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TV Review: Penny Dreadful

Penny-DShrewsbury, Massachusetts- John Logan is one of the best screen(and play) writers working today. With stunning plays like Red and hit films like Skyfall and Gladiator, he is a talent unlike any other. It seems only natural for him to branch out and to other mediums and it appears television is his next stop. He has decided to craft a gothic horror series that is quite a sight to see.

In Victorian London, American sharpshooter Ethan Chandler is hired by the mysterious Vanessa Ives to accompany her to a strange establishment. Chandler is suddenly thrown into a world of the unbelievable happenings and people. With the  help of Sir Malcolm Murray and an trailblazing doctor by the name of Victor Frankenstein, Chandler and Ives form a group that investigates bizarre happenings.

Penny Dreadful is a show that sounds an awful lot like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in concept, but is much more cerebral in its execution. Logan has a knack for taking classic tropes and beloved characters and making them fascinating. Unlike his other film projects, this is more of a place where Logan has more creative control and when he does, he does some remarkable work (as his plays demonstrate). Penny Dreadful is a wonderful piece of horror television that is a nice middle ground between the gorgeous stylized Hannibal and the insane camp of American Horror Story.

The cast is incredibly diverse and everyone brings a dedicated performance to the table. Josh Hartnett is very good as Ethan Chandler and his service as a conduit for the audience is good. Timothy Dalton fits into his role as Malcolm Murray very well too. Billie Piper is showing some sparks as Bona Croft, a woman looking for escape from her past. However the one that trumps them all is Eva Green as Vanessa Ives. She brings a cold power to the proceedings and her performance in the second episode’s séance is a wonder to behold.

The gothic television show is nothing new to television, but Penny Dreadful approaches it with such finesse, that it’s hard to not watch it. It’s got some serious confidence on it, introducing its characters over the span of two episodes (which is a quarter of its season).  It’s fun television to watch and well worth a look when you’re looking to see Dorian Gray and Frankenstein team up.

Penny Dreadful is on Sundays @ 9 pm on Showtime. 


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