'Penny Dreadful' Deserves to be Your Summer 'Hannibal.' Here's Why.
The season finale of Hannibal is almost upon us, and when it sails off into that gory sunset we’ll all have a Wendigo-shaped hole in our hearts until season three (yeah renewal!) comes back to us. You could fill that show with a hatewatch of I Wanna Marry “Harry”, but allow me to suggest Showtime’s Penny Dreadful instead. Because:
It’s genuinely scary.
Penny Dreadful is a sort of gothic horror/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fusion, featuring as it does various iconic literary villains like Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. Instead of forcing them all into one big nonsensical story—like, say, Van Helsing did—Penny Dreadful focuses more establishing a pitch-perfect Gothic atmosphere. Not much happens plot-wise in the pilot, but damned if it’s not a completely arresting hour of television. Never has a trip to the bathroom been more terrifying than in the show’s first scene.
Its Doctor Frankenstein is an absolute little sh*t.
Harry Treadaway’s Dr. Frankenstein (“FRAHNK-en-steen”) is basically a socially awkward science nerd with a raging superiority complex over the mainstream sheeple concerned with “lesser” science like botany, pah! Put him in the modern day and he’d probably be a mod on r/Atheism. It’s wonderful. I never knew I wanted this character interpretation until I had it.
Josh Hartnett is not as bad as you think he will be.
Josh Hartnett’s actually good as Ethan Chandler, a roving actor/sharpshooter who’s the lone American in a sea full of Europeans. A good part of the quality of his acting comes from the fact that, while Eva Green and Timothy Dalton vamp it up Victorian horror-style in the pilot, Chandler’s just… a normal, low-key dude, at least so far. There are hints to him having an “inner darkness,” but whatever. I just want Hartnett to give Eva Green someone to act off of, and that he does brilliantly. Speaking of…
Eva Green being the Eva Greeniest she’s ever been
Green’s Vanessa Ives is a well-dressed, sophisticated Englishwoman who gets to swan around being mysterious at people and occasionally doing magic. It’s everything I want from a show with Eva Green in it.
And most importantly:
There’s a scene in the pilot where Josh Hartnett pulls off a moustache to reveal another moustache.
I know what I’m about.
The pilot’s available for free on Showtime’s website, and trust me, you want to watch it before episode two airs this Sunday. The Eva Green seance scene is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on a TV show.