Monday, May 26, 2014

Days of FuturePast: The Hour and The Bletchley Circle

So, with it being Memorial Day and all, I thought I'd take a televised road trip with ya'll and highlight two great BBC dramas set in the post-WWII era. Since it's now the unofficial official start of summer, this may be a good time to get some shows queued up for your summer watching.



No, not that 50s. This 50s.



That one. The one where everyone had a push-up bra and smoking was sexy and cool and didn't cause a bunch of cancer. Also, no one wore black-framed glasses ironically. Oh, the good ole days. 




I have waxed philosophic about The Hour before and how it was SO GOOD and then BBC canceled it because ugh. Never fear. Our modern space age era allows us to access moving pictures and television programs at the touch of a button like never before, all thanks to humanity's ability to harness the power of nuclear energy. Well, really it's electromagnetism, but I did want to sound like one of those announcer guys from the 50s.



Plus also:


Clip art!

Okay, so. The Hour. Seriously, this show is da bomb. (See above.) I binge watched all of the episodes about a year ago, and I have been hoping since then that Netflix would make the show available on instant streaming, but it is alas still only available on DVD.  However, it is available on Amazon Instant Video. Originally airing on the States on BBC America, The Hour dramatizes a fictional BBC news and information program entitled (you guessed it), The Hour. Don't ask. It's meta.

It features Romola Garai (Atonement, Vanity Fair, Daniel Deronda) as Bel Rowley, professional news lady and producer of The Hour (the show within the show, not the show show.) Her partner in crime is her bestie bestie (and maybe boyfriend if she could only stop screwing married men), Freddie Lyon, portrayed by the adorbzabear Ben Whishaw (Bright Star, Brideshead Revisited, Skyfall). Freddie is a truth-seeking journalist and co-presenter of the hour, along with Hector Madden (Dominic West). Hector is less of a truth-seeking journalist and more of a man whore. Hector has an affair with Bel, much to the humiliation of Hector's wife, Marnie (Oona Chaplin, really, yes, that Chaplin).



Freddie is totally in love with Bel, but Bel has friendzoned him, although it's clear from their working and platonic relationship that they should be a couple. In the mean time, Freddie sets out to uncover corruption in the British Parliament and PM's office, overturning secrets that are being kept at the highest levels of the incredibly paranoid UK government. His crusading puts both his life and the survival of The Hour in jeopardy. There are spies and all types of intrigue. Also featured are Anna Chancellor (if you remember your 1995 P&P, she threw shade at Lizzie Bennett as Caroline Bingley) and Peter Capaldi as the Season 2 Head of News. (Thaaaat's where I've seen him before.)



This show is smart, sexy, well-written, and engrossing. It had a following in the US, but BBC canceled it after two seasons. :Sadface: It would be nice if someone else would pick it up and make more episodes. I won't give away too much, but Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger and it was the cast's understanding that they would be tying up the loose ends when the execs at The Beeb brought down the ax. There's no reason why BBC America couldn't take up the reins and make a few more episodes. What does a girl have to do to see Bel and Freddie get together?

Is your "I Like Ike" button tingling? Well, that means it's time to discuss The Bletchley Circle.

Now, we all know the British are known for their great muhhhhder mysteries. There is so much murder in Britain, and so many clever people to solve said murders. Bletchley features a quartet of ladies who worked as Nazi code breakers at the top secret Bletchley Park during World War II. During the post-war period, they've found themselves without much to do because if a lady gets it into her pretty little head that she has a knack for puzzles and things, well then she's really not that content to sit at home and discover new ways with Spam.



Set in 1952 and starring the always awesome Anna Maxwell Martin (Becoming Jane, Bleak House, Philomena) as  Susan Gray, a London housewife who sets things in motion when she realizes that a string of murders she has been reading about in the Times shows a distinct pattern. Not taken seriously by Scotland Yard or even by her own husband, Susan becomes convinced that she can crack the pattern's code and find the killer. She enlists the help of her old Bletchley friends, who have found life rather dull after after their time spent cracking Nazi codes on Enigma machines and whatnot. Susan's friends -- Millie (Rachel Sterling), Lucy (Sophie Rundle), and Jean (Julie Graham) -- have, like Susan, had to keep their wartime activities to themselves and so must for the most part confine themselves to 1950s gender roles.


Girl, don't even think I don't have a tire iron in my dainty handbag.

