Just did a mini-marathon of all eight episode of Showtime/Sky Atlantic's Penny Dreadful
. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it.
Definitely Gothic Horror, and at times I feel like it's fanfic onscreen with classic characters (read: in the public domain) tossed together into a single time period with original(ish) characters. Sir Malcolm Murray, formerly an explorer of the African continent, seeks his abducted daughter, Mina (yeah, guess where that's going). He's assisted by her childhood friend, Vanessa Ives, who is apparently has some sort of supernatural powers and/or is possessed by one or more beings and "The Master" is using Mina to lure in Vanessa as his bride. [insert Egyptian Book of the Dead meets the Apocalypse reasoning here]
As things progress, we meet Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and Dorian Gray. Let's just say that Dorian Gray gets around like Captain Jack Harkness gets around, m'kay? I'm assuming there's fanfic of that, right? What am I saying? There probably was before this show aired. Also, appropriate icon is appropriate.
Since it's for a pay channel, of course there's gore and sex scenes, but the gore wasn't as bad as I was expecting. It's there, but you often just see the aftermath, though one quick and gory scene is also one of the best "reveals" I've ever seen. Though if you're at leery over blood and guts, this is probably not the show for you. Vampire headshots, resurrecting dead bodies, bodies discovered ripped apart, etc. Those aren't spoilers, they're the first episode.
The majority of the sex scenes are het (and at least one is uber creepy as something
seduces a female character over to the dark side using a familiar face, but is not present in the physical world), but there is one of Dorian and one of the male regulars (not really explicit at all, though I understand some people got their knickers in a bunch when it first aired), as well as Dorian apparently presiding over an orgy with a naked woman on one side, and a man on the other. Though neither men are naked, they're wearing leather pants. It's the usual thing we get from pay channels; the focus is on the male gaze, so what little male nudity there is happens to be butt shots while they're having sex with a woman.
As for the plot, I'm intrigued, but some of the plot tropes bother me. Don't get me wrong, it's chock full of tropes that it both plays straight and subverts, and takes great glory in both, but certain tropes bother me by their very existence. We're left with multiple cliffhangers, but it's already been renewed for a second season, so there will be at least some follow up. There's even a few bits that appear resolved at the beginning might not be, such as a character assumed dead prior to the show's start, but then the person who was there having dodgy memories of the events. Might be nothing, might be plotcake.
One thing I thought they would reveal but did not is[Spoiler (click to open)]Dorian's portrait. He hangs out in a room full of portraits of other people, and is seen going into a secret room and unveiling a large canvas, but we only see it from the back. I really thought they'd show at least a glimpse near the end of the season, to give us an idea of how old he really is, though since it's more a reflection of the corruption of his soul, perhaps it's best to wait for a Big Reveal moment?
Anyone else watch this and want to weigh in?