“Penny Dreadful” is Dreadfully Good!

penny-dreadful

If you have a taste for horror that’s complex, intelligently written, and well-acted you might find Showtime’s series “Penny Dreadful” a real gem! The title of the series hails from sensational serialized British literary entertainment of the 19th century that was pitched to working-class males, each installment of which cost a penny.

Now before your eyes glaze over, this framework unites classic literary horror characters of the 19th century, such as Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Dorian Grey, and others all updated and re-imagined in refreshing ways. Victor Frankenstein, for example (pictured), is portrayed as a young man, vital, intellectual, and with knowledge and capabilities light years ahead of the Victorian times.  His creations (yes, there is more than one “monster”) are not mute, shuffling brutes, but rather agile and articulate if socially impaired creatures who read and learn, grow, and suffer angst; they wander about London.  We are really starting to like the second-generation “Proteus” when the first-born unexpectedly appears to rip him apart.  Characters not presented in classic literature are also introduced, such as the dark and formidable Vanessa Ives, an at times demonically possessed medium and clairvoyant who reminds me of Wednesday Addams as she might have been in adulthood; a seance scene featuring her is absolutely incredible. Timothy Dalton, who has taken a turn as James Bond, portrays Sir Malcom, the leader of a group of Victorian-era “ghostbusters” including Dr. Frankenstein who are trying to retrieve his one daughter from a particularly nasty group of vampires.  Each team member has a unique skill set; these characters could do Mountain Monsters, and actually catch and subdue something!

It’s all wild stuff played seriously, and the series isn’t for the squeamish or the young as there is violence, blood, occasional nudity, and adult themes. The Victorian setting is recreated lavishly and with attention to detail; this is upper-level television, even if death and the supernatural as art. – – What furry elements are there is all of this? Well, in the last episode of the first season that has just concluded, one character when his back is hard pressed to the wall by bounty hunters about to drag him off in chains is revealed to be a werewolf!  I won’t reveal which character so as not to spoil the surprise for those who have yet to view the series or the episode, each of which has a dramatic twist of some kind you probably won’t see coming.  

With a dynamite ensemble cast and an underlying idea that hasn’t been visited since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this series is great for those who like psychological thrillers and dark horror.  Catch it on Showtime, or view it on Xfinity On Demand…

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2 Comments on ““Penny Dreadful” is Dreadfully Good!”

  1. carycomic Says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t give you own impression, pro or con. As my hometown cable provider didn’t participate in the Free Showtime Weekend!*

    *Probably because they’re allergic to _any_ promotional scheme using that other f-word. 😉

    • vulpesffb Says:

      Eventually, old episodes of “Penny Dreadful” will probably air in syndication on non-premium channels, and when it does, you gotta see it!


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