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'Penny Dreadful' may be too scary

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POSTED: May 23, 2014 4:00 p.m.
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The cast of "Penny Dreadful" is top notch.

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Last week, we examined a whole slew of superhero-themed series coming soon to television. In that column, I was sure to remind you that horror remains a genre embraced by TV networks.
For proof, we need look no further than Showtime’s new show, “Penny Dreadful.” But is the show dreadfully scary or just plain dreadful?
The series’ title appealed to me as a fan of literature. The penny dreadful was a British serial story printed in the 19th century that could be purchased for a penny. They were often Gothic or mysterious in nature. If you’re familiar with early pulp magazines, those were pretty similar.
“Penny Dreadful” is a fitting title for a series that meshes creepy characters like Dorian Gray, Mina Harker and Victor Frankenstein. In fact, the show has re-imagined such characters as if they truly existed in Victorian London.
Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) is a well-to-do explorer whose daughter has been kidnapped. Her name is Mina, which might suggest that vampires have taken her, but in the first episode we encounter both vampires and a strange Egyptian monster. So who knows what has happened to the young woman?
Sir Malcolm is assisted on the hunt by Vanessa (Eva Green). She appears to be deeply religious, yet she’s a psychic medium. I suspect she may be possessed by a demon. But how and why?
American sharpshooter Chandler (Josh Hartnett) is recruited by the pair because he can kill just about anything. That comes in handy as they treading amongst things that go bump in the night.
We also meet Dr. Frankenstein and his famous monster. Meanwhile, someone is murdering Londoners in the style of Jack the Ripper.
There is plenty going on, even if we aren’t so sure how it’s all connected.
“Penny Dreadful” has a solid cast and beautiful cinematography. It’s creepy and gory and definitely will make you jump. If you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure you keep the lights on.
I see this one as getting popular fast, but the show will need a good ad campaign and word of mouth to avoid the axe. This show definitely works. In fact, I’d be saying I’m a fan, except that the material is pretty darn scary. I don’t know that it’s 100 percent my cup of tea.
Maybe just don’t watch it alone.

 

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