Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Television Worth Spending Time With: Penny Dreadful
If you have not watched, or even heard of, Showtime's Penny Dreadful, I would highly recommend you check it out. I was initially sceptical, burned out on Vampire drama's and cable shows others seem to love that I can't get into. Believe me, you won't regret giving Penny Dreadful a try. Beautifully written and created by John Logan, the shows center is actress Eva Green, who if not nominated for an EMMY will be a crime. She is memorizing in every scene, her episode 2 seance scene, and the entire episode 5 being an acting tour de force. Penny Dreadful is one part Downton Abbey mixed with a dash of Sweeney Todd, a wee bit of True Blood (just a wee) and a large dose of disturbed. The show lives up to it's title, bringing together stories and characters from the past together in a beautifully bloody way
Green is surrounded by a group of men, three of which I have featured on FH and I one I shockingly have not. First the overlooked, not sure why the delicious Timothy Dalton has not been on the blog but he should have been. Dalton plays Sir Malcolm to Green's Vanessa Ives and together they lead the crew investigating the disappearance of his daughter. The culprit, the Beast and although frightening, it was only in the few scenes with the beast, the show weakened a bit. The characters and story is so strong, the beast is much more frightening when we don't actually see it.
I first featured actor Harry Treadaway in a small birthday post with his actor brother Luke back in 2008. (HERE:) Harry plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein and thus far his storyline has been the most compelling and Treadaway, the most fascinating actor to watch.
The pilot has Frankenstein bringing life to his monster, a beautiful, quiet and naked re-born the good doctor instantly falls in love with. Sadly the love doesn't last long when his first born, the creature, returns to reclaim his place in the family. Rory Kinnear is incredible as the creature. His ability to be both horrifically violent and gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking is powerful to watch. Kinnear, along with Green, are the shows two power houses in the cast. Kinnear's story, especially his Phantom of the Theatre twist is one of the reasons the show works. It is so beautifully shot, wtih dramatic visuals and breath taking cinematography with are all highlighted in the Theatre's scenes and setting. John Logan also is a brilliant dialogue writer, poetic and so many quotes I gave up trying to remember.
I am so glad to see Josh Hartnett back in front of the camera. I was never really a fan of his look or his acting but I that has all changed with his role of Ethan Chandler. Hartnett has grown into his looks and has never looked hotter. His acting also fits perfectly with his character, a side show Western performer who has lived most of his life on his his own. Chandler has a secret, but his inability to support others in pain is something I am sure we will learn more about soon.
Straight and gay are not really concepts defined on Penny Dreadful, instead sexuality is wonderfully fluid. Although Hartnett's Chandler has a woman he loves on the show, it didn't stop him spending an interesting evening with oh so beautiful Dorian Gray. Many of the shows characters appear to have a leaning for one sex or another but so far it hasn't limited their sexual exploration and I hope the show continues to treat sexuality this way.
Broadway's Spiderman, actor Reeve Carney plays Dorian Gray on the show and brings a cup of creep into his portrayal of the character. Like his character, Reeve is beautiful, eerily so at times, and the pain of such has only been scratched on the surface thus far. Dorian has moved in and out of sexual encounters with both Green and Hartnett, as well as many others both male and female. The character was introduced enjoying being coughed on with the blood of a woman suffering from consumption.
The show has wisely removed Reeve's clothes several times in the first six episodes. Leads Hartnett and Reeves have both had nude scenes along with Green and several of the shows so-stars and extras. Thus far the nudity seems to be evenly spread out, maybe a slight edge to the men. The nudity is great, but not the main reason to watch the show. It has been awhile since I got so quickly caught up in a new show, but this show is emotionally, visually and theatrically a feast for the eyes and ears. If you have the ability to check it out, start with the pilot and give it at least 3 episodes. Love to see what others think of John Logan's masterpiece.