I decided to check out the first episode. It is a slow build. The first 10 minutes introduce the key characters. Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbitt) reveals the premise of the show by explaining to the psychiatric nurse he hired (Michelle Ryan) the reasons for the chair that looks like a torture device and the other accoutrements that are in the house he rented. Jackman then proceeds to his house where the changes are occurring more frequently. He rushes away from his wife and twins – that’s when the fun begins.
Not having a name at first, Hyde appears on the scene. He’s everything that Jackman’s not. Hyde is taller, uninhibited and prone to violence. The change is subtle. Through a slight alteration in hairline and lifts in his shoes, Jackman is transformed into Hyde.
However, it is Nesbitt’s performance that makes you see two completely different people on the screen. As Jackman, Nesbitt shows a repression that is so annoyingly dull, you wonder how he ever got a wife and children in the first place. When it comes to Hyde, Nesbitt lets loose and gives himself free reign to explore his sexual and violent nature.
The plot becomes even more interesting when the private detective hired by his wife helps him realize what is happening to him. Essentially, Jackman has no past, yet he is somehow related to Dr. Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
It seems that Stevenson based his tale on an actual person who was about the same age as Jackman is now. Then, there is that black van that continuously follows him and a secret organization that has plans for both Jackman and Hyde. As the hour unfolds, Jackman becomes less uptight and Hyde’s bestial side is emphasized. This is done more through the witty script by Steven Moffat than anything else.
What is also stressed is that both Jackman and Hyde are two distinct people. As the detective breaks it down for him – each man has his own needs and desires that are independent of each other. Although Hyde is less inhibited, he is not solely the id of Jackman, screaming to be free. This also reveals how truth is stranger and, in this case, more frightening than fiction.
It seems that Stevenson toned down both Jekyll and Hyde. There is no potion and the transformation is instantaneous. One moment, you’re talking to Jackman. The next thing you know, this man with jagged teeth and a short tempter is standing front of you and leering at you as if you are his prey.
Nesbitt was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role. From seeing the pilot episode, one can see why. However, this isn’t a one man show. The psychiatric nurse, who seems to be falling for Jackman, Michelle Ryan, delivers her lines with dry wit. The detective, Meera Syal and her assistant/lover Fenella Woolgar have a rapport that gives their scenes both comedic levity and poignant moments to the pilot episode.
His wife, played by Gina Bellman (Leverage), gives us the only insight as to how Jackman was before the dominance of Hyde emerged. At the end of the episode, we have more questions than answers. There is a mystery that we want to see unfold, relationships to be explored and what purpose the minor characters will have in the coming episodes. The series ended after six shows, but fortunately all of them can be viewed on the Instant Queue.
Sometimes it’s worth checking something out that you would not have taken notice of before. Thanks to the Queue, I’ve found a new series to satiate my hunger – at least for awhile.