Penny Dreadful Recap/Review – “Pilot”


By: Cynthia Ayala

A brief look at the pilot episode of the new Showtime series “PENNY DREADFUL” that brings some of literature’s greatest stories to one screen.

Penny Dreadful is the new horror/supernatural drama on Showtime. The show is set to premiere on May 11 on Showtime but Hulu subscribers can catch an early glimpse of the show online.

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Eva Green giving a Tarot Reading

The show opens with a horrendous murder of a family down in London in 1891. Ms. Vanessa Ives (played by Eva Green) is a girl who has some sort of psychic abilities to see or catch glimpses of the future as she prays for salvation, of peace, or something like that. Under the employment of Sir Malcolm Murray (played by Timothy Dalton). Ms. Ives begins her hunt, not for monsters, but for a man who is not afraid of the dark, a man who won’t ask questions yet driven by curiosity and the desire to do the right thing. That man is Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) a “charming, brash, daring man of action who is unafraid of violence and more complicated than he likes to admit”.

Cast of Penny Dreadful
Cast of Penny Dreadful

The first episode opens with a woman snatched from her room and her daughter walking in on a scene of horror, screaming. The scene of the crime, the horror, is revealed later in the show, and it was truly something terrifying, but the scene later inspires Ethan Chandler to think about what he wants to be in life, who he wants to be, and it works as a great motivational spark giving the show a sort of depth. This highlights the shows desire to be about more than just gore.

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler
Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler

Following that, not only does the opening hook the viewer in, but also it allows for the plot line of the episode to build. Ms. Ives, Sir Murray and Mr. Chandler go on a hunt for Mina Murray, seeking her in the bosom of a nest of vampires. Do they find her? Well she certainly does appear, and in a way, I think all fans of Dracula would expect. The Vampire creation and the death of one brings up the scientific development allowing the show to introduce Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway).

The Crew meet Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway)
The Crew meet Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway)

Personally, the flaw in the show was the representation and concept of Frankenstein. All readers and fans of the novel by Mary Shelly know that Victor came from a wealthy family that supported him through his medical training, even when he became elusive and wrapped up in his scientific endeavors. Murray calls him a poet and Frankenstein responds “yes, and the bank account to match”, implicating that he is a starving artist. Harry Treadaway does a good job of capturing the drive that is within the character, but the story behind him and the birth of his monster at the end of the episode (sorry, spoiler alert) was underwhelming. That ending sequence really resonated as more of an afterthought to add into the show.

Over all, it was a well-written and structured show and is set to premiere on Showtime May 11, 2014.

Let me know what you think :)

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