I’m phasing out Comcast Cable (crappy HD, shitty DVR that’s years behind Tivo in reliability and functionality, and execrable customer service), which is unfortunately the only TV option provided by my apartment management, and one of the services that is replacing it is a renewed subscription to Netflix, because of its new streaming features. For $10 a month I can have one disk out at a time (and that disk will be Blu-Ray if the flick is available in that format) and unlimited real-time streaming of the movies they have available, of which there’s a surprising abundance (I have over three hundred listings in my personal “Watch Instantly” queue).
It’s really great, as I can choose something on the spot to give a try, without worrying about it tying up my physical rental for a few days of mailing back and forth, and if that choice sucks, I just stop watching and move on to something else. It also has allowed me to find some really great stuff I hadn’t been aware of, the latest being the BBC miniseries Jekyll.
Jekyll is FUN.
It’s not so much a modernization of Stevenson’s classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as it is a brilliant continuation in modern times. The series, which runs six episodes, was created and written by Stephen Moffat, who I recognized as the mastermind behind the hilariously raunchy Coupling (the original BBC series, not the wretched American adaptation), but who apparently is a much revered writer on the newer Dr. Who series…
And, wow. I just looked him up on Wikipedia, and the man definitely has cred:
In 2004 Moffat was signed to write for the revival of Doctor Who proper. His contribution for the first series, transmitted in 2005, was the Hugo Award-winning two-part story “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”… He wrote an episode for each of the two following series of Doctor Who: “The Girl in the Fireplace” in the 2006 series (which won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form and was nominated for a 2006 Nebula Award) and “Blink” in the 2007 series. In the Doctor Who Magazine reader poll for the 2007 series, Moffat was voted as best writer and “Blink” as the best story. The episode was also nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Script. In 2008 it secured him his third Hugo win, again for Best Dramatic Presentation, the BAFTA Craft Award for Best Writer, and a BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Screenwriter. He also wrote the 2007 Children in Need “special scene” “Time Crash”.
He wrote a two-part story for series four in 2008, titled “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”. This made Moffat and series executive producer Russell T Davies the only writers to have contributed scripts to all four series of the revived show. In March 2008, Davies said that he often rewrites scripts from other writers, but “doesn’t touch a word” of Moffat’s episodes.
The BBC announced in May 2008 that Moffat would be taking over from Russell T Davies as head writer and executive producer for the revived show’s fifth series, to be broadcast in 2010.
He’s also the writer of the first Tintin movie, to be directed by Steven Spielberg (and passed on writing the remaining Tintin flicks to work on Dr. Who).
Much as I love Coupling and Jekyll, I guess I’ll need to catch up on Dr Who (which I can watch streaming on Netflix, whattaya know). But, back to Jekyll.
In addition to having awesome talent behind the camera, the series benefits from an outstanding cast, led by James Nesbitt as Dr. Tom Jackman, who may or may not be the descendant of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who has no descendants…it’s complicated. Jackman is our man of dual aspect, and communicates with his Hyde via a pocket dictaphone, leading to messages varying from “Why can’t you ever leave me a message about where you parked the car?” to “This guy has a knife, but use non-lethal force.” Nesbitt is excellent as both sides of Jackman, and as Hyde he’s fucking electric.
Not knowing about Tom’s hidden Hyde, his wife suffers through the resulting estrangement, until she too is drawn into his dual life. Gina Bellman, who played the hot airhead Jane on Coupling, is in fine form as a strong, smart, passionate wife and mother, forced to deal with the realization that she’s not just Mrs. Jackman, but Mrs. Hyde…and wait till her husband gets home. And what’s the deal with their twin sons…?
But this is no horrific domestic drama, it’s sheer pulp wonderfulness, as Tom realizes his daily routines — and secrets — are under close observation by some shadowy organization with lots of money and lots of power. And they, naturally, are very, very interested in getting their hands on Hyde for their own nefarious purposes.
The resulting story is full of wit, action, humanity, inhumanity, sexiness, brutality, surprise, and most of all HYDE.
As I said earlier, the story lasts just six episodes, but I was left hungry for more. I enthusiastically recommend the series, which I no doubt will be watching again in the near future.