PBS Distribution, itv’s ‘Jekyll And Hyde’ Home Release Will Hopefully Bring This Underappreciated Show Some New Life

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution

Ahhhhh ,’tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.  Everyone knows that old adage about relationships.  The thing is that the saying can just as easily apply to other areas of life, such as finding a television show that one enjoys, only to lose that show too soon through cancellation.  In those cases, audiences have to remind themselves that at least for that moment, they had something they loved, if only momentarily.  Such is the case with British television network’s short-lived action/drama, Jekyll and Hyde.  The series ran from October to December 2015 on the British television network itv, but thanks to itv and PBS Distribution, the series, which was canceled after only one season, is getting another chance to be loved.  That is because the two sides partnered to release the show on DVD March 9.  Regardless of whether audiences are new to the show or original viewers, each side will agree that the show’s rebirth of sorts is a welcome return.  Odds are it won’t help the series get some surprise second season, more than five years after the show’s original cancellation, but it will still provide audiences with at least 10 great stories.  Those stories serve as the foundation for the series’ new DVD release.  They will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own appeal to the series’ enjoyment.  It will be discussed a little later.  The collective sets, costumes, and special effects round out the most important of the show’s elements.  This will all be addressed later, too.  When that is all considered along with elements, such as the show’s cinematography and editing, too, that overall whole makes Jekyll and Hyde a series that shows in its new home release, it more than deserves if not a new season, at least a movie.  Even if it doesn’t get that much, this home release of Jekyll and Hyde proves itself a presentation that horror and science fiction fans everywhere will enjoy.

British TV network itv and PBS Distribution’s new home release of itv’s short-lived series Jekyll and Hyde is a presentation that so many audiences will appreciate and enjoy.  That is due in absolutely no small part to the series’ story.  The story in question finds a young Dr. Robert Jekyll dealing with his curse as he fights an evil monster organization called Tenebrae in Victorian-era London.  In the process, Robert is also trying to make sense of his past, of which he knows next to nothing.  Prior to fighting the evil monsters, he had lived in India with his adoptive family, even then fighting his curse.  A letter that he received about his grandfather’s estate is what brought him to London in the first place.  The whole story has such a comic book feel, most specifically that of Hellboy.  At the same time, domestic audiences will also manage to make comparisons to the likes of other American science fiction shows, such as Fringe and The X-Files to a slightly lesser extent.  The Hellboy comparison should come as no surprise.  The show’s heads even mention in the “Introduction” in the set’s bonus content that the superhero feel that the show exhibits is fully intentional.  The story starts off a little slow and does leave audiences with some questions, but luckily those questions are gradually answered as the story progresses.  Even the fashion in which the questions are answered makes for a comic book vibe, even though apparently this series is not adapted from any comic book.  Much the same can be said of the dialogue here.  It is just as superhero/comic book-esque, and will be discussed more when the cast’s work on camera is addressed.  All things considered here, the story featured at the center of Jekyll and Hyde makes for a solid foundation for this wonderful show.  It is just a part of what makes the show so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own share of enjoyment and engagement to the whole.

The cast’s work is so notable because of everything that it adds to the show.  As noted, this show was intentionally presented in a very distinct superhero/comic book fashion.  As most audiences know, such style presentation makes it easy for characters/actors to go over the top and really ham it up (sometimes too much).  In the case of lead actor Tom Bateman, he balanced both of his roles (Jekyll and Hyde) so well throughout.  The confident swagger that he presents as Hyde and the growth that he helps Hyde show throughout is applause worthy in its own right.  That is because of the control that Bateman uses in his performance.  At the same time, those moments in which Robert is facing his existential crises, Bateman does just as well to control his performance.  Those moments have been and are far too often overacted by other actors in other shows.  Thankfully, Bateman did not let himself fall victim to the moments.  Rather, the way he handled the moments made his performance all the more engaging and entertaining. That balance of personalities and presentations from Bateman makes his performances through the show another bright spot.  Of course his performance is just one of the many that shines here.  That of Donald Sumpter, as Garson, is another notable performance.

