‘Penny Dreadful’ premiered on Showtime on May 11, and with the horror genre at its peak on TV, did the new show draw up enough big scares to stand out? Read on to see what the critics had to say!
With dramas like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead and the mass amounts of shows dedicated to vampires, werewolves and witches, it can be hard for a new horror show to solidify itself as original. Showtime is trying its luck though, joining the scarefest with Penny Dreadful, a play on the sensational British fiction published in the nineteenth century. With a new premise, did Penny Dreadful bring the horror to your TV screen? Read on to find out and tell us what you thought of Showtime’s take on horror!
‘Penny Dreadful’ On Showtime: Is The New Show A Bloody Hit?
The Showtime series is bringing to life some of literature’s classic monsters and weaving them throughout the story that takes places in a dark and dirty Victorian London. The 8-episode thriller follows American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) as he joins forces with Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) and Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) to take down paranormal monsters in London.
Even with the added pressure, Penny Dreadful is a surprising hit and never fails to showcase more blood, guts and gore than you could imagine. Here’s what the critics have to say about Penny Dreadful:
Penny Dreadful is an entirely new series that has familiar characters walk into the storyline but, thankfully, act in ways that haven’t been seen before… A genre series like Penny Dreadful — really a unique amalgamation — could have gone all kinds of wrong. But Logan, who has written each of the eight episodes, and director J.A. Bayona (who cements the overall look and feel of the series) keep things intriguing and fresh, fearful and entertaining.
Still, if Dreadful is a cluttered, unfettered mess, at least it’s a lively and stylish one, graced with a convincing sense of period, a sly sense of humor, and (for the most part) a very strong cast. Just be aware that watching requires a strong stomach: Blood doesn’t just flow in Dreadful, it pools.
Just as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Scandal provide a window into our fears about annihilation, greed and the consequences of venal ambition, the Victorians used sensational literature, sagas about wayward women and monstrous tales of excess to process their fears about modernization, industrialization and a society that was changing in terrifying and exciting ways. In the early going, Penny Dreadful does a fine job of capturing that social and personal unease… It’s also tinged with compassion, pain and an energetic sense of discovery. Even if you’re not a horror fan, you may well get sucked into its maw.
Penny Dreadful is by definition a gothic, steampunk horror show, and as such could be easily written off as camp. But the intensity of scenes like the séance, or scenes like the closing moments of “Night Work,” draw the show out of its genre underpinnings into something much more vital and revelatory. Add to that a cast of extraordinary talent, and the cinematic sensibilities of a film veteran, and Penny Dreadful offers a moody, bloody, dark fantasy that slowly unfurls more and more horror.
Writer-showrunner John Logan robs many graves and comes this close to ripping off Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Yet I dig Penny Dreadful as a twisted romance about our twisted romance with dark fantasy. It’s a Frankenstory made with borrowed bits and recycled parts that could evolve into its own vibrant creation.
HollywoodLifers, did you enjoy the premiere of Penny Dreadful? Let us know what you thought!
– Avery Thompson