Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

Penny Dreadful


Penny Dreadful. More like Penny Awesome. Oh my, that’s clever. It would appear cable television (in this case Showtime) has once again come up with a series that smacks of quality and authenticity. The show takes place in Victorian London and features a cast of characters who meddle in the forces of the unseen, monsters under the bed, and the mysteries of the world that science has not yet been able to explain–vampires and reanimated corpses who are not cartoonish but ugly, fast, and scary. I won’t go into a plot summary, but the show brings together characters steeped in myth and legend, some of whom originate in the foundational monster narratives of the nineteenth century.

What is the selling point, along with an interesting story and competent writing, is the set design, costumes, and casting. Victorian London is a dirty, industrial, dimly lit city that is home to Christians and occultists, and scientific discovery seems always on the cusp of realization. The exteriors of buildings are smudged with smoke and grit, the interiors are dimly lit, wood paneled, and roughly plastered, and look cold and foreboding. Living in one of these structures would likely give me the heebee jeebees morning, noon, and night.

And though the cast may be bordering on the pretty, the show does a credible job of uglying some of them up. Not on the scale of, say, the rebooted Masterpiece Theatre, where, for instance, the senior homicide detective is not a sexy ex-stripper who looks as though she spends hours a day in the gym but rather is someone middle aged, paunchy, with hair that is struggling, skin that is sallow, and clothes that are an afterthought. But I’m willing to overlook Penny Dreadful‘s cast of the nearly pretty and appreciate the effort that has gone into set design and costuming. And all the supporting cast looks as though they smell, bad, which is good.

There were a few moments of genuine creepiness and scary episodes. A scene where the female protagonist is praying fervently to a cross on a bare wall would have been creepy on its own (a pale-skinned, dark-haired woman praying on her knees in a long dress is always creepy, and if you wish to get your fill of this–and who doesn’t?–watch the show The White Queen), but something else happens which is just a little creepier, so this gives me hope that the show may be worth sticking with. But Sunday nights are really getting crammed so I hope that if anything new comes along, the powers that be find a different night to air.


See? Creepy, huh?






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7 replies

  1. Sounds like a good show. Some of the best series are on non-network TV or pay channels. I don’t have Showtime so I tend to binge on episodes when the DVD comes out. I’ll keep this one on my radar. Great title, too.


  2. I’m going to give it a try – but I’ll have to wait. I hate that I miss a lot of good stuff because they’re on non-network TV.


  3. I do not think it is possible to even ugly Eva Green up. The woman is a downright beauty and probably my top choice in Hollywood. She single-handily made the second 300 watchable and oh boy did she please the eyes! Thus getting to my point….the drawing power to me someday watching this show will be her. However as a horror fanatic…

    You just gave me another reason by saying that it has a ton of creepy elements!


    • You are so correct in how she made the second 300 watchable, though just barely. The movie felt like I was watching the preview for a movie and not the actual movie. So far the show has held my interest and it quite beautiful to look at. And creepy.


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