November is here and Halloween has come and gone. If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling that post All Hallows-eve depression. So for now, let us all be in denial and act like it is still October. Personally it is my favorite time of year. Not so much because of parties and such, but mainly for the supernatural element that comes with Halloween time. Although I am not a believer in anyway, I like to spend October entertaining the idea of ghost, ghouls, goblins and everything that comes with it. I usually entertain the idea with television. Documentaries, ghost hunting shows, and horror themed t.v. shows take up most of my free time in the month. Now unlike previous years where I bounce from program to program, this year I found myself hooked on one particular show. Penny Dreadful is a Showtime original series that I have been interested since I first saw the trailer waiting for a movie to start at my local AMC. With the show's third and final season appearing on Netflix this year, I figured I would finally get around to watching it.
If you took the premise of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and made it darker, you might be close to something like Penny Dreadful. Aside from forming a team of anti-heroes comprised of some characters from old English folklore and tossing an american in the mix, the two could not be anymore different. I will not go in to much detail about the characters, namely because some of them are used for reveals. What I can say is that the characters themselves are well crafted and put together. Each character is given plenty of time to develop. Motivations and back stories are well explained. Unlike other films/shows of this genre, you are never told everything about the characters early on. Practically all the way up to the series finale, you are still learning new things about the heroes and villains alike. Here is what I think is important and what the show does really well. The struggle between good and evil portrayed in the show is clear. From season to season there is not really a gray area there. The gray area instead lies with the characters themselves and in the dynamic of the team. Each character of the team is an anti-hero in every sense of the word, some even borderline on villainy. Each season the team is tested, both by the evil they face and the evil within.
Is the show scary? I say it is, although not in the traditional sense. The horror in Penny Dreadful is much more psychological and varies from season to season. From uncomfortable situations and downright disturbing scenes to fear of the unknown and fear of the evil within. The evil within is a theme that encompasses the majority of the show. A theme which every character deals with, but deals with it in vastly different ways. It's not all dark and heavy though, moments of comedy, comradeship, hope and love all serve to create a bit of balance. The themes and horror are all demonstrated beautifully by the way the show is filmed. Cinematography, lighting and composition all work together to paint a dreary yet believable vision of "old timey" London. It is all put together in a way that does not pull you out of its atmosphere.
Penny Dreadful is a show that gets under your skin, with characters that you can root for despite whatever evil resides within them. A combination of superb acting and brilliant directing make it easy for you to become fully immersed in its atmosphere and gripping story. It is a show that is not for the feint of heart, nor the weak of stomach I should say. I am not much of a horror fan by any means (except during October) but you would be hard pressed to find anything that would not spark your curiosity. Much like the American in the show after getting a taste of what is in store, I dare say that you will have an equally hard time resisting the urge to find out more. That said, the October/Halloween feeling can last just a little bit longer. Well, at least as long as it takes for you to watch all three seasons.
You can watch all three seasons of Penny Dreadful on Netflix
Penny Dreadful is a show that gets under your skin, with characters that you can root for despite whatever evil resides within them. A combination of superb acting and brilliant directing make it easy for you to become fully immersed in its atmosphere and gripping story. It is a show that is not for the feint of heart, nor the weak of stomach I should say.