Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde deserves its place as one of our most popular gothic novels.
Indeed, it has spawned numerous imitations, ranging from the monstrous, homicidal Hyde of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen to James Nesbitt’s more human portrayal in ITV’s Jekyll. Here, the studio has gone light-hearted, turning Hyde into more of an antihero than the recepticle for all things nasty that the source material depicted him as.
As can be expected, Jekyll/Hyde (Tom Bateman) draws the attention of monster club Tenebrae, led by the sadistic Captain Dance (Enzo Cilenti), and a mysterious government agency helmed by the shady Sir Robert Bulstrode (Richard E Grant), all the while Jekyll attempts to find a cure for his condition, falling alternately for pretty student Lily (Stephanie Hyam) and nightclub owner Bella (Natalie Gumede). Pair in a number of strong supporting cast members (most notably Donald Sumpter as the original Jekyll’s assistant), and you have no shortage of acting talent on show.
Creator Charlie Higson has a strong flair for both comedy and drama, and these twin-talents both rise to the fore. Hyde isn’t that much of a bastard here, making him easy to route for, and his supernaturally enhanced strength is frequently played for laughs.
Also working in the show’s favour is its unpredictability – the direction it is heading in is never made clear, and some of the twists are genuinely unexpected – as is the surprising amount of none-to-subtle innuendo that is present.
With an ending that leaves things open for a second season, it would be a shame to see things finish here, especially with the TV universe allowing for more storytelling potential via the existence of additional monsters. We’re certainly surprised that we enjoyed Jekyll And Hyde as much as we did, but it’s definitely a welcome one at that.