Before we get into the meat and bones of Jekyll and Hyde‘s final three cadaverous episodes, one thing should be addressed first: on the 5th of January, it was announced that plans for season two had been cancelled. For those of you that have been following my series of reviews, you’ll have probably picked up on my cautious attitude towards a show that I genuinely wanted to succeed, as for every fantastically gross creature, clever reference, and pulp adventure step forward, there were also the restraining shackles of slightly wonky execution, as well as having to adhere to the limitations of pre-watershed family entertainment. Urgh, will somebody please stop thinking of the children; they’re probably all watching downloaded copies of The Walking Dead on their iPads anyway!
Jekyll and Hyde received hundreds of complaints from irate parents thinking that another Doctor Who-esque treat was going to be put before them; and whilst the shows have many tonal parallels, the original source novella is still a gothic thriller in which people die violently and copious amounts of drugs are consumed. For myself, these are ticks in the box, yet the adaptation seems to have been roundly chased out of the village by an angry pitchfork mob for vaguely following that trend and updating it in areas, like making Hyde (Tom Bateman) into some kind of demographic-friendly lothario.
I was hoping that a second season might be shown at a later time, if not during the twilight hours, then certainly in the evening, when Penny Dreadful characters could merrily cavort with frenetic 1930’s adventure tropes with impunity; but no, aided by last-minute timetable changes, the viewing figures dropped from 4.8 million to 1.8 million viewers, so off to the stake we go for a good ol’ fashioned burning.
Nevertheless, before we roast our toasty marshmallows on the embers, let us exhume and unpack the last three episodes of the series to examine what worked within the show, and why ITV stopped backing a show that frequently teetered more towards headless horse than headless horseman…
The full 3,100 word version of this review is published at PopMatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.