TV Review – Penny Dreadful Season 1 – Episode 3

@blackadder345 is thoroughly unimpressed with Penny Dreadful’s 3rd episode…


Some of literature’s most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. PENNY DREADFUL is a frightening psychological thriller that weaves together these classic horror origin stories into a new adult drama.
Following on from the dramatic ending of the previous episode Penny Dreadful takes its first backward step in terms of storytelling. While the previous two episodes have advanced the plot in a somewhat methodical method, this episode feels all over the place and pretty disjointed.
It begins by showing off Rory Kinear as The Monster (apologise to readers, in my previous two reviews I mentioned that Kinear was the creature created by Frankenstein at the end of the first episode. However the character of Proteus was in fact played by Alex Price who I thought was Kinear under bloody good makeup) who monologues about what has happened to him since his creation by Frankenstein. It turns out The Monster did nothing.  Yeah, unlike in the original book where he spent time travelling and being hardened by the environment  and then he suffered from a lack of compassion displayed by humanity  which eventually led to him being a much more hardened character; there is none of that. Well, this is American remake TV folks so we can’t have something like that! The Monster instead spends his time reading Frankenstein’s collection of Blake’s poetry and other such quotable works. After apparently spending months in this same house Frankenstein left him in, he decides to go outside and find his creator.
Somehow, without any money he arrives in London and gets promptly attacked before being rescued by an actor called Vincent Brown (Alun Armstrong). Armstrong is the only highpoint of the episode, putting in a brilliant performance as the drunken thespian. Brown lets The Monster become the new lackey at the theatre letting him sleep beneath the set. How this then makes him able to casually rip someone in half (as he did to poor Proteus at the end of the last episode) is a mystery. Maybe putting up all those sets gave him really great abs?
While this is going on we have scenes with our old friend Ethan Chandler (Josh Harnett) having sex with Brona (Billie Piper). Why? Er….. cos. That appears to be the only reason why any series has random sex scenes in them. They don’t really add character development or advance the plot, they are just there.
After this sequence we see old Chandler joining back up with Sir Malcolm Murray. Vanessa has a vision and the gang decide to go to the Zoo. Why? – because Vanessa had a feeling. Just that. Even accepting the logic of this gothic world of clairvoyance and spiritual power the characters’ own logic seems fragmented and not really sensible. They go to the Zoo and meet Fenton, a man based on the lunatic Renfield from Dracula. The band of X – Men rejects interrogate Fenton until Chandler, being the caring, sensitive Yank that he is suggests that they left him go. Seeing as it is established a few minutes later that Chandler fought in the Indian Wars, it seems totally illogical that he would want them to just leave Fenton alone. He knows that Fenton works for someone who is clearly evil, unlike the poor Indians whom Chandler presumably slaughtered happily so that he and his chums could take their land. You could argue that having been through war he doesn’t want to hurt anyone that would be fine if we hadn’t seen him shoot lots of people in the past two episodes.
The third episode of Penny Dreadful is meandering and pretty rubbish. It feels such a let-down after two previously good stories. Hopefully, however the next episode will improve on this one.

Will Barber-Taylor

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