Currently I’m in the middle of rewatching the first two seasons of John Logan’s stellar Penny Dreadful. For those of you who may not have seen it yet (and without giving too much away), the show revolves around four Victorian era characters who join forces to battle the things that go bump in the night in England’s capital. My brief summary of the show may sound a lot like the premise for Supernatural (2005), save for the Victorian setting and characters but I assure you it is on a much higher plane, no offense to Supernatural intended.
Be warned however, Penny Dreadful is often very dialogue heavy and at times I felt that studying William Shakespeare’s Hamlet had prepared me for it. Aside from some dialogue heavy episodes, the action sequences are slick, cool and frequent enough to justify all the dialogue and exposition. I’m not saying lots of dialogue is a bad thing, it most certainly is not, but the line between exposition and moving the story along does seem to blur from time to time in Penny Dreadful, almost as if the show gets lost in itself. This is not a bad thing however. The characters are so deep, with their own goals, motives, agendas and backstories that they feel real, not two dimensional or flat.
One character in particular, the medium Ms. Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) oozes with wit, charm and occasionally flirt, but beneath that mask lies a terrible secret waiting for the opportune moment to strike. My favourite character in particular, Sir Malcolm Murray, played brilliantly by Timothy Dalton, is a debonair explorer who acts as the leader of the group, although even he has his own blood soaked past that he is trying to forget. From this I feel that the actors portraying their respective characters are really engrossed in their roles, especially Eva Green who delivers knockout performances each time she is on screen. One thing I find hard to believe is the fact that no principal cast member has won an Oscar or similar award, save for Eva Green who was actually nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Vanessa Ives. This baffles me, as the acting in Penny Dreadful is a masterclass every episode.
But I digress, if you haven’t seen Penny Dreadful please go and watch it now. Especially if you loved True Detective. Although be warned, Penny Dreadful doesn’t hold back when it comes to the gory details and has deservedly earned an 18+ rating in England and Ireland.
Featured image is taken from the opening titles.