Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and Gina Bellman

Lori and I stumbled across BBC America’s fantastic drama series Jekyll
a few weekends ago when we were surfing our On Demand channels,
and by the end of the first episode, we were hooked.

The six-episode first season,
which went out with a bang this past weekend, is a suspense thriller with an excellent
cast and an old story that somehow comes across fresh. James Nesbitt
is brilliant and believable as both Tom Jackman and his alter ego Mr. Hyde, the
lesbian private detectives
drive the plot forward and provide some necessary
comic relief, and Michelle Ryan, who I didn’t like in
Bionic
Woman
, nails her role as Tom’s mysterious assistant/nurse perfectly
here.

But the one who really impressed me the most was Gina Bellman
as Tom’s wife Claire. I’d only ever seen Bellman previously on the very funny
British comedy Coupling,
playing the fairly limited, over-the-top and occasionally annoying
role of narcissistic bisexual Jane.

Beyond thinking "Hey, that’s that actress who played the bi chick on Coupling,"
I didn’t pay much attention to Bellman in the first few episodes of Jekyll,
because Claire’s role was initially fairly small and mostly limited to wondering
why her husband kept disappearing for days at a time.

But once she discovered
his secret in episode three, Claire suddenly started to get interesting, and
in episode four, it was like "forget Tom’s alter ego, who is this other
Gina Bellman?"

In the second half of the series, Bellman showed a range I had no idea she
possessed.

From her teasing seductiveness in flashbacks of her first meeting
with Tom, to her mix of confusion and curiosity when she learned about Hyde,
to her bewildered outrage when she was taken captive by the evil corporation
out to get Hyde, to her steely determination to protect her husband
against himself and the evil corporation, both the character and the actress
began to steal the show.

The best moment of the fourth episode was when she
flung the hot coffee on her captor/former friend while remarking evenly, "Apologies
for the coffee" and stalking slowly off.

Add this to the lesbians’ hilarious banter, Nesbitt’s brilliant transformation
from Tom to Hyde, and plot twists that keep you guessing, and an already good
series got even better. If you’re a fan of Gina Bellman or well-written psychological dramas —
especially ones with smart, funny lesbians and a sleeper wife — you must
give this series a try.

If you don’t get BBC
America
(which is re-running the episodes and has them available On Demand),
you’re in luck — Jekyll is available
on DVD
in the U.S.

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