Review: Penny Dreadful Season 1


A little while back, I watched the first season of this show and fell in love with it. It wasn’t hard to do so. It’s the sort of show I’d flock to no matter what went on in it, with all those classic horror characters hanging out and getting into scary shenanigans. I got lucky in that it was also well-written, well-acted, and generally fantastic.

The premise is that we get to see those Victorian classics that give us chills in a semi-realistic setting full of grit and drama. Stories like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Picture of Dorian Gray take center stage, weave in and out of each other, and create something entirely new. That’s where the uniqueness of this series really comes in. It’s not a straight adaptation. There’s enough there for fans to recognize all the pieces, but the twists abound. In great ways, so not even the stodgiest fan could bemoan how they ruined such-and-such book or character.

Frankenstein and his monster shined the most for me in that regard. There’s a major, sudden jolt from one type of story to another as the plot plays out, a reveal that is masterfully done and leaves your jaw hanging. Even aside from the shocks and thrills, their story as a whole gave me the same feeling the book did when I first read it. I remember feeling that Victor and the Creature were both equally sympathetic and wicked. The Creature was more like his father than he realized and vice versa. That comes across beautifully here.

The overall plot involves a play on Dracula, with lots of vampire hunting. We have Vanessa Ives, played spectacularly by Eva Green, who takes on a Lucy Westenra role. If my saying that makes you feel like you’ve got her part and the story as a whole all figured out, no, you don’t. Everything in this show comes with a twist or a catch or an all new perspective. Really what this show does best with things like having the Creature nicknamed Caliban or making Vanessa a stand-in for Lucy is hide Easter eggs. You needn’t know these things to enjoy the show, but they enhance the watching and highlight the show-runner’s cleverness and his obvious love for these stories.

I could go on about the fantastic performances and the cinematography and how the story kept me glued to my screen. At the end of the day, it’s the affection and respect John Logan, the show’s creator, has for these classics and this time period. What he’s crafted here wasn’t some goofball cash-in, using beloved characters for a slapdash story. It’s intricately woven and perfectly paced. It’s cohesive and makes perfect sense no matter what kind of fan you are. Everyone ought to experience this, and with it being nearly Halloween, now is certainly the time.

I hope I convinced you to give this show a try. If you would like to support this blog, check out my Redbubble shop. As always, happy geeking!


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