Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Penny Dreadful review

So when Kerry reads this at some point, he's going to probably be upset because I had said we could watch this together. Then I got engrossed, cheated, and watched the whole season.

Penny Dreadful is a brand new series from Showtime that blends together the mysterious macabre, unearthly gothic, and classic literature into a fast-paced drama full of mystery and suspense.
Eva Green as Vanessa Ives from Penny Dreadful
Although the cast is large, much of the story centers around Vanessa Ives, played by the enigmatic Eva Green (Dark Shadows and Camelot). A young woman with a clouded past, she lives with Sir Malcolm Murray - played by Timothy Dalton of 1983's Jane Eyre - an explorer with and equally peculiar story. As the season unfolds, we learn of their relationship and connection. Sir Malcolm's daughter, Mina Murrary, was a childhood friend to Vanessa who disappeared a few years prior and is now being held by a creature.
Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray - Image via IMDB
The steady introduction of characters that follows only adds to depths of the story. To aid in their hunt, Vanessa and Sir Malcolm employ American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (played by Josh Hartnett, who has aged quite well I might add) and Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway of The Lone Ranger). Add into the mix the dark and brooding Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), and the literary mix starts to come to light. And of course there's Billie Piper for any Doctor Who fans.
Image via IMDB
Now if you're expecting classic Dracula and Frankenstein from Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, then you'll be in for a bit of a surprise. This story is very different, delving into the supernatural and the sensational that the original penny dreadfuls were known for.

Given the lurid content of these same originals, the show also has some rather graphic content, including its fair share of gore, sex, and language. This is not your typical Victorian gothic gaslight. So definitely not a recommended show for younger audiences or those who are aren't into blood.
Image via IMDB
The script and characters is what ultimately drives the show though (and what kept me wanting to keep going after the premier). With each new episode, a new layer of each player in the mystery is peeled back and the story gains one more puzzle that viewer must muse upon. By the end of the season (between sewing and work, I finished in about 5 days), I had figured out a few of the underlying story plots, but so many new ones had been opened up that all I wanted to do was watch next season. Like everyone else who found this spectacular new gaslight mystery though, I'll have to wait until next year.
Image via IMDB
So like any costume drama I watch, I have to do a quick review of the costumes. Penny Dreadful starts off in 1891, the tail end of the Victorian Era known as the Belle Epoque. Many of the designs fit within the design concepts that were notable for this period; the diminished bustle as it died away, and the start of the hourglass silhouette with its more tailored look. Most of Vanessa's costumes are spot on with the exception of minor details (Did high, pointed lace collars really exist?) and wardrobe choices for finishing off an outfit (Okay, we all know women wore some type of hat or head covering when out in public). For me, I'll pick at the small details like this, but it's not enough to totally kill my interest in the show.
What kind of collar is that?
The men's clothing is what intrigued me though since there was such a wide variety of it; the old explorer, the African manservant, the American gunslinger, the poor medical student. These were just a few of the varying costumes presented and each matched the character who donned it within the multiple scene settings that were presented.

For a Victorian supernatural thriller, this really is as the title presents - a Penny Dreadful that is certain to intrigue and cause sensation as it spins a new story of some classic literature's well-known stories. After all, with the tagline "There's some thing within us all," you'll definitely be in for a thrill ride.

Overall review - 4.5 out of 5
Costumes - 4.5 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. it could be great series for me - with dark atmosphere, mysterious heroes, great costumes and scenography (that is real eye candy). but... I don't know, first episodes were... flat? not absorbing? I forget about it right after watching, I had no apetite for more.