Sunday, August 12, 2007

Jekyll: Basement tapes

Got enough comments to my review of the "Jekyll" premiere that I'm going to keep blogging through these remaining three weeks. Spoilers for episode two (or three, depending on your math) coming up just as soon as I inventory my wine cellar...

Steven Moffat name-checked Joss Whedon in our interview, and this latest episode had a very "Buffy" feel to it, particularly in regards to our villains, Benjamin and Peter. I complained last time that Benjamin felt too over the top, and while he continues to have spittle dangling from his lips at all times, Peter spends his first full episode as a known villain proving that subtle, even polite, can be twice as scary. ("Do take that in the general area of a, uh,threat... Okay, well, off you pop. Quickly, now.") I hesitate to make this comparison because of the racial connotations, but the pairing reminds me quite a bit of Mr. Trick and Mayor Wilkins, with the flashy bordering on annoying early bad guy getting dispatched quickly so we can spend more time with the more charming, far bigger threat. I'm not saying Denis Lawson is capable of the kind of evil magic Harry Groener gave us in "Buffy" season three, but let's just say I didn't exactly shed a tear when Benjamin's throat got slit, even if it meant that Hyde had just broken his vow against killing.

People who complained last week that some of the writing was too clever by half probably won't have their minds changed by dialogue like, "Dump her. You'll feel like a different man. Now, me, I always feel like a different man," but Nesbitt really does wonders with his line delivery whenever he turns into Hyde. Hyde's so pleased with himself that retorts like "You miscounted" (to Claire's "I thought I married a man") are supposed to be ever so cheeky.

I'm glad this was done as a miniseries instead of a more longform series. While it's a bit annoying to have characters like Katherine Reimer get marginalized in only the third hour (don't expect much more from her the rest of the way), the limited nature of the concept means that we didn't have to wait too long for Claire to find out the secret and to really spar with Hyde. I had never seen Gina Bellman in anything but "Coupling" and didn't know what kind of dramatic chops she had, but she acquits herself nicely against Nesbitt's glorious scenery-chewing.

And, sticking with the "Coupling" theme, Moffat digs into his Fun With Narrative bag of tricks by fracturing the episode's chronology, with each flashback and framing scene feeding off each other beautifully. ("Damages" tries to do the same thing every week, but its content in both time frames is so boring the device doesn't amount to much.)

What did everybody else think?


dark tyler said...

Either this or the next one are my favorite episodes of the show. I saw this one before I saw "Coupling" (which I devoured in only two days) so I was totally blown away by Moffat's use of time.

Hyde's confrontation with Benjamin was such a joyous over-the-top fest that, for once, I wasn't bothered by the latter's presence.

Gina Bellman, by the way... She's not only gorgeous, but she can evidently deliver two 100% different performances where most actors (especially on television) repeat the same tics over and over, whatever they do. I call this the "Robert DeNiro in the last 20 years" factor.

J said...

Gina Bellman, by the way... She's not only gorgeous, but she can evidently deliver two 100% different performances where most actors (especially on television) repeat the same tics over and over

I'd submit that watching her act (or try to) is more akin to watching someone drowning, than someone who knows how to swim. The variations/inconsitencies are because she's flailing.

I'll have to rejoin at the end, b/c I can't keep the eps straight, but I'll second the call that these two middle episodes were my favorites.

Mac said...

I don't think anyone will miss Benjamin. I particularly appreciated how they had to keep pointing out that he was American, since you could never tell exactly what the accent was supposed to me.

Anonymous said...

First, Alan, thanks for writing about this show. I set it to DVR based solely on your initial article, and I would not have known about it otherwise.

Didn't realize until just now that it was a mini-series. I was going to comment that it didn't wait to get the ball rolling and that it wasn't going to turn into some silly dilemma of the week pseudo-procedural show. But if it is only 6 hours, I guess they have to get the ball rolling and don't have time for filler. This is a guilty pleasure and is ever so much better than most American guilty pleasure type shows.

Taleena said...

I rather liked this episode. Hyde didn't kill Benjamin until Benjamin specifically threatened Tom's kids. I think Tom controls Hyde more than he realizes.

Tom is Hyde's descendant, yes?

Anonymous said...

Tom is Hyde's descendant, yes?

*That's* why they keep saying Jekyll had no descendants. D'oh!

I love this show. James Nesbitt is both scary and sexy at the same time. Hyde is one spooky mutha.

Heather K said...

Was totally thrilled to discover that I can watch this on demand (even though we don't get BBC America)!

I love coupling, and I love the thirty minutes of this that I have been able to watch so far.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Denis Lawson (not Dennis, as it appears in the article), who plays Peter Syme in "Jekyll," is a terrific Scottish actor best known in America for his role as the innkeeper/negotiator in "Local Hero" and for his appearances as Wedge in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Ewan McGregor, Lawson's nephew, stated in an interview that he was inspired to become an actor because of his uncle.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask what is probably a pretty stupid question?

What was the deal with Mobile Phone Guy? Jackman borrows his phone because he hopes his pursuers will follow MPG's mobile and thus be taken off-track. Fair enough.

But then, when Jackman is busy tying up Syme in his basement, MPG turns up at Syme's house and knows Jackman is inside.

I could maybe understand that Jackman's strategy misfired because he just happened to borrow the phone from a guy who was on his way to Syme's anyways, but how could MPG have known Jackman was already there?

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)