June 7, 2014

Penny Dreadful's Other Monster

Season’s halfway done and the new Victorian horror TV series Penny Dreadful is shaping up as a cult favorite. Earlier this week, the Showtime Network greenlighted a second season.

It’s all beautifully done and drenched in atmosphere. Monsters are multiplying, with hints of lycanthropy, perhaps Dracula himself to come and — possible spoiler if you mean to watch it later — two Frankenstein monsters. The docile, innocent Creature, Proteus, conjured in the first episode, has been brutally superceeded by Frankenstein’s original Monster, Caliban, turning up to demand a custom-made mate for himself.

Nice twist: The Monster holds down a job as stagehand for a London Grand Guignol theater. Episode 4 featured a splendid recreation of 19th Century stagecraft with Rory Kinnear’s Monster rushing about, moving scenery and backdrops, rattling tin for thunder and operating trapdoors.

The series’ viral promo campaign makes a big deal of Kinnear’s very intense Monster — pardon me, “Creature” — being exactingly faithful to the book’s original but, of course, it isn’t. With a smooth round face, porcelain complexion and straggly hair, sporting a heavy overcoat, this Monster would look at home in a post-punk gothic alt-rock band. This version of The Monster is as different and new and, ultimately, “of its time” as any of those that preceded on film or onstage, and that’s fine. I welcome the originality of this interpretation.

1 comment:

Gatekeeper said...

Love the series but to be honest reminds of an adult version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen