Penny For Your Thoughts?
With horror television becoming almost mainstream entertainment with shows such as Hannibal, Sleepy Hollow and American Horror Story; it seems only logical that sooner or later the genre would go back to its gothic roots.
Enter Penny Dreadful.
Giving us the characters from classic horror tales of Dracula, Frankenstein and Dorian Gray with a twist and Billie Piper thrown in for good measure.
We start with a bang as chief protagonist Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) is on the search for his missing daughter who he believes has been kidnapped by the beast of the night aka a vampire.
To this end he forms an unlikely motley crue with the mysterious Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) and American fish out of water Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett).
The pilot does well to set the scene and introduce most of our characters and give at least purpose to most, whereas Murray’s motives are clear Chandler and Ives remain shrouded in mystery and we haven’t even got onto Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway)
From the casting choices Treadaway always looked the most risky, but he revels in the role of the creator of monsters and a haunted morphine addict to boot. He is a man who has gone beyond the point of return and now is just aiming to make his twisted existence liveable.
His tale amongst the others is the most true to its origins with some added surprises, but he pales in stature to Ives who engulfs each scene she’s in. It is only after the sixth episode that her mask is truly removed and we see what she’s all about.
It’s a bold move to have an entire episode devoted to a single character in your debut season, but you feel at that point that Ives requires the attention and it pays off and gives her greater depth and room to grow throughout the already announced Season 2.
Chandler remains a bit part player throughout weaving himself in and out of other characters plots, barring what seems a doomed romance with Piper’s dying prostitute Brona Croft.
The debut season of Penny Dreadful gives us enough to satisfy for the time being, but you have the feeling some plots were kept on the backburner so hopefully Season 2 and maybe beyond will give the show time to grow and really create its own mythology outside of its staple origin tales.