Series 1 aired on PBS Stateside in 2013 and is available on Netflix streaming. Series 2 saw the departure of Martin's character, and the introduction of a new member of the circle, Alice, portrayed by Hattie Morahan (Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, 2008), a former Bletchley worker who finds herself in trouble with the law. 

I find the Brits tend to have a good grasp on the mystery and suspense drama, and if you're looking for something with some strong female leads, I'd encourage anyone to tune in. Series 2 is available on on Amazon Prime. 

Series 2 just finished airing on PBS, but if your fallout shelter has wifi, the series is available for binge watching online.


Now with wireless internet! And in technicolor! Spamdandy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The British Be Invadin

As Clovis and Maggie Cats have decamped for parts unknown, I felt it behooved yours truly to update all of you lovely people about the programs I have been spending my time watching instead of keeping up with Mad Men. (It's on my DVR, chickens! Fear not.) I thought perhaps you lovelies all thought I had shut myself in my apartment, huddled in blankets, binge watching Call the Midwife while eating cookies and cream gelato directly out of the pint. Me? Do such a thing? So, I thought I would keep you abreast of what I had been up to TV-wise.

I've been watching the hell out of Call the Midwife.



My dudes, this show gets me right in the feels. Now having completed its third, yes, third season, the BBC One drama has seen some major changes occur in the lives of the young midwives and the nuns of Nonnatus House. The most significant event of Season 3 is that Jessica Raine, who portrays the late Jennifer (Lee) Worth (on whose memoirs the show is based) has said goodbye to the series in the hopes of finding greener pastures elsewhere in some absurd little backwater known as Hollywood. After three seasons of filming graphic births, Raine is ready to move on to new challenges and new roles. Jenny starts a new job at a Marie Curie cancer hospital, working with terminally ill patients, and she begins her life with Philip Worth.  However, her departure does not mean the end of the series. BBC has renewed Call the Midwife for Season 4, starting in 2015. Like all good ensemble shows, Call the Midwife has done a fine job of developing its supporting characters, so there is plenty of interest in Chummy, Trixie, Cynthia, kind Sister Julienne, BAMF Sister Evangelina and batty Sister Monica Joan. 


RIGHT IN THE FEELZ!

If you watched all of Season 2 and the Christmas special, you will know that Sister Bernadette has thrown off her habit like she is Maria Fucking Von Trapp, and gotten herself married to Dr. Turner. She dyed her hair and went back to being called Shelagh and she is all kinds of prosh. Dr. Turner and Shelagh were being all kinds of improperly flirty in Season 1 and it's nice to see that relationship come to a successful conclusion. However, Shelagh discovers that her bout with tuberculosis during Season 2 has left scar tissue on her lady bits and she is told that it is unlikely that she will be able to conceive a child.

The show also shifted focus this season somewhat away from Jenny's personal life and more on the personal lives of Trixie and Chummy. Chummy has a bittersweet reconciliation with her posh mum, and she tries to become a Modern Lady, attempting to balance marriage and family with a career. And Trixie starts dating A VICAR. 


Go on with your bad self, Trixie.

I'm sure there will be more development of Cynthia, and the producers have introduced two new characters: Sister Winifred, direct from the Mother House, and new midwife Patsy. 

Call the Midwife is a huge hit in the UK and I encourage all of you duckies to tune in. The guys on this show are so hot. Even Dr. Turner is sexy for an old dude. Seasons 1 and 2 are available via Netflix streaming and through Netflix DVD. Generally, it airs Sunday nights at 8 EST on PBS. 

Next in PBS news (I'm not frontin or nothin; I watch a lot of PBS) is Mr. Selfridge.



 I'm actually glad I gave this show another shot. It's done the opposite of what Downton Abbey has done -- Mr. Selfridge started out weak and it's getting stronger. The shows are pretty comparable, and I do think Mr. Selfridge is a much better show at this point. Season 1 began in 1909, and Season 2 has moved forward in pastfuturetime to 1914, and addresses the outbreak of World War I. Harry (Jeremy Piven) and Rose (Frances O'Connor) Selfridge have stopped cheating on each other with really scary stalker people and are trying to rebuild their marriage. Since the show moved five years into the future, the role of Gordon Selfridge has been recast with an older actor (now portrayed by Greg Austin) and Harry sets the lad to work in the store, starting in the stock room and moving up to the perfume counter, where he begins a flirt with a young shopgirl. D'aww. 

