BBC’s ‘The Watch’ Is A Success In Hopefully The First Of Many Seasons To Come

Courtesy: BBC Studios/BBC America

More than six years ago when the British television network itv premiered its short-lived action series, Jekyll & Hyde, that series proved a big hit among many audiences.  Even with its popularity, the series ended up getting canceled after just one season.  The decision by the network’s heads to cancel the series due to pressure from certain group was a terrible decision.  That is because the series really could have been something great had it been given more of a chance.  Now years later, fans of BBC’s The Watch are hoping executives at that network do not make the same mistake with that series.  The show, which is an adaptation of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, ran for eight episodes from January to February of this year and was released to Blu-ray and DVD over the summer.  For those who have yet to watch this hopefully inaugural (and not only) season, it is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation.  That is even with the deviations from Pratchett’s original novels.  Speaking of which, the story at the heart of the show forms a strong foundation for the show.  It will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds to the show’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the show’s home release rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the show’s home release.  All things considered, they make the hopefully first of many seasons to come a success from beginning to end.

BBC’s The Watch is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation from which so many American network executives could take a hint.  That is because of how bland and boring so much American television programming is today in comparison to this and so many other shows from “the old country.”  The show’s success comes in large part through its story.  The story centers on a group of misfit law enforcement officers in an alternate dimension who for years had done little to nothing in the way of law enforcement.  That is because crime in the city that they “watch” has become largely legal.  The Watch’s officers – Capt. Sam Vimes (Richard Dormer – Fortitude), Cpl. Cherry (Jo Eaton-Kent – Lessons, Don’t Forget The Driver), Cpl. Angua von Uberwald (Marama Corlett – Guardians of the Galaxy, Blood Drive, Sick Note) and Sgt. Detritus (Craig Macrae – Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) spend most of their time just sitting in their office until one day when the young, naïve Constable Carrot Ironfoundersson (Adam Hugill – 1917, The Banishing, Sherwodd) comes along and shakes things up.  He and the re-emergence of Vimes’ former friend turned villain – Carcer Dunn (Samuel Adewunmi – Angela Black, You Don’t Know Me, Prime Suspect: Tennison) lead the officers to start returning to what The Watch once did.  It also leads the outcasts to grow personally and as a family of sorts as they work to try and prevent Carcer from achieving his evil goal.

Speaking of Carcer and his goal, he and his plan actually are just part of a bigger plot.  Not to give away too much here, but as the series continues, it turns out that Carcer is really just a pawn in a bigger plan by a group of unseen beings.  Many viewers might have missed this, but those beings really are a sort of updated take on the Gods in The Odyssey.  Just like they caused so much trouble for Odysseus in that timeless epic tale, these “gods” have their own plan for Vimes and company.  Keeping that in mind, that link between this show and such classical literature makes for its own appeal within the story.

As the story progresses, the character development that takes place within each of The Watch’s officers also plays into the story’s appeal.  Audiences will enjoy watching the growing relationship between Carrot and Angua in its subtleties, as well as Vimes’ own development.  Seeing him go from a “bottomed out” alcoholic police officer back to his former confidence is engaging and entertaining in its own right.  In the same vein, watching Cherry come into his/her own identity makes for its own interest, too. 

Getting back to the story itself, another big part of the story’s success comes in its overall execution.  Yes, it is a serialized show here.  However, the show’s writers somehow managed to make it feel episodic within the bigger picture of the serialized nature of the overall series.  The stories all connect but are their own from one to the next.  Now full discretion (and again, not to give away too much), the last episode does feel like it runs longer than it should have.  It seems like it could have wrapped itself up at many points, but then keeps going.  It makes one wonder how many hands were in the proverbial pot, considering this problem.  Thankfully it does finally end, and when it does, it leaves the door wide open for a second season that again BBC’s officials will hopefully provide.  That is because that second seasons is not only needed but deserved.

