Penny Dreadful – Season 2 Premiere

Although it is not summer yet, it is time to write some short TV reviews.  Here is a recap of the themes and reveals (SPOILERS) from Season 2 episode 1 of Penny Dreadful, “Fresh Hell”.

Penny Dreadful S2:Episode 1,

Plot:

Vanessa is barraged by an onslaught of disturbing occult images brought on by the mysterious Madame Kali. Because of the massacre he committed in the Mariner’s Inn, Ethan believes he needs to leave London. Dr. Frankenstein works to bring Brona back to life while under the pressure from Caliban, who, in search of work after being let go at the Grand Guignol, applies at a wax museum. After Mina’s funeral, Sir Malcolm returns to London to discover that a whole new evil is hunting Vanessa.

Themes:

  • As it was in Season 1, there is a main theme that the characters on Penny D all seem to believe in:  Can and should they try to vanquish evil, while knowing that there is an evil inside of them.  The question is:   Will that “evil” or I would call it their “beastly strength” destroy them or their friends before they get a chance to finish off the evil forces around them?

  • The Victorian oppression of letting your true feelings and true self from showing was a big theme for the characters and was best exemplified in this episode by the Creature’s reluctance of accepting the beauty within himself, and instead taking a job at a wax museum where dead things are given life for the public to gawk at.  Is this the Creature’s fate (to be gawked at) or is there hope that he will be accepted for the kind heart within him even though his face is horrible.

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  This was exemplified by the pure and white snow being coated in red blood at the attack of the strange witches who seem to be able to appear and disappear from sight.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

Big Surprises:

  • Ethan realizes for the first time possibly how dangerous he can be to anyone even old friends (or foes).  So much so, that he wants to leave Vanessa and those that offer him a chance at redemption.  It caught me a bit by surprise that Vanessa had no real clue of his supernatural abilities.  I guess her and Malcolm mainly wanted a gun for hire (last season).

  • Mrs. Malcolm has always resented his journeys to Africa and believes he went totally for selfish reasons.  It remains to be seen if this is really true, but perhaps Malcolm went there for reasons that weren’t selfish.  Obviously their partnership was strained when Peter died (and his body was left in Africa) but now it is totally ruined because of Mina’s death.

  • Poor Brona Croft.  First Dr. Frankenstein killed her, now he is in love with the idea of a new life for her (without her consent) and then he is going to give her to the Creature.  Will she remember Ethan in her new “undead” form?

  • The “witches”.  Kinda boring in a way.  It seems their only job is to provide the Master his desired “marriage” to Vanessa/ Ancient Deity.  It doesn’t make sense to me why they would want to put a barrier between themselves and the Master (of evil).  This reminded me of both Buffy the Vampire slayer and the Strain.  Not good.  I hope this is just one of the story lines this season and not the main one.

 

 

Penny Dreadful – Season 2 Preview

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

Well we are back a little earlier than I thought.  I have already received (via my DVR) the first episode of Penny Dreadful season 2.  Look for a review in the next couple days.  The official start date for the show is May 3rd, but you can catch it online right now here:  Penny Dreadful Season 2 Premier on Showtime online – click here to watch.

Penny Dreadful S2: No spoilers.

Thoughts:

  • I hope Showtime knows what it’s doing putting Penny Dreadful on the same night as Game of Thrones.  Of course it seems like all the best shows are on Sunday.

  • I know absolutely nothing about this season other than the season 1 cast and crew are all returning… and I like it that way (both the cast and that I will be surprised).

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  That is what I wrote last year and it’s the main thing I am looking forward to this season.  What about you?

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

 

 

 

Penny Dreadful – Season 1 Finale

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.  Here is a recap of the themes and reveals (SPOILERS) from Season 1 of Penny Dreadful.

Penny Dreadful S1:

Themes:

  • As Vanessa says “She is afraid of the things she is capable of doing (evil)”, and as the priest says “Are you sure you want to be normal (without the special characteristics that make you unique)”.  This dichotomy of this theme seems to apply to all the characters.  Frankenstein’s monster wants to be normal in appearance so he can be loved, but realizes it’s his depraved heart that actually scared away his theater girlfriend.  Malcolm loves going on adventures but has “lost” his kids due to his absences.  Ethan wants people to see his gentle side and not leave him,  but uses his dark side to keep from being caged.

  • The Victorian oppression of letting your true feelings and true self from showing was a big theme for the characters and was best exemplified by Vanessa’s fear of physical intimacy with Dorian Grey.  She abandons him to save him and herself from revealing her more baser instincts.

  • The spiritual world is both intriguing and dangerous in Penny Dreadful.  While exploring the darkness of the Grand Guignol theater they find evil creatures, and Mina warns them that the Master is close to controlling them all for eternity.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

Big Surprises:

  • Now we know why Ethan is on the run and accused of killing so many people in America.  He “changes” during the full moon.  But what was he like before that happened to him?

  • This one caught me totally by surprise… is Vanessa actually Malcolm’s illegitimate daughter?  At least that’s the way I read his retort to the “dead” Mina (I have a daughter).  If Malcolm was having an affair with Vanessa’s mom this is actually very possible and explains the closeness between V. and Mina.  They were as close as sister’s (as the episode 4 title hinted).  It also explains why Peter recoiled from V’s touch as that would make him her half-brother.  Creepy yes.