With the outbreak of war, Harry attempts to break into the British establishment by using his money and connections to secure a seat on the Procurement Committee. He runs into a roadblock in the form of Lord Loxley, who dislikes Harry on a personal level. The Procurement Committee is dismissive of Harry's attempts to break into the British aristocracy because he is of low birth and American and all that jazz.

Focusing more on the ensemble cast and their personal struggles has allowed the characters to become more fully fleshed out, and in many cases, more likeable. Case in point is Mae Loxley (Katherine Kelly), who during Season 1 was a very cougary vampy person, but this season has revealed that the formerly MIA Lord Loxley is a TOTAL fucking asshole and I kept wishing for Mae to push him down the stairs.


Just you wait, my dears. 

There has also been a bit more focus on Store Ginger, Kitty Hawkins (Amy Beth Hayes), late of ladies' accessories. Kitty is now Miss Mardle's assistant, and she gets to boss the junior accessories assistants. Her character has revealed itself to be less catty and much more amiable, likely due to her character maturing, and through her burgeoning relationship with newspaper man Frank Edwards (British mainstay Samuel West). All workplace dramas need a ginger. Fact.


And then I told him I never wanted to speak to him again. I think I'm in love!

The title may be Mr. Selfridge, but the star of the show is, and always has been, Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus). Agnes returns from her design studies in Paris and takes over as head of design.  There, she must contend with the jealousy of wannabe rival in ladies' fashion, the bitchy Mr. Thackeray. Agnes is also conflicted due to the return from America of her former lovvvvaaahhh, Henri LeClair (Gr√©gory Fitoussi) because, in his absence, she has grown closer to Victor Corleone. Agnes realizes she must choose between one of her suitors, and compounding her work and personal stress is the fact that her brother, George, is one of the very first to sign up for active military duty. Oh, the dramz.


Oui!

The adorable Miss Mardle (Amanda Abbington) receives two life bonuses this season, while Mr. Grove continues to be a clueless douche. If you haven't noticed, and you should, Amanda Abbington also appears on Sherlock as Mary Morstan, and she is totes Martin Freeman's lady friend in real life. She is just wonderful on Mr. Selfridge, and if you haven't tuned in, you should.

We'll mad your men. And sell it a sturdy pair of boots.

Seriously, this show has gotten under my skin. The first few episodes of the first season are melodramatic and silly, but this season has made up for it in spades. If you're looking for a British costume drama that has the bells and whistles of Downton Abbey, but with better writing and a perfume counter, I very much encourage you to get on board with Mr. Selfridge. The show's home network, ITV, has renewed it for a third season. Mr. Selfridge normally airs around 9 p.m. EST Sundays on PBS. Some episodes are available for streaming on PBS.org.

The next ensemble of which I speak is BBC America's Brit-Can-Am Orphan Black, which is an entirely different kind of ensemble show altogether.


My dudes, this show is crack. I can't say too much about the season thus far without revealing major spoilers. 

Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) is working for the Dyad Institute, but the symptoms of her mysterious illness begin to worsen. Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) searches for answers about Mrs. S's involvement in Project LEDA. We learn more about pro-clone Rachel (Tatiana Maslany), and Helena (Tatiana Maslany) survived being shot by Sarah, but was abducted by some creepy International House of Prayer culty science people. Alison (Tatiana Maslany) turns into a pill popper due to her guilt over Ainsley's death, and the fact that she's finally realized that her husband, bumbling, oafish Donny, is in fact her monitor.

Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany (Tatiana Maslany) deserves some kind of acting Olympic gold medal. Much has been said about her performance  and it all bears repeating. Her portrayal of each of the clones is so mesmerizing and utterly believable that you really do forget that Cosima, Rachel, Sarah, Alison, and Helena are all played by the same actress, and the illusion goes far beyond wardrobe, make-up, and hair. 

Orphan Black airs Saturday nights on BBC America at 9 p.m. EST. Netflix for some odd reason does not have this available for streaming, but they do have Season 1 on DVD.

Monday, May 12, 2014

TV Sluts: Live! And in Person!

Clovis originally wrote the beginning of this post...and then had to leave town for work. *sad trombone* So I'm actually posting it (I'm = Maggie Cats) and writing the introduction to the introduction. Got it?

Oh, whatever. Just go with it.

Clovis:

Two things happened this week that are both rare and heavenly: Haley’s comet will make a pass-by to earth (no visuals, but there was a meteor shower!) and three of the TV Sluts managed to find ourselves in the same room at the same time. What did we do? Watch television, natch.