Sumpter’s take on Garson is important to address because of its unique presence.  Garson is, for all intents and purposes, the straight man to Bateman’s evocative lead.  The subtle way in which Sumpter exhibits Garson’s concern for and friendship with Robert makes for an interesting juxtaposition to Bateman’s performance.  One can almost sense a certain fatherly concern from Garson for Robert, not just a friendship.  That is not to say that audiences should compare the duo’s relationship to that of a Bruce Wayne and Alfred, but it is there regardless, just with more of a lighthearted feel.  Sumpter’s sometime deadpan delivery adds to that lighthearted nature, making for even more entertainment and engagement.

For all of the entertainment and engagement that Bateman and Sumpter bring to Jekyll and Hyde, their performances are but a bit of what makes the cast’s work stand out.  Natalie Gumede’s take on Bella will appeal to men and women alike.  She does so well to make Bella both a strong, confident figure, and feminine at the same time.  That is evident in the swagger that she gives Bella.  That balance of confidence and vulnerability does well to make audiences want her and Robert to end up together even more so than Robert and Lily.

Speaking of Lily, Stephanie Hyam’s performance in the role does well in its own right to make her a red herring of sorts.  Right from Lily’s first meeting with Robert, audiences know something isn’t right about Lilly, that she is not all she seems to be.  That proves to be exactly the case as the show progresses.  At the same time, Hyam does so well to keep it from being too obvious.  She makes Lily’s reluctance to fully commit herself to Robert clear that something is up, but the controlled fashion in which Hyam handles the duo’s interactions keeps viewers guessing at what is really going on, especially as Harry is introduced.  All things considered here, Hyam’s performance is just as important to this show as the performances of her cast mates.

One more performance that is worth noting in examining the cast’s work is that of Christian Mckay as Max. Max is one of the first people that Robert meets when he arrives in London, and quickly becomes more friend than acquaintance.  As with Sumpter, McKay’s performance alongside that of Bateman makes for its own share of entertainment and engagement.  The somewhat skittish personality that McKay brings out in Max opposite Bateman makes for a lot of funny moments.  The duo’s performances together are important to note because in comparison to Bateman’s performances alongside Sumpter, these moments make Bateman more the straight man and McKay more the comic relief.  It serves well to help show Bateman’s versatility as an actor while also showing Mckay’s own enjoyable talents.  Between McKay’s performance and those of Hyman, Gumede, Sumpter, and Batement (the majority of the show’s lead cast) no doubt is left as to the importance of the cast’s work.  One could just as easily cite the work of Richard E. Grant as Bulstrode, Michael Karim’s supporting role of  Robert’s adoptive brother Ravi, and even Tom Rhys Harries’ subtle but still engaging take on Sackler as proof of that importance, too.  Either way, the fact of the matter is that the cast’s overall work stands out throughout the series.  The cast’s ability to interpret the scripts brings the story even more to life and immerses audiences even more into the show.  It is another tribute to the cast’s work and the show itself, proving even more why this show deserves so much more respect than it got in its initial run more than five years ago.  It is just one more example of what makes the show just as entertaining and engaging all these years later as it was in its initial run.  The collective sets, costumes, and special effects put the finishing touch to this show.

The sets, costumes, and special effects are so important to address because of their aesthetic impact.  While sadly not discussed at all in the bonus content featured with the show’s new first-time DVD release, it is deserving of its attention.  Audiences will be in awe as Garson reveals the original Dr. Jekyll’s lab to Robert early in the series.  The cobwebs and dust that covers everything succeeds in making the lab look like something right out of an old Universal horror flick.  In the same breath, it looks increasingly like something out of a comic book as Robert works to restore his grandfather’s old lab.  That is evident in the vibrant lighting and the cleaned up lab equipment.  It almost makes one think of the bat cave for lack of a better comparison. 