  • Poor Brona Croft.  Now she will wake up and find herself not only re-alive but also engaged to Caliban.  Just wait until Ethan figures this out!

  • There are 10 more episodes planned for season 2 to air next year.

 

 

Penny Dreadful – The Two Sides of Vanessa Ives

Vanessa Ives – Showtime

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.  Here I explore the themes of Penny Dreadful’s main female character.

Vanessa Ives:

Major Themes:

  • Invitations to unexplored worlds – In an early scene, Vanessa invites a new acquaintance to experience a world beyond this one.  Here is the clip where that happens.

  • The border between what is known and unknown – Vanessa walks along the beach with Mina and asks her if she wants to go into the ocean.  Vanessa wants to go in.  The beach itself is the border between the safe known land and as the ancients called it, “the evil unknown sea”.

Vanessa and Mina - Showtime

Vanessa and Mina – Showtime

  • The Eye is the Window to the Soul – Vanessa stares into the lifeless creature she made.  It’s a bird of prey.  She puts a mirror behind the dead eyes to give them life.  When she stares at you she wants to see the part of you behind the physical shape.  The world of the ephemeral held still and studied.

Vanessa's Taxidermy - Showtime

Vanessa’s Taxidermy – Showtime

  • In Penny Dreadful, Vanessa is a our spirit guide between the worlds.

 

In the Flesh Series 2

In the Flesh - BBC, BBCA

In the Flesh – BBC, BBCA

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.  Note: The premise is SPOILED for some shows that aired recently.  If you want to see these shows and don’t want to know the premise than be wary.

In the Flesh

Pro’s:

  • A different kind of zombie show ( a zom drom = zombie drama) – This show follows a recent trend in “returned from the dead” TV shows and movies.  In The Returned, the zombies are just innocent people who died suddenly and now are alive again.  Years have gone by and their families have aged but they have not.  And in Warm Bodies there are different types of zombies, some are nice and some are very zombie-ish.  In these new zom-drom’s,  the zombie characters are the focus, and how they learn to cope with their zombie characteristics is the source of drama.

  • Family and community – Like The Returned, you see how the community reacts to “the dead” in a number of different ways.  However in Warm Bodies the focus was mainly on the two protagonists.

  • The show is on BBC and BBC America and you can watch the first episode of Series 2 for free at their website.

  • Also this show airs right after the excellent Orphan Black.

Con’s

  • Unfortunately the whole time I was watching In the Flesh I just kept thinking about other shows.  In particular I thought it seemed to be just like True Blood in that there were zombies (or vampires) who were organizing themselves against the threat of “normal” society.  What I liked about True Blood is that the show runners seemed to be having some fun with this premise.  In the Flesh just seems a bit too serious.  I will caveat this to say I have only watched one episode, so I could be wrong about this if things change in the future.

 

Penny Dreadful and 24: Live Another Day

Penny-Dreadful

The new summer TV shows have started so I thought I would begin writing some short reviews.

Penny Dreadful:

Pro’s:

  • Timothy Dalton and Eva Green – A lot of us were introduced to Mr. Dalton as James Bond back in the late 1980’s.  He came across a lot more serious and stiff then Roger Moore who he replaced.  But that was a good thing because the Bond series had become ridiculously silly (remember Jaws the Neanderthal looking guy with braces!).  Anyway I had forgotten about Dalton until he was in the Rocketeer and in Hot Fuzz, both times playing bad guys.  He was the best player in both – evil but good, if you know what I mean.  Now Eva Green has been absolutely exceptional in the last few movies/shows she has starred in.  She was an evil vampire hunter in Dark Shadows, a temptress warrior in the 300 sequel and a demon witch in Camelot.  She chews the scenery and seems to love to take big chances in over the top roles.  You may mostly remember her as Bond’s foil in the recent reboot Casino Royale opposite Daniel Craig.

  • Victorian scenery – If you liked the scenery in the Robert Downey version of Sherlock Holmes I think you might like what they are doing here on Penny Dreadful.  Everything is a bit dark and sinister, but also occasionally wonderfully weird.

  • The Plot – Is mysterious but has to do with Dalton’s search for his lost daughter who apparently has been kidnapped by dark forces.

Con’s

  • This could be a pro or a con.  The show seems to be headed into territory explored in A League of Extraordinary Gentleman.  That movie was deadly dull in my opinion.  It had too many characters who were not given enough motivation for whatever it was they were doing.  However if you like comic book type movies or shows,  you might like how they are drawing a bit from a familiar source.

  • The show is on Showtime network.  You can watch the first episode for free on their web site but after that you need cable TV and a premium subscription (or friends that have it).

24: Live Another Day

Pro’s:

  • Jack is back and I can tell you he is on track.  Whether you were an original viewer or a new viewer I would highly recommend you watch the first two hours of this new season.  Jack and Chloe are the people who try to stop the world from ending in 24 hours.  The premise itself is action embodied.

  • The technology is up to date with all the latest buzzwords and shadowy organizations.

  • The show is on the Fox website and Hulu or Hulu plus.

Con’s:

  • The archetypal characters from before are also back (the clueless boss, the cool-blonde CTU analyst, etc.)

  • Obviously the show is violent and it needs to be, but sometimes it does push things a bit far into the gratuitous realm.