Directed by Douglas Mackinnon and Matt Lipsey
Distributed by BBC Video
Have you ever wondered what is lurking in that other 80%-90% of the brain that is never used? Oh, what secrets could be in there. Hiding in each one of us is the next step in human evolution. A healthy percentage of the populace cannot unlock the potential, except for a century old lineage that was once thought to be a work of fiction.
Doctor Tom Jackman (Nesbitt) has been leading a double life, but not willingly. Deep in his subconscious another being has been given access to Jackman's life, a creature of remarkable strength and sense. This new jump in evolution claws its way out of the mental cage to take over the good doctor's life on occasion, but recently the beast has been calling far more frequently.
Tom's alter ego doesn't manifest itself just mentally, but physically as well. Jackman becomes taller, thinner and much more handsome with jet black eyes. The personality that takes charge is that of a child stuck with the drives and body of a fully grown adult. How does such a new soul handle all the passion, anger and lust?
This new spin on Jekyll & Hyde is just what the old girl needed. We've seen many different versions of the tale of dual dueling personalities, but each one in recent memory felt very flat. Here's where the BBC came in and decided it was time for a drastic change. Gone is the whole “mad scientist” angle full of experiments and potions. Instead those things are replaced with a more sound scientific take involving the next step mankind may take as we continue to change.
Dr. Jackman is a direct descendant of the Jekyll line, thought it is widely believed the original was the last of his kind. Though we won't spoil the story, the lineage continued and now a very wealthy company wants to get its hands on Jackman to exploit his unique power/curse.
What really sells this mini-series is how Jekyll is portrayed. James Nesbitt's change between the two personas is so drastic and disturbing that it keeps the audience coming back for more. While Jackman is the repressed, loving family man, Hyde is at first a vicious horny monster. Hyde isn't exactly the monster we are used to from other incarnations. This suave alter-ego may have various negatives but also is able to follow the basic rules Jackman puts down to ensure their continued existence. That's what makes Jekyll work so well! Nesbitt is really the strongest thing about this series, but there are some negatives that would drain the review's final score had Hyde/Jackman been a bore.
The first of these cons would be the story itself. The first half of the series doesn't jump the shark, but once we are shown clones, bad American accents and other sci-fi nonsense, the fun starts to fade away. Several plot holes also make themselves present that make one wonder, “If they already had a Hyde, why try to capture another one to study?” It's a bit of a spoiler, but that hole really hurts the overall tone when one goes back to watch the series again.
It would also help if this DVD set actually had something worth buying it for. Out of all six episodes we only get two dull commentary tracks and two featurettes that don't go deep enough into this unique take on Jekyll/Hyde. One of the featurettes focuses on just one scene involving some lions. It is interesting to hear a lion tamer talk about someone getting his digits bitten off, but what about all the other scenes in this series? Was there just nothing to openly talk about? The next featurette does give us a view into the make-up used to make Nesbitt look different when changing personas, but in the end it's just boring.
If you’re willing to let some things slide as far as the plot goes, then this series will easily entertain most horror, thrill and classic literature fans. Too bad there weren’t enough special features to really make this warrant a purchase instead of Tivo’n BBC American.
4 out of 5
3 out of 5