On another note, Grant’s MIO office, as simple as it is, is strangely appealing with its gothic look.  The large sculpture that hangs behind Grant looms over the set.  What looks like a sun carved into the sculpture is interesting considering that MIO’s mission is a sort of Men in Black type quest: to keep the general public in the dark as it battles dark forces.  Yet here is this sun-type presentation behind him.  The sun is light and life.  So it’s almost as if it is meant as a sort of intentional, subtle statement about MIO bringing life by combating darkness and keeping people in the dark about those battles against dark forces.  It really adds so much to the importance of the show’s sets. 

On yet another hand, the Empire music hall shows in its own way, the importance of the sets.  The inside and outside looks so time appropriate.  The stage lights are built into the stage floor, as lights in that era were known to be done.  The curtains, tables and piano, and even the marquee outside the building are so eye catching in their own right.  The seemingly period proper set makes for such a contrast to Grant’s MIO office and Jekyll’s lab.  It almost comes across as a source of ease and relaxation against the sense of tension created in the other two sets, proving its success in helping set the mood as audiences watch.  It also leads into a discussion on the costumes and their importance.

Just as the Empire transports audiences back to the roughly 1800s, so do the cast’s costumes and even costumes.  Robert’s fine suits and the ladies’ dresses and gloves help enhance the setting.  The same can be said of the cars.  It takes audiences back almost to the turn of the century.  That contrast of such a spectacular story taking place in such an era makes for so much more engagement and entertainment.  Add in the special effects, such as Robert’s transformation into Hyde (which is simple in its own right, but still powerful) and the disturbing presentation of the Reaper as it goes from host to host, and audiences see even more how much work and time went into making Jekyll and Hyde fully immersive, entertaining and engaging.  When result of the time and work spent on the show’s sets, costumes and special effects is considered along with the result of the cast’s acting and that of  the story itself, the whole makes this show a presentation that   every science fiction and horror fan will enjoy and appreciate even in just one season.  With any luck maybe the renewed popularity of and interest in the show will lead to a deserved rebirth of the show either on the small or big screen.  If not, then oh well.  Audiences will at least have this short-lived standout series to enjoy anytime they want.

PBS Distribution and itv’s new domestic home release of Jekyll and Hyde is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that every horror, science fiction and comic book fan should see at least once if not more.  It only lasted one season, thanks to complaints from people who are far too easily offended and by ratings (supposedly), but now it will hopefully receive the respect that it deserves even years after its initial television run ended.  Its appeal is due in large part to its story.  The story is very much a comic book/superhero type presentation, even though it was not adapted from a comic book.  It succeeds quite well, too throughout.  The work of the show’s cast builds just as successfully on the foundation formed through the show’s story, making for even more enjoyment and engagement.  The time and work that went into presenting the show’s sets, costumes, and special effects puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  It makes the show that much more believable and immersive.  When it is considered along with the show’s story and the work of the show’s cast, the whole of all of that content makes this presentation in whole a must see, again, for so many audiences.  Jekyll and Hyde is available now.  More information on this and other shows from itv is available online at:

Website: https://itv.com


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EOne’s New Horror Comedy Is Full Of Frights And Fun

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

One part stoner flick, one part buddy comedy, and one part horror spoof, Entertainment One’s new horror comedy Knights of Badassdom (yes, that’s really its title) is an outrageously over-the-top  story that any of today’scollege frat boy audiences will enjoy watching at least once.  It’s obvious right from the story’s outset that it was not meant to be taken with a single grain of seriousness.  It centers on a group of twenty-something friends that have to face off against a succubus from Hell after their obsession with live action role playing (LARPing)—yes, that is a real thing, not just something cooked up for this movie—goes a little bit too far.  The completely outrageous script behind this story is central to its intended audiences being able to enjoy it.  Equally important to the story’s enjoyment is the acting on the part of the cast.  And of course, what home release is complete without its special features?  There are actually some interesting tidbits shared through the movie’s bonus features that make the movie more interesting.  Those tidbits, the cast’s acting and the outrageous, over-the-top story make this indie horror spoof a movie well worth watching at least once.

