Jekyll And Hyde (ITV)

Just watched S1E1 of ITV’s new Jekyll And Hyde and I’m very pleasantly surprised!

First, they’ve obviously spunked some money out on this as the cinematography and production values are very high. Next, I was impressed by the writing. The show’s creator, Fast Show blokey Charlie Higson said he wanted it to be ‘Downton with monsters:’

“It certainly would have livened Downton up a bit. It’s very popular, I’m not dissing Downton, but I’d have watched more of it if it had a guy with a giant lobster claw turning up and smashing everything to pieces.” (Source)

The whole slot is pitched to compete with the BBC’s successful Dr. Who and there are some similarities but, overall, I think I actually prefer JaH, judging by this first ep. It’s very, very reminiscent of the campy, horror-lite tone of Stephen Sommer’s 1999 The Mummy in that there are thrills and spills but nothing really that disturbing.

Tom Bateman as Jekyll (and Hyde) is perfectly cast. When Jekyll, he looks suitably foppish and gentlemanly and then, when he Hulks-out, there’s a bit of CGI transitioning but it seems, so far at least, to be a lot of the actor just inhabiting the role. Maybe I’m wrong there and they’ll CGI him like they did the Hyde in LXG but that would be shame.

Before I go: Richard E. Grant. To be honest, I would watch anything with Grant in it, even a cricket match. The man is a grade-A loon and a national treasure. He’s quite, quite delicious in this so far, as the leaded of Military Intelligence Other, the secret monster wrangling squad of HMG. Check out Grant’s beautiful, autobiographical film Wah Wah if you want a peek at the insides of this extraordinary man. Here’s what Bateman had to say about working with Grant:

Quite bizarre. The first scene I had with him, we were in this garden and I grab him, pin him up against this wall, and smash his face in. It was quite odd texting my mum, saying: “Hi. Yeah, I’m just pinning Richard E Grant up against a wall.” The guy is hilarious on set and off set. He’s obsessed with smells. In this garden on the first day, he’d smell everything. Even in the studio he’s walking around just smelling the tables, smelling people’s coffees. Quite a bizarre man. He’s kind of mental. (Source)

Ever since Kolchak, I’ve been a sucker for Monster Of The Week series and after this promising start…. fingers (and claws) crossed.