Damn, those are some good-looking tv bloggers. From left to right: Arsenic Pie, Maggie Cats, and Clovis.

Arsenic Pie, Maggie Cats and I all caught the first two episodes of Salem, WGN’s bloody and provocative new thriller set in Salem, Massachusetts during the infamous witch trials. How is it? Well, it ain’t your father’s Crucible, that’s for sure.

Salem covers the real history of the witch trials in only the broadest of strokes, something we should frankly expect from a show that takes one of the most poignant episodes of the real horrors of fear-mongering and suspicion in early American history and goes, “yeah, but sexy witches are totally more fun, right?”

Obviously the show places fast and loose with the facts, but fans of history and Arthur Miller will recognize some of the high points – In this incarnation, we see the events through the eyes of John Alden, a soldier who has recently returned to Salem after a long time as a POW in an Indian camp, to find Salem has become a hotbed of witchy activity. John Alden is not to be confused with John Proctor, the upstanding moralist in Arthur Miller’s play, but in real life is one of the contemporaries who wrote about the witch trials and thus how we know many details about that event. (Fun fact, he’s also my great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great-grandfather. True story.)

So who’s leading this sudden upsurge in witchery? Unbeknownst to everyone but us viewers, it is Mary Sibley, John’s former love who has married into wealth and power in his absence and apparently also developed a taste for witchcraft after having a magical abortion in the woods. Yes, you read that right – this show doesn’t just go there, it has a summer home there plus a timeshare with options on New Year’s. In the first two episodes alone we see Mary’s demon abortion, apparitions of an Old Hag attacking a teenage girl, a demon orgy in the woods that looked like something out of evil Burning Man, a frog that is repeatedly expelled and shoved back into a man’s body, and a broomstick appropriated to a use that is far from its traditional expectation.

Watching Salem is kind of like this.

In short, Salem is what American Horror Story: Coven should have been – utterly crazy, completely unafraid of gore and terror, and willing to go the extra mile to bring the squicky and the sexy into the same room with each other. I make no secret of how much I enjoy watching train wreck shows – for that reason alone, I’m going to keep up with this one. But what did the other TV Sluts think of it? Take it away, Ladies…


Arsenic Pie:

Will you all think less of me if I say that I liked Salem? I didn't like it in an "OMG this is so thought-provoking and riveting" way, but I liked it in more of an, "OMG. This is so awesomely ridiculous that I cannot look away" way.


Aside from the completely anachronistic "I call bullshit" line from our hero, John Alden, I was interested in how the show mixed fantasy with actual events. It's an interesting take to say, "No, there were legit witches in real actual Salem doing all kinds of bad in order to get rid of people they didn't like" instead of the intense Arthur Miller "Joe McCarthy is an asshole" theme. I think that we are more familiar with the latter, and with the teenage Abigail Williams as the primary accuser. I'm not actually sure which character in the show is supposed to correspond with which character in The Crucible and which character in The Crucible corresponds to real life. I will defer to Clovis on that point.

I am more familiar with the play (English major what) than I am with the actual people in Salem. The Crucible was Arthur Miller's own particular brand of fan fiction, and he took people from the real trials and put them in his play but I'm not really sure how that translates to historical fact. Giles Corey, a character on Salem, appears in the Miller play, as does Brigid Bishop, who I believe at least gets a mention. In the play, Mercy Lewis is just one of the little nasty Salem accuser girls and not the one who is "bewitched" and it's Betty Parris who becomes bewitched. So, I did like that they changed things around. The play does rather beat one over the head with its morality stick whereas the show is morally ambiguous. Also, there are a lot of gross-out moments on Salem, which, sadly, there is a deplorable lack of in The Crucible.

ANYWAY, Salem also diverges from The Crucible in that its protagonist and primary accuser is a grown-up LADY, Mary (forgot her last name). In The Crucible, obviously it is the teen bitch-whore Abigail Williams. Mary, the only inexplicably English and posh colonist in Salem, was a member of the poorz and a SCARLET WOMAN because she was having RELATIONS with John Alden and she became pregnant. Enter her BFF Tituba (who is never hot in The Crucible, but she's gotten a teevee makeover), who is a witch and she convinces Mary to give up her baby to the forest in exchange for what turns out to be social elevation. Mary ends up married to some really old man, but no fear. She totally keeps him under wraps BY SHOVING A MAGICAL FROG DOWN HIS THROAT to keep him quiet. Mary's entire agenda is to punish the swells of Salem for keeping her down all those years, and I am pretty sure she's hoping that the witchy folk can take over Salem and build like Hogwarts or something. Anyway, she's a horrible human being.

