Welcome to a new column I’m going to be doing on occasion here called Watch This Now. With things like Netflix streaming on Xbox 360, Boxee on Apple TV (or on Linux on your PS3), and even the mere existence of Hulu.com, there are several ways to get exposed to Television, Movies, and Webisodes that you may have otherwise missed. I’ll take a moment to review these as I stumble across them, and let you know what to check out.
Jekyll was a 6 episode series that ran on the BBC in 2007. I had heard of it in cursory conversation, but never really looked into it. I’m fascinated by the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, so it’s not exactly a hard sell to get me to watch an updated version (that has ties to the original story). I actually came to watch it in a roundabout way, though. With the aforementioned Netflix-on-360, I’ve found it much easier to check out movies and tv shows I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to view. So, if I find an actor or actress I like, I’ll IMDB them, then look at the “Watch Now” list and see what else I can check out.
I’m a huge fan of the absolutely stellar Leverage currently running on TNT. One of the actresses in the show is a Brit called Gina Bellman. I recognized her instantly from her turn as goofy-to-the-point-of-ridiculous Jane on the British sitcom Coupling, and decided it was time to look for more of her work. Low and behold, she was also a regular on Jekyll. I queued it up, and today watched the first episode.
Quite simply, the show is brilliant. If it can maintain even a quarter of the intelligence, tension, and suspense that it showed off in the first episode throughout the series, I have no doubt this will hold a spot in my list of all time favorites. The story follows Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbit) as a man who for some unspecified time has been dealing with an alter ego. This is no normal case of multiple personality disorder, as the other person typically comes out at set times, and seems to gain heightened strength and speed compared to his counterpart. They also look slightly different, with discolored eyes and a different hairline, marking more than just a mental change.
The first episode picks up with all of this pre-established as Jackman’s status quo. We meet him at the same time as a new assistant/caretaker, played by Michelle Ryan. I should note, if they had let her look as incredible as she does on this show on Bionic Woman (and hell, just let her be British), it may have lasted longer. We’re teased with the change for a little more than half the episode before we actually meet the man who comes to be known as Mr. Hyde, and that build up made him much more intriguing and ultimately more terrifying. Other characters introduced are a mysterious organization who may know more about Hyde than Jackman does, and a Private Investigator hired to look into him by his wife (Bellman).
Establishing tones of humor, horror, tension, love, conflict, betrayal, and scheming all in one hour of television is a difficult proposition. Pulling it off so well that it looks natural and easy is nothing short of amazing. Genre fans have just enough of the supernatural here, and those who usually cringe from genre entertainment won’t find enough to steer them away. Fans of characters like The Hulk will obviously find something to like here, but really this is just good drama. I highly recommend checking out Jekyll, available now on DVD or streaming via Netflix. I’ll be sure to follow up when I finish the series (which will likely only be a couple days).