Monday, 6 October 2014
Penny Dreadful, Season 1 / review by Stephen Theaker
The plot of this first series is driven by Murray’s attempts to rescue his daughter Mina from Dracula. The cowboy’s pistols come in handy as they root out vampire nests, and when the fighting is done Doctor Frankenstein performs autopsies on the monster’s bodies. As the series proceeds, there are complications. Dorian Gray works his seductive way through the cast. Frankenstein’s creation demands a bride. Vanessa Ives begins to lose control of her dark passenger, but without its gifts Murray would never find his daughter.
This is a well-made series that I probably wouldn’t have watched to the end were it not for Eva Green’s gob-smacking performance; in control she’s riveting, out of control terrifying. The production values are exceptional, and the special effects terrific, but there is little pay-off on the storylines, too much being held back for a second series that might never have come (though we know now that it will). The vampires are a bit too easy to kill, and seem disinclined to bite; their grand plan is a bit hopeless. Season two will need more compelling antagonists.
Brilliant moments, but not yet a brilliant programme. ***