I think the most interesting character thus far is Anne Hale, who is the daughter of Reverend Hale. She is both UPPITY and FORWARD, and is not content to work on her sampler. Oh, no. Girl wants to hit on John Alden and draw photos in the graveyard. Shocking. I think there's a lot of growth potential for her character, but her arc is a bit predictable at this stage. Cotton Mather, who leads the witchcraft investigation (legit -- how was that ever a thing?), is kind of an idiot and a hypocrite at this point, albeit hot, so I would like to see some more development with his character. As for John Alden -- I don't know. He just kind of reminds me of Russell Crowe.

Survey says: I think I will keep up with it unless it completely jumps the rails. Well, I think it already sort of went off the rails, so if it goes off further into Dracula land, I may give up on it. It kind of reminds me of Sleepy Hollow in the sense that it's mixing historical events with fantasy while being aware that the show is kind of silly.


Maggie Cats:

You guys. This show is crazy. And by that I mean crazy awesome. But seriously, it's also just crazy. The first two episodes alone fulfilled my "WTF" quota for probably the next 6 months. It's like somebody went into my brain and plucked out all the things I wished a show would be but was too embarrassed to admit, even to myself.

I went into Salem with no prior knowledge; I can't remember if we ever read The Crucible in my high school (we must have, right?) and I don't think I ever saw the movie with Winona. The actual Salem witch trials never really featured heavily in my interests, despite the fact that I was a History major with a semi-focus on early America. So I can't speak to the, ahem, historical accuracy of the events...though I am pretty certain that the Salem witches weren't real witches, so from my perspective the show can basically dowhatever the hell it wants. AND I LOVE IT.

Clovis described it as a train wreck, but I tend to disagree. Unlike American Horror Story, which basically throws every ridiculous plot device at the screen and sees if anything sticks, Salem unfolds in such a way that I think the writers know exactly what they are doing. The plot may be insane, but it doesn't feel random. Sure there's buckets of blood, sex, demons, and all the other good stuff, but it none of it feels out of place in the world the writers have created. And yet, it still manages to shock and surprise.

In short, Salem is not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy the macabre, the surreal, and adult themes (i.e. sexy times!), and aren't squeamish, I think Salem might be the show for you. You know us TV Sluts will be watching.


Our impression of the banner at the top of the blog. 

Salem airs on WGN America (check local listings for stations) on Sundays at 10:00pm EST.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Penny Not Quite Dreadful But Working On It Maybe?

Obviously, I am a friend to the supernatural horror television show.  If your premise involves humans fighting scary monsters, possibly with some snark or at least a heavy amount of innovative production design, I’m probably your guy.   So I’ve been intrigued by Showtime’s upcoming series Penny Dreadful, which has been so shrouded in mystery that no one even really knew what it was about other than that it looked vaguely Victorian and possibly a little steampunk-y. Thankfully for those of us who don’t have Showtime, you can stream the entire first episode over on YouTube right now and check it out for yourself. Or you can read my blog post! (Hint: do the second one.)

So what is Penny Dreadful about?  Even after watching the first episode, it’s hard to say.  Essentially, it’s London in 1891.  American Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnet) is running a travelling Wild West themed show that’s mostly bullshit when he is conscripted by Mysterious Woman Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) to help her with a job that’s going to require his uncanny skill with a pistol.  The job turns out to be invading an opium den where the goings on aren’t exactly of this earth.  Before we know it, our American is drawn into a world of monsters and maybe possibly ghosts but certainly tarot cards and it’s all going to be extremely Victorian.  There’s a lot going on here, so let’s unpack it properly, shall we?

"Wot's awl this then, Guv'nor?"


The Good

First, the production design.  Great Muppety Odin does this show look slick.  The costumes are lavish, the sets are beautiful if a little too bare (this was Victorian London, after all – the culture that never met an extra piece of furniture it wouldn’t cram into a room the size of a closet), and the makeup and special effects are appropriately gory and queasy.  There's no shortage of sewn-together flesh, mangled limbs, and dark red splatters against those good old London bricks, but for all the blood, we still never feel like we're veering too far into the torture-porn territory of modern horror movies. 

Second, the source material.  This show is drawing from every Victorian horror trope you can think of.  Imagine Van Helsing or Hansel & Gretl: Witch Hunters but without the camp factor and taking itself more seriously.  Your mileage may vary on this, but if you’re a fan of old school literary horror, you’re definitely going to find something in here you like.  Likewise, you may find yourself in a few solid Pillow of Fear moments if you’re not careful. 

Third, Eva Green. Kids, this lady personifies the phrase “screen presence”.  After the first episode, we know next to nothing about her character, Vanessa Ives, and yet every time Eva Green is on the screen you can’t help but pay attention to her.  Even through some sloppy editing and confusing action sequences, Eva Green feels like the character that we can latch onto because she’s so clear in her intentions, even if we don’t know what those intentions are.

"I own you, bitches."


The Bad

First, disorganization of plot.  The bad guys are definitely vampires.  Maybe definitely.  Except they’re also kind of zombies.  Zombie vampires?  But then, the doctor on our team discovers that their skin is concealing an exo-skeleton.  So, aliens I guess?  But the exoskeleton is covered in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Alien mummy vampire zombies?  Sure.  Let’s go with that for now.  And they want… something?  And our heroes want… to stop them?  To get their lost loved ones back?  From where?  Good mystery shows should never give you the full story in the first episode, obviously.  But a good mystery needs to give us enough of the facts of the story to make us want to keep learning more. 

Personally, I'm just hoping that the monsters are like this. 

Second, the source material.  Again.  Remember how when you had your first job interview and you tried to turn all your weaknesses into strengths?  Just like that here.  This show is crammed full of things.  Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown at us in terms of characters.  It’s kind of like League of Extraordinary Gentleman meets The Exorcist. Maybe it's a by-product of the Glee television generation where every plotline is thrown at the viewer as quickly as possible, but just because that's a style doesn't make it a recommended one. 

Third, pretention.  The show is trying very hard to stay true to the horror aspects of Victorian literature.  In that sense, it’s got more than a strand or two of DNA borrowed from NBC’s Hannibal, the show about everyone’s favorite serial-killing cannibal, but unfortunately it hasn’t quite achieved the same smoothly stylized high-art feel that Hannibal has managed to corner.  That doesn’t stop it from trying to hide its more cringe-inducing moments under the veneer of this being some kind of story that Means Something.


The Ugly

Oh gosh, you guys – the dialogue needs work.  In addition to some of the most clich√©-ridden stuff you’ve heard in a while, whole stretches go one where characters will be talking to each other in ways that no human, Victorian or otherwise, ever would. It’s again a testament to Eva Green’s screen presence that whenever she’s talking, she can draw you in, even if you don’t understand a single sentence.  Far too frequently the dialogue veers into the cardinal sin of fiction writing – it’s all tell, no show.  We hear about how deep and significant characters are, but we don’t see it at all.  It’s just one character telling us how much we need to care without making us actually do it.

As such, the most troubling part of the first episode for me is how much I didn’t care about what was happening.  The episode failed my iPhone test, which is to say that I lost interest about halfway through and started playing with my phone while watching the second half.  Pilots are never easy beasts, but this one is particularly fussy.  I found myself not understanding anything about the plot or the characters or why anyone was acting the way they did at any point.

NO, WAIT! DON'T LEAVE ME!

A family member of mine likes to say that in relationships, there’s often one person who’s reaching and one person who is settling.  That's pessimistic, but I don't think it's necessarily inaccurate.  If we carry that metaphor forward to the screen, Penny Dreadful is definitely reaching for the love of its viewers.  That doesn’t mean that viewers will have to settle, but it’s not the best dynamic to start with. Hopefully, this show can pull itself up.  Showtime and HBO are both networks that, due to filming entire seasons in one go, are more comfortable thinking of their episodes as book chapters rather than individual mini-movies that have to break every box office record or else the next episode isn’t going to air.  

As such, Penny Dreadful may be the kind of show that rewards its viewers a few episodes in.  That’s certainly a possibility given that the first episode doesn’t even introduce all the main characters – there’s still plenty of time to grow.  Fan-favorite Billie Piper hasn't even shown up, and it sounds like her character is some kind of potential prostitute because Showtime knows that nerds like to see Billie Piper being sexy.  Fans, and Showtime, will just have to hope that the rewards start coming quickly or else all that beautiful messy potential is going to end up splattered like the blood that Penny Dreadful clearly isn’t afraid to shed.