Sunday, August 26, 2007

Jekyll: Half a life

Spoilers for the "Jekyll" finale coming up just as soon as I turn the power back on...

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?

There were some obvious problems in the final two hours, notably the horrid accent by the actress playing Mrs. Utterson (she made Benjamin sound like he came from Southie or something), and I feel like the epilogue raised far more questions than it answered. But until then, there were plenty of cool moments: Hyde discovering that he has digital rewind (and good on the FX team for that stuff), the revelation that Hyde wanted to save Claire and the boys ("I'm a psychopath with superpowers, and you're my girl!"), the hilarious punchline to the protracted set-up with bad-ass mercenary Mr. Carver, Hyde declaring "we are coming," Hyde telepathically sending "RUN IF YOU WANT TO LIVE" messages to all of Peter's goons, Peter's good manners increasing proportionately with his homicidal intent, etc.

Looked at as a group, I'm not sure it hangs together perfectly. Nurse Reimer became irrelevant after all that set-up in the first two episodes, and despite the amount of time spent trying to explain Tom's origins, I'm still confused. (Better they had just left the mystery unsolved, I think.) But James Nesbitt was brilliant, and Moffat gave him lots to play while playing his usual structural games.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I had a great time. Snappy dialogue and the knockout lead performances carried me through the confusing parts. Still reeling from what was possibly the worst American accent I've ever heard from the threatening authority figure fellow - that was an American accent, wasn't it? As for the female threatening authority figure, I have no clue what her accent was supposed to be.
Terrific series, nonetheless!

Newscoma said...

It didn't hang together perfectly, but I had a groovy good time with it all.

It was so much better than so much I see here.

Can't wait for Torchwood.

Nicole said...

I still wonder why she had to be an American. I think keeping her natural accent would have worked, or at least another British Isle accent wouldn't have hurt the ears so much. She may be the Kevin Costner of her time.

I have to say that I picked up on the twins being the good and evil pretty early on, if only because of their different hair colour.
The ultimate twist in having Claire be the catalyst was a good one.

I have only recently caught her in Coupling and she is much more tolerable here.

As for Torchwood, I wouldn't get too excited. It's okay, some hate it, but the tone is definitely different than DW, and there will be certain characters that will be annoying after a while. Obviously not Captain Jack though.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Utterson's accent reminded me of the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where (SPOILER) Glenne Headly is trying to sell fraudulent Australian timeshares-- "Who better than Mr Australia, Chips O'Toole!"

What was going on with the twins? Were they able to switch bodies? Was this cut for time like a lot of the BBC America shows are?

Overall I thought it was great, and I hope they start showing "Murphy's Law" again soon, James Nesbitt is amazing.


R.A. Porter said...

Clearly the big bad wasn't supposed to be an American, considering who she really was. I have no idea why the actress chose to use that dreadful accent, though.

It was an uneven ride, but my goodness Nesbitt was amazing.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it despite the confusing bits. James Nesbitt truly was wonderful. Do you think they'll do a second JEKYLL series?

Jim Treacher said...

"Trust me, I'm a psychopath!" In the end, though, we see that Hyde is more dependent on Jackman than anything. Lots of bark, not as much bite as we thought.

Are the twins supposed to be one good and one evil? I got that they can switch bodies or something, but...

dark tyler said...

I'm afraid this show didn't do well enough in the ratings to merit a second series.

Of course, I'm not that familiar with the tactics of the BBC, so for all I know they may go and announce a second series tomorrow.

Taleena said...

Well I wish they made the Nurse's role bigger and minimized the mother/villain role. Having Peter as the honcho baddie made more sense because if the Mother had successfully maintained the Hyde/Jekyll split into old age then why couldn't they extract the uber-medical cures from her? having her split with the "curse of the Jekylls" seemed to negate the whole kidnapping plot.


Despite all that, I loved Nesbitt. I loved when the two halves fused and he took out all the power in London. Sweet.

Dan said...

Apparently, Steven Moffat does have an idea for a second series (which should be called Hyde, imo), but it depends if the BBC want one.

I personally found the idea of Claire being the catalyst a very good twist... but why Jekyll would develop a split personality and "superpowers" just because he fell in love with a maid, just wasn't answered!

I expected more from Moffat in answering that, because it might have just been wiser to say there WAS a magic potion...

Anonymous said...

Jekyll made me totally agree with Alan's assertion that the world's better off with one or two bang-up Who ep's per year than making that a Moffat-run show.

There were enjoyable bits throughout, though I was really getting weary by the sixth hour as they'd abandoned all the stuff I found most interesting -- how the two halves communicated with each other, briefly revived for a bit of Videodrome hoodoo (the TV scene nicely paralleled Blink, actually) -- after the first two hours. The whole thing careened along like a first draft, making up its rules (dramatic and logical) as it went along, and not in an exhilerating way.

"Hyde is Love!" certainly made me laugh harder than any of the intentionally funny lines. Though... was that really Mrs. Utterson's Hyde lying through Mrs. Jackman's mouth? And does it freaking matter?

Once I realized this wasn't going to cleverly come together, and that the series didn't have anything profound or insightful to say, I sat back and enjoyed Nesbitt's performance and the odd left-field gag (hated the Stay Tuned/Click-ish "digital rewind" bit, but the Mr. Carver thing was a fun bit of misdirection).

Dan said...

J, there's a difference between showrunning Doctor Who and actually creating/writing something like Jekyll. I agree totally that Jekyll was extremely up-and-down in quality and didn't really come together by ep6, but I still really enjoyed it.

If Moffat were to run Dr Who, based purely on Russell T Davies' tenure, I'd much prefer Moffat masterminding the overall direction of a season (and maybe writing 4 or 5 episodes). There is a risk he'll dilute his talent writing more than 2 episodes a year, but who knows. I'd like to see it happen

I do think Moffat would do a better job of giving a season a true arc. RTD basically picks a "word/phrase", has writers scatter it throughout all the episodes, and pays it off in his self-penned finales.

Don't get me wrong, it worked brilliantly in s1, but the idea was useless in s2-3 because the tabloids spoil things MONTHS in advance. Not sure if the majority of Americans have worked out Saxon yet, but in the UK it was pretty obvious for fans.

If Moffat doesn't get the gig, I'm not sure who else would be up to it. Maybe Mark Gatiss, but only his s1 episode impressed me.

dark tyler said...

Paul Cornell?

(I, too, am Team Moffat, I'm just saying.)

Unknown said...

Dan, I think one of the big pluses of Davies' run has been season-long developmental stuff. He's a good Big Picture guy. I'm not taking "Bad Wolf" games, empty recurring phrases and surprise Big Bads (Do anagrams ever work?). But character, plot. The Eccleston Doctor had a very effective season-long emotional arc. Elements from throughout this season come into play in the finale, not just name-dropping Mister Saxon. One of the great accomplishments of Davies' tenure has been to create a show that inherited twenty-six years of history, one that takes place over the course of all time and space, and have it cohere. There are a lot of lousy episodes, yet (and in no small part due to his main actors' charisma) his series have wound up more than their sum.

It helps the cause, though, that there are at least a few really good episodes, and up until now Moffat's provided at least one of each year. So I'm suddenly concerned that the overall picture will get as hazy as Jekyll's, and that the 1-2 hours of Standard Moffat Brilliance will be affected.

I would love to be pleasantly surprised, though. Pass that on to TPTB.

Dan said...

Dark Tyler, Paul Cornell admits himself he's more a novelist than a screenwriter. Sure Father's Day was impressive, but Human Nature is a translation of his novel. I don't think he has the chops to run the show just yet.

J, okay I admit RTD has done a pretty good job all said and done, but I personally find most of his scripts disappointing. Weirdly, most American fans tend to like/love many of his episodes us Brits dislike/hate(e.g Gridlock).

This seems to go for seasonal arcs. Sure s1 was solid all round, but s2 wasn't. Torchwood plastered everywhere for little reason. A very late "ooh, a storm's coming" overtones, before a Dalek/Cybermen punchup we knew was coming 10 months beforehand. I won't spoil s3, but the build-up is very formulaic now. I want someone new to come in and shake things up. Moffat ideally. I still think Jekyll was a "test" by the BBC before they offer him Who for s5.

Unknown said...

Dan, I'll agree the build-up is formulaic to the extent that Davies has to have this huge, silly melodramatic climax -- and the 2nd season two-parter was, for me, infinitely superior to the first season's. I run wildly hot and cold on Davies' own scripts, so his name brings its own kind of suspense.

It sounds like either Brits need a respectful, SPOILER-free press, a more vigilant production company... or the ability to look away from the tabloids.

Anonymous said...

I thought this entire series was great, but the epilogue was a real disappointment.

All the surprises in the episode itself were enjoyably unpredictable and sort of made sense: That there was no "formula"; that Claire was the clone. (Although it's hard to see why a company that can successfully clone people would need other ways to make a profit.)

Still, like everyone else, I was confused by the kids: I understood that they had the ability to switch bodies, but if one was supposed to be good and the other evil, it's something they never actually dramatized.

But the final scene, in which it was revealed that Hyde's descendant was Tom's mother, struck me as similar to the end of a bad horror movie when the vanquished monster suddenly reappears to scare someone. It just makes no sense. Hyde is childlike, but this version is the mastermind behind a large corporation and a major conspiracy? Hyde is the dark side of "love," and develops a fervent attachment to Tom's family, but Mom Hyde just wants to torture and exploit her own family? And if Tom needed Claire to activate the Hyde in him, who did that for his mother? All of these questions pretty much destroyed the intricate story that had been built up until that point.

As for the poorly accented American: I've noticed that in most British productions lately, American characters are depicted as villains. They're imperious, overbearing (even the other bad guys don't like him!), usually warlike or wealthy and entitled, and often act as a catalyst for the British underdog to learn to stand up for himself against the American bully.

What that says about Brits' attitudes about Americans these days is pretty obvious. (Amusingly, it's the same attitude that, until relatively recently, the rest of the world used to have about the British.)

dark tyler said...

J, it wasn't the press' fault that everyone had s3 figured out, IMO. I have never watched a "Who" episode before Eccleston's season, and I wasn't spoiled while watching s3, but I was pretty certain what was going on. Davies' arcs work better when they center around a character arc rather than actual plot. I loved the empowerment arc of Rose Tyler and the catharsis for Nine, I loved the way the Tylers came together in the end of s2 and what Ten had to lose for that to happen, and I loved Martha's arc in s3.

But plot-wise, none of the arcs did it for me, except maybe for the second seasons's, which was sloppy but at least it featured the frakking Daleks versus the frakking Cybermen! Season 1 didn't really have that much of an over-arching plot, the finale was actually the sequel of a middle-season episode. And season 3, I'm not spoiling anything, but it was bad.

And now I realize that this is the "Jekyll" thread! Oops! Anyway, this series satisfied me in both a character-exploring and a plot-overarching way, and also I never knew what to expect in terms of form and style. Where Davies tends to be overly formulaic, not in his specific scripts (as you noted, always a surprise) but in his overall plot forming, Moffat is always a mystery, and I love that!

Anonymous said...

Still, like everyone else, I was confused by the kids: I understood that they had the ability to switch bodies, but if one was supposed to be good and the other evil, it's something they never actually dramatized.

When Eddie (I think) did his little wink/shhh! thing at the end, it almost seemed as if the Hyde entity had moved from Tom's body to his, rather than he was just born that way.

I hate that Hollywood "ending- after-the-ending" crap, too. I agree with bigted that the reveal of Hyde's mother didn't make sense--except for explaining how she managed to get past all the security to help out Claire.

Anonymous said...

rite the kids could switch bodies but they are twins so they share the curse so when eddie calms down he'll switch to bodies with harry and when harry is mad he'll be eddie if that makes any sence its like there dad when hydes asleep he's tom but wen toms asleep he's hyde and i have and idewa for series two toms mother could of just been trying to scare tom as a bit of fun but after she turns into mrs hyde graduly tom's starts to heal and come back later on they find out tom has a brother who pure eveil who lives in scotland tom his mother and his team travel up to scotland to trasck him down maybe instead of it being his brother tom could work for his mothers company and they find some one like him but just pure eveil what do you theink

Anonymous said...

Of course the theme of this show is kind of like the theme of that old Star Trek episode "the Enemy within"

This is where Kirk finds out that calling his Dark side "evil" is too simplistic. He finds out that he needs his dark side.

Jim… you’re no different than anyone else.
We all have our darker side.
We need it!
It’s half of what we are.
It’s not ugly. It’s human.
A lot of what he is makes you the man you are.
God forbid I should agree with Spock,
but he was right.
Without the negative side,
you couldn’t be the captain.

Anonymous said...