Sunday, May 11, 2014

Penny Dreadful - New show, Victorian horror

Penny Dreadful is officially starting tonight on Showtime. A Victorian Horror Series that brings together a number of archetypes and characters of the era's horror, it offers what the potential to sate one's Sunday night horror needs.

It's already an overstuffed night, with Game of Thrones, Veep, Last Week Tonight, Mad Men, etc. So I thought I'd take a quick look at the show's opener to tempt anyone looking for something new.

Now to be clear, this is a Showtime show. So that means, blood, gore, and sex will be included. I know most of us assume any drama show that appears on Showtime or HBO will have this stuff, it is worth reminding people who are bothered by that.

So to begin, Josh Hartnett has the question to ask as Penny Dreadful starts.

These are people out to kick some evil paranormal ass, if they can last the night. And, if they can trust one another.

In this group we have Vanessa Ives, a friend of the Murray family (she seems to be an old friend of Mina Murray -- who you may remember from Dracula), and quite a mysterious woman. She makes use of tarot cards. She seems to sense things as yet unexplained. And she seems to be able to stare down a vampiric (it's not clear what it was yet) being, at least for a few moments.

...And what is with all the spiders she sees?

It waits to be seen, who and what she really is, and just what part she is to play with the threat afoot in Victorian London. (And with Eva Green playing the role it should be an interesting role over the season.)

Another player on the stage is Ethan Chandler. He's an American cowboy. He has a shadowy history that marks him. He has been shrouding himself by playing up the European vision of The American. He also relies on drink and sex to push away his troubled past. In spite of it all, he's a killer. A master shooter, he hits his targets, even when it refuses to stay dead.

He's played by Josh Hartnett, who you may remember from a vampiric run in during 30 Days of Night.

Chandler is our outsider. He has seen and done bad things in his life, but the world of dark creatures is a new one. But he's packing a pair of six shooters as he descends into it.

We also have Sir Malcolm Murray. He's father to a missing Mina Murray, and is desperate to recover her. An explorer who has spent most of his life trekking across Africa, he's desperate to restore his child and world to normal.

He's played by Timothy Dalton, who we all know so well. But beyond playing Prince Barin in Flash Gordon, he's also been James Bond.

Malcolm Murray is a desperate man of iron will. One wonders if he'll allow anything to keep him from saving his daughter, or what he'd be willing to sacrifice for her?

He does indicate that both he and Vanessa are at fault for what has happen to Mina. We will have to see just what has happen. Is it a vampire? Is it Dracula? Is it some other force?

And how are they at fault? Did one of them bring the threat to England? Did one of them welcome it into the Murray house?

The threat that they face just isn't clear in the first episode. There are many clues pointing to a vampire, and when you have Mina involved, you do assume things. But then you'll start seeing evidence pointing to connections to ancient Egypt. Many mysteries are lain before the audience.

Much to learn.

And as to the question of learning, another key character was introduced with this episode. Victor Frankenstein (He isn't named until the episodes end.). Yes, he's a little out of time in the 1890's, but I think we can forgive that.

He's played by Harry Treadaway, who you should check out in Cockneys vs Zombies.

Frankenstein is an arrogant young man. He's utterly focused on his own quest to create life, having utter contempt for how tame most scientist, and most people are.

But he is intrigued by what the trio above bring him. It seems he will have a role to play.

But will he have a friend along for the ride?

You'll have to watch and see...

Or wait for my review next week.

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