Co-writers Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wallhave crafted a story in Knights of Badassdom.  Dreyfuss and Wall have done so much with so little that it is difficult to know where exactly to begin in examining their script.  On the surface, Knights of Badassdom works because of its silly factor.  It is just a good, fun, and slightly gruesome turn-off-your-brain flick.  It’s one part stoner flick, one part buddy comedy, and one part horror spoof that has absolutely no intention of taking itself the least bit seriously.  On a deeper level, one could argue that there’s a story of a group of men forced to grow up if only a little because they got what they’d always wished for and then some during their make believe games.  That’s thanks to them having accidentally unleashMatted a succubus from Hell during one of their imaginary ceremonies.  At first the five friends think that they’re just taking part in a weekend of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing)—yes it is in fact real and not something conjured up for this story.  But when people start turning up dead, they start to realize that there is an evil force among them.  The friends—Hung (Peter Dinklage), Gwen (Summer Glau), Eric (Steve Zahn), Joe (Ryan Kwanten), and Ronnie Kwok (Jimmi Simpson)—end up having to face that evil force and stop it once and for all, essentially allowing them to finally live out their make believe fantasies for real.  Any viewer that can take this movie for the all-out nonsensical work that it is will appreciate all of the inanity (and insanity).  Those viewers will agree in watching the story that it is funny enough that it is worth at least one watch.

The story behind Knights of Badassdom has so many different facets about it that even as intentionally nonsensical as it was, it was still entertaining.  Helping the story’s entertainment was the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  Led by actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), the cast’s interaction with one another throughout the story made for more than a few laughs.  And their portrayals of the stereotypical people in the role playing culture are just as entertaining.  One can’t help but laugh watching Steve Zahn as the wanna-be wizard, casting his “spells.” And Jimmi Simpson’s portrayal of the controlling, somewhat egotistical “game master” Ronnie Kwok is a complete laugh riot. Both Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage add their own charm, to the mix, too. The whole cast together will have viewers laughing nonstop right to the final scenes.

The movie’s cast and its interpretation of the movie’s script work together to make it a surprisingly entertaining work. It’s the cast’s interpretation of the script that makes all of the total absurdity believable and entertaining all at once. There is still one remaining factor in this new release from Entertainment One that makes it the surprisingly enjoyable work that it is. That last factor is the movie’s bonus material. The interview with director Joe Lynch is the best of the bonus features. Lynch discusses in his interview his love of the classic 1980s horror flicks and how that influenced his direction on this movie. Even more interesting is his mention of special effects company Spectral Motion making the monster and handling all of the special effects for this movie. He discusses how he wanted to have an actual monster and real special effects versus the far too overused CG effects employed by Hollywood’s biggest studios. That devotion to using the physical versus the digital made a big difference in the movie. Sure the monster looked cheesy. But as Lynch notes in his interview, it was supposed to look cheesy.   It was part of that homage to the 80s monster movies that Lynch grew up watching. Audiences will be amazed even more to learn that Spectral Motion is the company behind the creatures seen in Hellboy and Hellboy II. That such a well-known and equally respected company would offer its services for an indie horror flick—an indie horror spoof even—speaks volumes. And it paid off in a big way. Audiences will appreciate Lynch’s interview when they see it in its entirety. They will also appreciate the acting on the part of the movie’s cast and the script, penned by co-writers Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall. Audiences will appreciate all of these factors and more that they will find for themselves when they order the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be ordered online now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Knights-Badassdom-Blu-ray-Peter-Dinklage/dp/B00HOGRJQG/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1398801394&sr=1-2&keywords=knights+of+badassdom.

