‘Penny Dreadful’ is plenty delightful

Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

Showtime and Sky’s TV series
Penny Dreadful got off to a cute start. It takes place in Victorian London 1891 and our flawed “heroes”—an explorer, his mysterious female companion, an exiled American gunslinger and young doctor who goes by the name Victor Frankenstein—attempt to deal with supernatural goings-on.

With that sort of scenario, can Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, Frankenstein’s monster and Dorian Gray be far behind? Throw in a sinister spiritualist, an eccentric Egyptologist, a prostitute with consumption and a badass butler, and it gets really colorful.


Josh Hartnett and Reeve Carney who play Ethan Chandler and Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful PHOTO TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR AT THE SAN DIEGO COMIC CON

I say “cute” because much of it seemed a little bit close to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But stick around, learn more about the characters and their secrets, and you’ll be rewarded with something properly gothic and sexy, and of course dark and delightful. You’ll soon erase that comparison.

Penny Dreadful stars the amazing Eva Green (Sin City’s Ava Lord, 300’s Artemisia, Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynd) as enigmatic Vanessa Ives. She is an absolute joy to watch in this series as her character goes through various altered states—and she totally owns these scenes leaving the boys she’s with in the dust.

The other boys being former James Bond Timothy Dalton (who can keep up with Green) as the wealthy explorer Sir Malcom Murray; Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler; Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein; and Reeve Carney (looking properly androgynous and delicious) as Dorian Gray.

The sets are quite elegant—from Dorian Gray’s beautiful yet decadent parlor, to Malcolm Murray’s London home to the Grand Guignol’s theater that figures in several scenes.

Joining James Bond and Versper Lynd in this venture is the show runner and writer John Logan—who co-wrote Skyfall and currently writing Bond 24 and 25.

He also wrote the screenplay for Hugo and The Aviator and won a Tony Award for the play Red. Logan created each of the characters in Penny Dreadful and wrote each script for the eight episodes in the first season. He’ll also be working with Sting on the Broadway show, The Last Ship.

A 10-episode second season should be on its way next year. According to John Logan at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con, “Next season is very different. The cosmology and the theology of the show is much larger . . . Madame Kali, who appeared in episode two and briefly in the last episode, and her supernatural world will become the big threat in the second season.”


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