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.