Showtime, Sundays 10/9 Central
May 09, 2014
Penny Dreadful feels like a more graphic version of ABC's Once Upon a Time, if the latter series were set in Victorian London and featured frightening, mysterious literary characters. Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) enlists American sharpshooter Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) to assist her and Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) in destroying a host of horrific, otherworldly creatures, all in the name of finding the one that took Sir Malcolm's daughter, Mina Harker.
The concept of a horror series exploring classic literary characters in the time and setting they were created in is an intriguing one. Penny Dreadful, however, doesn't develop an engaging story, despite its multiple intersecting storylines. The main characters feel overdone and forced. Case in point: the absolutely ridiculous séance scene where Vanessa's exaggerated performance is better suited to The Exorcist. The secondary characters are the more natural and interesting personalities, particularly the rakishly handsome Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) and the tuberculosis-suffering Irish prostitute Brona Croft (Billie Piper). The series does deliver on some of its promises: the interaction between Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) and his overly-emotional creation Proteus is sweet—which makes the appearance of Dr. Frankenstein's first and infamous Creature, as it tears its hands through Proteus' chest, ever more terrifying. Overall, it took Once Upon a Time a season to fall flat; Penny Dreadful does that immediately. (www.sho.com/sho/penny-dreadful/home)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 8/10