JEKYLL AND HYDE
You’ll probably prefer him when he’s angry
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.