‘Penny Dreadful’ season 1 was a perfect little curiosity. A series of character studies of classic fictional characters hung together within a sumptuously Gothic story of Victorian horror. Was it perfect? No. While it did give us some great characters, it didn’t quite deliver a central narrative strong enough to define it as a whole. Was it good TV? No. It was an awesome bit of TV. My love of ‘Dracula’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and my own Victorian Gothic horror; ‘The Darkwood Mysteries‘, had me hooked on every episode from it’s bloody beginnings to it’s bloody end. But… season 2. I was trying to keep those hopes reined in.
Penny Dreadful is the Victorian period horror series that weaves classic horror fiction characters together in one grand tale. Dorian Gray, Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, and Dracula all in one show.
Victorian. Horror. This series had me at those two words. For me, horror has always been more atmospheric in a Gothic historical setting. From the hybrid Victorian/Edwardian Hammer horror settings to the creepy historicals of 70s and 80s Doctor Who episodes. Something about pervasive darkness and fallible candles and gaslights as your defence against it, that help was not a phone call away but a telegram away, and the world straddled religion/superstition and science and in the imagination there was room for something else between. A setting that’s been a big inspiration for my own writing (Shameless plug for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’).