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Danny Phantom Complete Series Set Is Loads Of Ghostly Fun For All

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Nickelodeon’s programming today is comprised largely of live action sitcoms aimed at teen viewers.  However, from the early 1990s up until the mid-2000s, the network was known more for its vast array of cartoons.  It’s “Nicktoons” were its heart and soul.  While Nickelodeon does have some cartoons today, the network’s sole remaining real Nicktoon is Butch Hartman’s hugely successful series Fairly OddparentsFairly Oddparents is a standout series, too.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t his first series to have the honor of being added to Nickelodeon’s list of beloved Nicktoons.  His first notable “Nicktoon” was the short-lived supernatural series Danny Phantom.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans of Danny Phantom will be able to own the complete series in one box later this month.  Danny Phantom only ran for three seasons.  In its defense, it could be argued that this was because it was ahead of its time.  That aside, series creator Butch Hartman and his writers crafted a number of enjoyable episodes throughout the show’s short run.  Just as worth noting about this new upcoming box set is that is alleviates some minor problems raised in the box sets containing the series’ second season.  Lastly, those that know their Nicktoons history will appreciate the voice talent that made up the series’ cast.  That who’s who of voice actors combined with the enjoyable stories, and the fact that they are all available together for the first time collectively make this upcoming set well worth picking up for any Danny Phantom fan.

Fans of Danny Phantom: The Complete Series  will appreciate this new complete series set first and foremost because it presents the series’ entire three-season run in one complete box set.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released three complete series sets from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Angry Beavers.  Those sets proved to actually take up far less space on DVD racks than the stand-alone season sets that had originally been released.  This set is no different.  All nine discs that make up all three seasons are included in this box.  Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have sweetened the deal even more for fans in that they have maintained the established wise packaging that was used in the aforementioned complete series sets.  The discs are placed inside the box on either side of their own “insert” with the ninth and final disc being placed in its own spot inside the back of the case.  As with the previously noted box sets, this protects the discs and allows the episodes contained within each one to be enjoyed much longer.  It is the starting point of what audiences will appreciate about Danny Phantom: The Complete Series.

The packaging for Danny Phantom: The Complete Series is a good starting point in discussing everything that makes this box set well worth its price.  The episodes contained across the set’s nine total discs make the presentation as a whole even more enjoyable.  It would be easy to say that because its main characters were high school students, Danny Phantom was just another program aimed at audiences of the same age. To a point, it could be seen how teen audiences would take an interest in the series.  Case in point, one of the series’ story arcs involved a potential inter-racial romance between Danny and black classmate named Valerie Gray (voiced by Cree Summer—The Cosby Show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, etc.).  It really is a sign of the times that the show’s writers would include this without making a big fuss over it, either.  It is a subtle, but nice addition to the series.  There are also the constant struggles to balance trying to be a regular teen with being a superhero. But the jokes that are tossed in each episode aren’t above some younger viewers, either.  So while teens might have been the primary audience, younger viewers would have obviously enjoyed the show, too.  The same applies to today’s teens and pre-teens, too.

The packaging and writing that make up Danny Phantom’s episodes are collectively a big part of what makes the series so enjoyable even for today’s younger audiences.  There is at least one more aspect of the series’ new set that audiences will appreciate in examining the presentation as a whole.  That aspect is the series’ voice cast.  The series’ primary cast reads like a who’s who of voice acting.  It has already been noted that veteran voice actress Cree Summer is part of the primary cast (even though she doesn’t come into play until the second season).  Along with Ms. Summer, Grey DeLisle (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Clifford: The Puppy Years, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, etc.) Kath Soucie (Futurama, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Beauty and the Beast, etc.), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.) and a whole slate of others each play roles in the series.  Fans will also recognize the voices of Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, Hellboy & Hellboy II), Martin Mull (Roseanne), and the man who is perhaps the busiest male voice actor in the business, one Frank Welker (Curious George, The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, etc.)  Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Taylor Lautner (the Twilight saga), and the late David Carradine even make appearances throughout the series among so many other big names.  If the massive list of A-listers that play roles in Danny Phantom isn’t reason enough to check out the new Danny Phantom: The Complete Series box set, then one need only set that alongside the enjoyable writing and the equally wise packaging to see just how worthwhile this set is for kids and kids at heart.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, January 28th.  It can be pre-ordered online now from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/danny-phantom-complete-series.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.