While the story featured in the hopefully inaugural season of The Watch does a lot to make it so enjoyable (even with the deviations from the source material in mind), it is just one part of what makes the show so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera does its own part to make the presentation engaging and entertaining.  Right from the top is Dormer’s work.  His take of Vimes throughout the show is the most notable.  The subtle way in which Dormer takes Vimes from a hopeless, alcoholic bum to a more self-assured, confident leader makes for so much appeal in itself.  That character development alongside his comedic timing throughout the show adds to the appeal in his acting, too.  Similarly, Eaton-Kent’s almost deadpan persona against the edgier presence of Corlett and the naivety of Ironfoundersson presented by Hugill makes for such a welcome contrast among the cast.  The cast members each make their characters’ personalities so rich yet controlled at the same time.  It shows such professionalism and in turn engagement and entertainment from each cast member.  Of course, one cannot ignore the work of Lara Rossi opposite Dormer.  Her matter of fact, “straight woman” persona opposite Dormer’s Vimes crates its own interesting character contrast that entertains and engages in its own right, too.

On yet another note, Wendell Pierce’s performance as Death is just as worth noting as the other cast members’ work.  The same can be said of Adewunmi’s work as Carcer.  Pierce’s performance, his very persona is so laugh-inspiring in the best way possible.  Instead of being this dark, evil character, he is just laid back, wishing he could be like any human whose soul he has to take upon their dying.  He even complains about it so often, stating, “No one ever listens, no one ever pays attention.”  He declarations and general presence makes Pierce’s work such a wonderful addition even being a supporting role.

Adewunmi does everything right that so many American actors get wrong in the way of playing an overly obsessed megalomaniac.  The subtle control in his anger is so gripping thanks to Adewunmi’s work.  The way in which he emotes, gives him an almost scary calm as he talks about bringing down the dragon to destroy the city and the whole world.  Even as he faces Wonse (Bianca Simone Mannie – Homeland, Vagrant Queen, Our Girl) in the final episode (again not too much will be given away here), accepting his fate, audiences cannot help but be gripped by that reaction.  It is just one more example of the importance of the cast’s work.  Keeping the cast’s overall work in mind here along with the impact of the story, the presentation becomes that much more engaging and entertaining.  Those items are just a part of what makes the show so appealing.  The bonus content that accompanies the show in its home release rounds out its most important items.

The bonus content that accompanies the show runs in a range of directions.  The lead, “Making of” feature takes audiences behind the scenes and shows how some of the program’s key scenes and characters were handled.  The discussion, for instance, on the determination of the show’s creative heads to avoid using CG at all costs really instills more respect for those efforts and the show.  The discussion in question comes as the costume and makeup officials talk about how they created the costume for Sgt. Detritus.  Watching the amount of work that went into the costume’s creation is awe-inspiring.  On another note, there is also a separate discussion in another feature that acknowledges the difficulty in staying true to Pratchett’s novels in creating this show.  The respect that is shown by all involved will hopefully encourage the show’s critics to change their minds about the program.  As if that is not enough, the character profiles do their own share to also show the importance of the cast’s work.  It compliments the other bonuses noted here and the rest of the bonus content to make the overall bonus content just as important to the presentation here as the cast’s work and the story.  When all three items are considered together, they make the overall presentation that is The Watch well worth the watch.

BBC’s The Watch is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining presentation.  Despite what many of its critics would have people believe, it is engaging and entertaining.  That is due in part to the show’s central story.  Yes, there are deviations from the source material, but few TV shows and/or movies based on books have ever been 100 percent true to its source material.  That is just sadly how it is.  Even with that in mind, the story here is still its own entertaining presentation.  From its ability to solidly balance episodic and serialized writing, to its very presentation, the story offers plenty for audiences to appreciate in itself.  The cast’s work joins with the story to make the presentation even more engaging and entertaining.  That is because each cast member’s work is so believable.  From one to the next, each performance is unique and bounces off the others just as well.  The bonus content that accompanies the show in its recent home release puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  It adds just enough background to enhance the viewing experience even more enjoyable.  Each item examined is important in its own way to The Watch.  All things considered, they make this show one of the best of this year’s new home DVD/BD releases for grown-up audiences.  One can only hope at this point that it will get a second season and that the BBC will not make the same mistake that itv made with Jekyll & Hyde.

The Watch is available now.  More information on The Watch is available along with all of the show’s latest news at:



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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:




More information on this and other titles from PBS Distribution is available online at:




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