THAT WAS THE BOX – October 2015 (Week Four) | TV Reviews
‘JEKYLL AND HYDE‘ (ITV – ITV PLAYER)
I wasn’t going to watch this, as I’m usually a bit suspicious of tea time ITV ‘dramas’ and had a feeling it would be a rubbish ‘Doctor Who‘ rip-off aimed at kids. But the Daily Fail kicked up such a furore about the violence and gore, that I felt I had to check it out for myself, and I’m pleased to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
The drama starts with a prologue of London 1885 and a young girl witnesses a monstrous man kill another man and run away. It then switches to Ceylon, 1935 and a nice Indian family with a handsome, adopted British son called Robert Jekyll. He works as a doctor at his father’s clinic and seems a thoroughly decent young man, and when a runaway truck crashes into the building, landing on top of the little girl he was treating, Robert uses his super-human strength to lift it off her. However, something strange happens – and we know this, because weird CGI veins appear on his face – and he then presses his boot across the little girl’s neck, as if he wants to kill her. Oh dear. He quickly goes back to normal and lets the little girl go, but we now know that the nice young man is a monster in disguise.
On discovering he is set to inherit a fortune, our ‘hero’ comes to London, where a shadowy organization called MIO, headed by Richard E Grant, is eager to hunt him down. They stop at nothing, and when one of their men steals Jekyll’s ‘nice’ pills, all hell is unleashed, as he turns into a violent, over sexed, reckless monster who kisses girls he only met two seconds ago, and fights a whole bar full of other men.
Now, that’s the easy to understand version of the programme. Add to that a weird half-man half dog monster thing that’s called a Harbringer, weird shape-shifters and a sinister army general who thought nothing of burning alive Robert’s family back in Ceylon, and you have a pretty strange programme. But that was half it’s fun. It reminded me in places of a very ancient 1970s tea time programme called Dick Barton, which was a live drama crossed with a comic strip, and ‘Jekyll and Hyde‘ has the same feel. All the characters are magnified and over the top, and I get the feeling we won’t be weighed down with all the soul-searching and in-jokes that blight ‘Doctor Who‘. I’ve always considered ‘Jekyll and Hyde‘ to be an allegory to the monsters all men (and some women) have inside of them. Unlike the hulk, he doesn’t go green and turn into something that looks non-human, he looks the same, just a bit dishevelled. But let’s face it, even serial killers look normal.
When Robert was presented with a coat; and, given his head of lustrous dark curls, I did think we were in for some sort of ‘Sherlock‘ rip-off, given that this is a reboot of a Victorian classic, set in more modern times, but it was nothing of the sort. In some ways I wish they would let Charlie Higson loose on an episode of ‘Sherlock‘. I reckon he and Mark Gatiss could produce a really hammy, scary episode without the smugness that Stephen Moffat seems to bring to every production. Sometimes we don’t want emotion. Sometimes we just want to watch battles between good and evil.
Thank you Daily Mail, I am now eager to find out what happens to Robert, and hope that he finds romance with Bella, the sexy nightclub manageress (played my Corrie’s scary Kirsty – Natalie Gumedie) and not drippy Lily. I mean a monster of a man needs a woman who knows how to handle a hoover attachment in a time of crisis. Just don’t mention it to Tyrone Dobbs.
‘PROFESSOR GREEN – SUICIDE AND ME‘ (BBC3 – BBC IPLAYER)
It is a little known fact that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of forty five. That is a truly shocking statistic, that quite frankly needs to be addressed more. Rapper Professor Green’s own father, Peter, took his life seven years ago, aged just forty-three, and in this documentary, Stephen (Prof. Green’s real name) tried to get to the bottom of why so many young men feel compelled to end their lives. It’s a horrific thought that there are six thousand suicides a year in this country and 80% of them are men.
Stephen travelled back to Hackney, where he was brought up by his Nanny Pat (no, not that one) and we discovered that his parents had been teenagers when he was born. Unable to cope, his mum had left, and shortly after that, his dad had chosen his new partner over his son and from then on they suffered a very fractured relationship. Despite his neglect, Stephen loved his father a lot, and would stare out his window to try and see if he was coming to visit him. However, their relationship became more difficult as he got older, and the last conversation he had with Peter, was when he told him to ‘eff off’ because he wouldn’t commit to coming to see him. That may sound harsh, but unless you have had lived with a father like this, it’s difficult to comprehend how frustrating they are, and how, even as an adult, you blame yourself for their behaviour. Unfortunately for Stephen, shortly after that, Peter hanged himself.
