Monday, October 10, 2016

Penny Dreadful

So, I’m usually late to any party—and binge watching a program is no exception. One of the pitfalls of not having the premium movie channels on cable is I also don’t get the exclusive series at first airing and have to learn about new ones through friend recommendations.

A friend asked, about a year ago if I had seen Penny Dreadful and I said I had not. OMG! Friend about had a cow falling over himself telling me all about this series and oh, by the way, he’d DVR’ed so we could watch. Friend and I talked about gothic literature, how uptight the Victorians were perceived to be, had the age old conversation of good versus evil, heaven against hell, darkness versus light. I about fell out of my chair when friend said, “I’ve watched the whole first season and I’ve yet to figure out who Penny Dreadful is.”

WHOA! Stop right there. Penny Dreadful isn’t a person. Penny Dreadful is a thing. Penny dreadfuls were the precursor to the modern comic books, the early edition of Tales from the Crypt if you will. Perhaps the most famous of them was Varney the Vampire, which ran from 1845 to 1847 and was over 237 chapters. These were printed on a single broadsheet and sold for a penny. And, they were dreadful—usually full of gore and blood and violence, or as much as could be depicted in uptight Victorian society.  Hence the name “penny dreadful”. Bram Stoker (of Dracula fame) got his start as a penny dreadful writer. 

At any rate, I watched the first three episodes at my friend's home and was hooked. Had to then buy the first two seasons on DVD and I binge watched every single episode and then sat on pins and needles until Season Three came out and tried to avoid spoilers. One of the most literate series on television and it was only meant to last three seasons. Well, DAMN!

So, if you haven’t seen Penny Dreadful, treat yourself and start binge watching. Keep an eye out for Dr. Frankenstein, the Monster (and thank you to the producers who kept the original Shelley vision of the creature in that he was articulate and didn’t stumble around as if he was drunk), the Monster’s Bride, Dracula (and no, he does not sparkle!), a werewolf…yeah, it was a great series.  

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