Ok, I couldn’t resist the pun on that. Seriously, Dorian Gray was the original right? A devastatingly handsome man given to all manner of vices and dark pleasures. However, unlike the the current version, this Mr. Gray really does have some truly dark sides to him and his ‘hidden room’ carries something far more sinister than anything the other one could dream of.
I’ve recently become OBSESSED with the show “Penny Dreadful”. I resisted it until now because I was convinced that it was just a tired re-hashing of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and while there are quite a few similarities, the show - at least to me so far - is getting everything right where the LoEG movie got it all wrong.
Side note: The graphic novel of LoEG is amazing!!!! So don't judge it by the movie
The series does a wonderful job of making a true Victorian horror show. There’s a wonderful juxtaposition of a penny dreadful play that a few characters go to enjoy with the actual show plot itself. They wonderfully mirror the over-the-top gore and frights, but while the play is entertaining with it’s fake blood and stage effects, the ‘real life’ dramas are all too gruesomely real.
If you aren’t familiar with the term a ‘penny dreadful’ was a popular serialized fiction genre in the early Victorian era that cost a penny. Feeding off the rise of “Gothic” literature that was becoming popular around the 1830’s, they were known for their tales of blood, gore, supernatural and mystery elements. Ironically around the time real life ‘dreadfuls’ were occurring (Jack the Ripper anyone?) the genre was starting to decline.
The show reflects these stories in the same way. It is bloody and sensational with mystery and supernatural elements thrown in. And let’s not forget the characters: Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature, An American Werewolf in London, Mina Harker (nee Murray) and ‘original’ characters thrown into the fray - Sir Malcolm Murray (Mina’s father) and Vanessa Ives (Mina’s childhood friend, who is being haunted by something extremely sinister). There are some other literary familiars that make cameos but why spoil the fun.
The costumes are fabulous and I love how the sets also lend to the atmosphere of the show. If I were taller I’d make an entire wardrobe of Vanessa Ives’ outfits. They really do need a more willowy frame than I have. I’m in love with her wardrobe. LOVE!
I could go on and on about what they’ve done with the literary characters and the clever ways they’ve joined them together, but I don’t want to give too much away.
All this to say that I really enjoyed the first season and the second season seems like it’s going to be a doozy. It does have some big flaws to me (I mean they kill these vampire like creatures way too easily) but overall they don’t take away from the sheer fun of the show.
It’s campy horror fun set in the Victorian era with supernatural creatures, possessions and literary lovelies all coming together to make a dang entertaining show. What's not to love?
At least in my humble opinion.
Anyone else watching? I’m dying to know your thoughts