Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Magic Monday (On Tuesday): Penny Dreadful Review(So Far...)
Penny Dreadful is Showtimes newest "Horror TV Series" (aptly named after the British serial publications of the 19th century which featured "lurid" and "sensational" stories of fiction for only a penny a piece. One of the most famous being "The String of Pearls: A Romance" which later became famous for the character of Sweeny Todd) which features a host of popular (and public domain) characters from 19th Century Irish and British Gothic Horror's such as Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", Bram Stokers "Dracula" and Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Thus far the focal point of the series seems to be that of Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) Murray's search for his daughter Mina who has been "captured" by an evil creature, along with his long time ally Semblane (Danny Sapani) he has enlisted the help of a powerful and enigmatic medium Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) who then together hire the services of self professed gun slinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and later on Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and Brona Croft (Billie Piper) slowly coming into the fold via Miss Ives and Ethan respectively.
Three episodes in and we're still learning more about the characters, the intensity of one of Miss Ives visions and how terrifying they can be, some hints that Ethan isn't perhaps all he seems, Brona's illness, Malcolm Murray's possible transgressions and my personal favorite, Victor Frankenstein's pursuit of mastering life and death all of which have been capable of supplying us with some rather harrowing scenes. The poetic way in which Victor describes why the science of life and death is more important than any other is nothing short of an intensely beautiful and poetic monologue.
True to the tune of Bram Stoker's Dracula it seems to transpire that Mina has been captured/seduced/turned by the master of the Vampires in London (one would assume this to be Dracula himself?) and the gang are trying to hunt him down and save Mina with plenty of side stories along the way. Although they have made very little progress on their mission, the episodes we've had so far are still engaging and interesting which has the added bonus of really helping to develop ALL of the characters instead of just the main one or two who have actually remained the most mysterious so far (apart form perhaps Semblane who we don't really know anything about yet and so far just seems to be a rather kick ass manservant).
For me this was show was timed perfectly to fit into an empty slot left by the now cancelled TV show Dracula as the day after I finished I dove straight into Penny Dreadful and was certainly not disappointed, if anything this is even more dark and bloody, although sadly features less Johnathan Rhys Meyers and society politics which I became quite addicted to. I will say however that this feels very much like I wanted the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film to feel, albeit it would need to sort out the potential pacing issue but the characters feel more gritty and refined which I think was something the film was sadly missing. Penny dreadful is very hard to explain in any way other than "it's brilliant, go watch it". I think it's a potential marmite show in that I think you'll either absolutely love it or you probably won't really get it and will hate it, either way you owe it to yourself to check it out and give it a chance, especially if it's something you think you might like. Don't take my word for it though, check out the trailer below and see what you think, here's hoping the pacing picks up over the next few episodes though.
P.S Apologies for the Magic Monday becoming a Magic Tuesday again, here in the UK we had a bank holiday that actually had sunshine so I was kidnapped by the inlaws paired up with a stubborn laptop which doesn't like to be left on for two full days!