Most telling of all was when he met with his dad’s former best friend, who revealed despite the fact that Peter’s mother had abandoned him as a child, his older brother had committed suicide and his sister had died of cancer, they never discussed their feelings, and this is clearly the crux of the problem. Women are biologically wired to talk about feelings and emotions and are not made to feel vulnerable or weak for doing so. So where depression is actually diagnosed more in women than it is men, I suspect this is because women seek help because they are in touch with their feelings and realise when something is wrong. Men’s tendency to bury their feelings and pretend that nothing is wrong, just leads to them internalising their anger and pain, and this spirals out of control leading to feelings of worthlessness and despair, and seeing no way out, they take their lives.
Stephen visited a house where men can go to talk about their feelings without feeling judged, and over the years they have saved hundreds of men from committing suicide. There should be more places like this, because in reality, you’re not going to change evolution overnight, and suddenly find men talking to their mates about the bad mood they’re in or how their colleagues are making them feel angry, or how upset they are because their partner’s cheating or whatever. That would be like expecting a bunch of women to stand around reciting every goal from every Manchester United match from 1992 to the present day. Some may well be able to, but more often than not, it will be the outcome of the match and not the technicality of the goal that would interest a woman. Additionally, how can a man get in touch with his feminine side when all it does is attract ridicule? One only has to witness the reaction to the Les Coker/Christine storyline in ‘EastEnders‘, to see this. Surely if a man feels comfortable dressing like a woman for a couple of hours once a month, and it helps him find an emotional release, surely this is better than him bottling it all up and going off and killing himself, leaving a family behind?
Anyway, I digress, as a woman, I guess the reason men commit suicide didn’t really come as a shock (most women have tried to get a man to talk about his feelings at some point), but it’s the sheer scale that’s frightening. The programme also highlighted how well Professor Green has done for himself, coming from a broken home, to now having a nice house, a very posh wife (Millie MacIntosh from ‘Made in Chelsea‘) and a thriving career. If his dad is somewhere out there, looking on, he should be proud.
‘DECTECTORISTS‘ (BBC4 – BBC IPLAYER)
I didn’t watch the first series of the award-winning comedy/drama written by and starring MacKenzie Crook (who I will always think of as Gareth Keenan from ‘The Office‘), but on reading the premise, I thought I would give it a try. To say it’s gentle is an understatement. Half an hour of my lift passed by and I’m still not really sure what happened. But that’s not a bad thing. The fact that it has ‘drama’ tagged onto it, allows it to have a story arc, rather than each episode like the traditional sitcom.
Crook is Andy, a stay-at-home dad, married to a posh wife, who is the breadwinner. He dreams of being an archaeologist, but is resigned to working for an agency that doesn’t seem to find him much work (been there done that mate) and so he fills his time hanging about with his best friend, Lance (Toby Jones) using metal detectors to find treasure. Instead they find things like ‘Blankety Blank‘ chequebook and pens, disappointingly signed by Les Dawson and so the most common of the collection.
The episode started with a flashback to medieval times where a monk was being pursued by some ner’do wells on horseback and he dropped something that looked valuable and I’m hazarding a guess that eventually our heroes will find it. Thus making the view eager to keep watching.
I especially enjoyed the scenes at the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (DMDC), which is headed by ex-cop Terry who is a pompous Little Englander in the now familiar Captain Mainwaring way, which is a staple of British comedy. The club is populated by nerds and weirdos and a cocky history student called Sophie, who thinks she knows it all, and was very impressed by the handsome young German chap who turned up to search for a messing plane that crashed in Essex in the war. Lance meanwhile appears to have taken his friends’ advice and turned to internet dating as we heard him arranging a date with a woman, on the phone.
I shall be tuning in next week to see what happens. ‘Detectorists‘ isn’t laugh out loud comedy like ‘The Kennedys‘ or in-your-face up to the minute stuff like ‘Chewing Gum‘. But it’s nice sometimes to just kick back and relax and let life pass you by.