I wish there were more to say about “Penny Dreadful“, an English-American co-production where suspense is built by throwing about sordid monsters and mystery is built through scenery rather than through an actual story or the power that language can have.
There are a bunch of monsters strewn throughout the series which does not aid it; instead of being scary, I kept myself wondering why the characters seem so flat; Josh Hartnett’s gun-slinger is merely a walking cock – not a cock of the walk – who shoots. Yes, it’s that obvious. And there’s a pathologist who cannot explain his chosen profession without venturing into some ill-advised, condescending monologue about it. Yes, you handle dead people. And wait, he’s Victor Frankenstein. Aah. I’m
intrigued bored out of my fucking mind.
I’m all for the 1880s. I love Jack The Ripper. I love Sherlock Holmes. This, on the other hand, shapes my tongue to verbal abuse; I can’t bear the thought of having to see Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” get slaughtered in this series, as I hear it will be. Yes, I have seen only one episode of this muck.
So, what instead? Which late 19th-century series could ease our fragile little minds? Well, for starters, the Granada production of “Sherlock Holmes” where Jeremy Brett plays Holmes, that would be my best bet. Not many monsters there, but plots, stories, acting and thought, that’s what you’ll get.
The image above is of “Frankenstein”. His stare is enough to convince the viewer of his madness, I’m sure, according to the producers of this muck. And Timothy Dalton! Is his way of existing in the series to seem an English version of Saul from “Homeland”?
So yes, “Penny Dreadful”. The title should be a giveaway, even though there is less suspense or, indeed, anything worth latching onto in this series, if one is to judge from the premiere; I’m all for mysteries such as “The Mummy” and the Indiana Jones series, but this is just pathetic. There’s nothing to resemble horror in here, either. Not even if I’d watched deep in the night-time, all alone, would I be frightened of this.
Consider this to be a warning, friends.