Interlude: Penny Dreadful

For the past couple of weeks, Mrs. Hatboy and I have been watching the gritty reboot of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also known as Penny Dreadful.

It’s … hard to quantify. On the one very easy hand, it is immensely better than LXG (as I seem to recall it was acronymised, yet another point against it in my book). On the other, more difficult hand, it’s still taking a great setting and a number of amazing stories, characters and ideas, and somehow failing to make something equal to, let alone greater than, the sum of its parts.

At this stage (at the point of writing this, we have just finished with Season One), it’s hard to see where they’re going with it. The Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dorian Gray and Discount Allan Quatermain plots are all bound to intertwine more and more and the results are not going to be pretty for anyone involved. There’s plenty of sex and violence, but it doesn’t seem gratuitous – at least to my HBO-jaded eye. So it’s solid adult-horror all the way. And the little references and the overall setting is a lot of fun. The whole thing is a pleasure to watch – I just … I’m not sure what they’re playing at. And that shouldn’t matter, and yet it does, and that means something but I don’t know what.

Timothy Dalton is … no, actually, scrap that. Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, and basically everyone else in the cast are perfectly decent actors, give or take a bit of over-hype about some of them (I will name no names until – if and when – we get to debating this in the comments), and they all end up with apparently little to do. Maybe that’s a risk of an ensemble cast and an over-stuffed classic-character manifesto. Eva Green in particular has some great scenes and potential, but winds up wasting a lot of effort trying to be Regan MacNeil.

Rose Tyler, I mean Billie Piper, does a reasonable job as a Northern Irish lady of the night, and Josh Hartnett seems to be making a real go of following Brad Pitt from Pretty Boy to Actual Actor. The supporting cast are also very good, and ‑

I’m just going to stop the review here, because I looked up Regan MacNeil on Wikipedia in order to get the spelling right, and I learned that the name of the demon she was possessed by in The Exorcist was Pazuzu.

And that’s fucking hilarious.

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12 Responses to Interlude: Penny Dreadful

  1. dreameling says:

    For my part, I loved this show. From the characters, stories, and world-building to the set dressing, cinematography, and music. For the 3 seasons it ran, it was one of my top 3 favorite shows on the air.

    • stchucky says:

      Oh, I’m definitely liking it, and I’m looking forward to cracking into the second season. Not sure if the third is out on Netflix yet but that’s where we’ll be catching it.

      I do like the mood / settings and music too, very nice. And the actual construction of the horror themes is old school as suits the material – very little of the oh-so-fashionable SUDDEN LOUD NOISE AND APPEARING BAD GUY scare effect, which is just goddamn trashy.

  2. brknwntr says:

    Damn you Hatboy. I LOVE Eva Green, not quite as much as Rachel McAdams, or Emily Blunt, but she is a SOLID SOLID third. However I hate and loathe Billie Piper with all the disgust and fury usually reserved for war criminals and rapists. I have been torn between these two opinions as my basis for watching or not watching this show. Also, I liked LXG strictly for Sean Connery, and was unaware that this was actually the outline behind Penny Dreadful. I knew literally nothing other than that these two actresses were in it. And i was comfortable with that. It left me in an indecisive limbo. Now, I have a great urge to watch the damn show, but a fear of finally finding a role which I don’t enjoy Eva Green in. I had some holdout hope that Piper would end up a Ripper victim or something and that seems to be shot down now as well.

    Darn you, darn you to heck.

    • stchucky says:

      Do you want spoilers? Because this is how you get spoilers.

      Anyway, the plot mirrors LXG only insofar as Dorian Grey, Frankenstein’s Monster and (in later seasons, apparently) Mister Hyde and other public domain characters are in it.

      Eva Green is good, worth watching if you like Eva Green.

      And as of the end of season one, Billie Piper dies of consumption and gets cut up by Frankenstein to make a Bride for his Monster. Which, you know, maybe you’d enjoy.

    • stchucky says:

      Oh, and don’t get attached Van Helsing. He daid.

  3. Just stop watching at the end of season 2. Season 3 is a clusterfuck of awful.

    Personally, I LOVE seasons 1 and 2. They’re everything LXG should have been, and it’s really close to the graphic novel that Moore wrote. Season 1 is a lot of build up, but Season 2 really lets the series breathe and grow. It helps that Eva Green is splendid, and surprisingly even Mopey McAmericano isn’t terrible.

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