’s best fam­ily fan­tasy se­ries in decades isn’t ac­tu­ally fam­ily-friendly. Which could give it an iden­tity cri­sis if it does go to a sec­ond se­ries. Should it tone down and risk los­ing, ar­guably, one of things that makes it such a re­fresh­ingly orig­i­nal show? Or should it give up pre­tend­ing, go out later and lose some of its ap­peal­ing in­no­cence?

Ideally you wouldn’t want it to change. Ideally you’d hope the au­di­ence tunes into this de­light­fully quirky show rather than it be­ing forced to re­tool to chase an au­di­ence. Be­cause if you do get J&H it’s a thing of so, so many joys.

Al­though set in the 1930s – it cen­tres on the grand­son of the novella’s Jekyll – with the cin­ema se­rial vibe that also in­spired Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the show also owes a whack­ing great debt to Love­craft’s Cthulhu, with beasts and mon­sters as night­mar­ish in con­cep­tion as they are bril­liant in ex­e­cu­tion on screen. From hench­men with frogs in their eyes to steam­punk Spring-Heeled Jacks, the show is full of ex­tra­or­di­nary im­ages.

The reg­u­lar and re­cur­ring cast are a won­der­fully colour­ful bunch, with even mi­nor char­ac­ters burst­ing with charm, and the women making the men – Hyde ex­cepted – look like a right bunch of wets and tools. Ad­mit­tedly, the vil­lains are far more in­ter­est­ing than the he­roes – Tom Bate­man is much more fun as Hyde than Jekyll – and episodes light on ei­ther the evil Tene­brae or the dodgy MIO are dis­ap­point­ingly flat. But don’t worry about that – there’s al­ways a gi­ant leech or lob­ster man com­ing along soon to liven things up. Dave Golder

Hyde can’t stand pot­tery. Or peo­ple shoot­ing at him.

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