Steven Moffat has most recently found fame in the Doctor Who series, for which he has become the head writer and showrunner, and co-creating another popular series, Sherlock, with Mark Gatiss.
But before either of these shows, he wrote a modern day adaptation, or rather continuation, of the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in a standard British 6 episode season, (or series as they call individual seasons across the pond). It was dark, twisted, insanely funny, and on a personal note, has had me wishing for James Nesbitt to play the Master in DW (they’ve just about announced that Cumberbatch has the role next and I’m sure he’ll be excellent, but then can Nesbitt have a turn?).
Sherlock and obviously Doctor Who have a sort of polish to them that was absent from Moffat’s nightmarish Jekyllverse, but for me that actually made the show even better.
Okay, so Moffat wasn’t as experienced writing in the hour long drama format, the budget was…well, they didn’t have a ton of money, and there are plenty of plot holes when all is said and done, but for what they had, they did a damn good job.
The lack of polish made the whole thing grimy and claustrophobic, but the protagonist’s key problem is that he’s trapped in and struggling to keep control of his own body, whilst psychologically fighting against another personality who wants the body just as bad. How much more claustrophobic can you get?
The name the protagonist goes by in the beginning of the series is actually Jackman, having been abandoned at a train station, without knowing his proper ancestry. And if memory serves, it’s actually the other personality that begins to call himself Hyde, before Jackman realizes, or perhaps simply admits he’s a Jekyll.
The make-up department are a bunch of geniuses. Hyde actually looks different than Jekyll does, but in several subtle ways. I can’t quite figure out what they did to him to make him look so changed.
|It’s more impressive to see the genuine article walking and talking, but: Dr. Jackman|
|…And Mr. Hyde|
It’s a project I suspect Moffat never felt he really got to finish properly. The entire series ends on a cliffhanger (I read somewhere that he wrote a second series, but the BBC didn’t pick it up). Lines of dialogue from Jekyll also tend to pop up in other Moffatt projects. My favorite example is this line from “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman, but I suspect injected with some work from Moffat:
Idris: Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing, only there’s a winner.
A recycled, kid friendly version of an exchange from Jekyll, that goes something like this:
Hyde: Have you ever killed anyone Benjamin?
Benjamin: Not personally. I have people.
Hyde: You’re missin’ out. It’s like sex, only there’s a winner.
Almost every actor from the series has reappeared in one of Moffat’s two currently running shows, neither of which are showing any signs of slowing down. DW is definitely safe, and the only danger to Sherlock is that the two lead actors are in such high demand, it takes several years to get a season (of which there are only 3 episodes, but each are an hour and a half) of it made.
Comedy-wise it’s very interesting. I find it very funny, but in the way that I feel guilty after I laugh at any of the jokes. It’s BLACK comedy. Hyde will say something truly horrendous, but outrageously funny and I’ll burst out laughing and then think, “that was horrible. I shouldn’t laugh at that…but it’s really funny.”
I could go on about it for hours, but I guess my point is, I personally like to see the source material of current film and TV makers. From a technical standpoint Jekyll isn’t the most successfully crafted series to air, but it’s a damn entertaining bit of TV and it’s far from bad. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite 6 episode series.
I’d encourage any Netflickers to give it a watch.