Tuesday, 26 April 2016

"Penny Dreadful" Season 3 Highlights

Great to see the quality has been maintained in Episode 1, as well as the tongue-in-cheek tone.
The camp Professor of Antiquities (so pleased he's back) sets the scene with this exchange to the tortured Vanessa (the smoky voiced and sexy Eva Green): "I like what you've done with the place!" This leads to a return visit from Patti LuPone, now reincarnated as the savvy shrink. Her secretary is Renfield (an inspired way of introducing a new character). More fun in a disused factory with scuttling-choreographed minions of Dracula.
John Clare, alias the Creature (Rory Kinnear), has a poignant scene in the stranded Arctic ship.
In New Mexico we have a terrific Sergio Leone/Tarantino-esque train shoot out. More new characters with Doctor Jekyll (an old school chum of Victor F). Jekyll looks Indian (a link with ITV's recent confusing reboot of "Jekyll and Hyde"?).
John Logan plays with time here. Mary Shelley's novel was published in 1818. While R. L. Stevenson wrote his short story in 1886. Any way it's now 1892 and London is decked out in black for the death of Tennyson.

Episode 2 features a delightful magic lantern show recreation.
Dorian and Lily create havoc in a Hellfire Club setting. Jekyll has a nifty laboratory in the basement of Bedlam (where else?) with a barber's chair for his subject (a nod to Sweeney Todd?).
The American Indian belief in Shapeshifters is cleverly integrated with the story of lycanthrope, Ethan. His family name of Talbot is the same as Universal's Wolfman from the 1940's (Lon Chaney Jr played Lawrence/Larry Talbot).
The final reveal of Dracula's identity ensures fun and games for Vanessa in the coming episodes.

Episode 3
Renfield gives a nod to "The Shining" when he produces reams of "Vanessa....." instead of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
Vanessa reprises her sexy medium bit from Season 1, this time with her shrink.
Sir Malcolm verbally rips a red neck train passenger to shreds. The one scene that isn't strewn with gore.
Dorian and Lily's new protege, Justine, resembles a 1950's Shirley Maclaine (think "The Trouble with Harry"). Incidentally, you have to pity their maid. The blood-drenched parquetry floors and sodden bed sheets!
It is hard to see Henry Jekyll as Clem Fandango in "Toast of London".
That Hall of Mirrors scene has fun with the vampires and reflection malarkey.

Episode 4
An ambitious two-hander between Vanessa and orderly John Clare (pre-The Creature) with most of the action confined to the padded cell. Eva Green and Rory Kinnear are consummate actors, so the hour never drags. I particularly liked the reference by Clare to "the frozen North", so important in his next life as The Creature.
I suppose next week we are back to flashy sets, the Wild West, laboratories and buckets of gore.
Unfortunately we have to wait until Episode 6 to see the return of scene stealer Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale).

Episode 5
What's better than one 'mad scientist'? Two, of course. But how long will the Frankenstein/Jekyll dream team last?
Back  'out West' we have a novel sand castle building technique and a campfire scene (minus Mel Brooks' baked beans). How come super-witch can command myriad serpents but can't conjure up a canteen of water for her parched throat?
Brian Cox (Talbot patriarch) has a terrific scene in the family chapel with the prodigal (evil?) son.

Episode 6
Farewell Prof. Lyle. You will be twuly missed.
A lovely scene with John Clare and his ailing son ("Are you an angel?").
Lots of knives (a spot of fencing) in this episode. Very 'Go sisters'. Lily's self-defence lessons for the ladies of the night (Justine is a little too keen). Vanessa teams up with the indomitable Catriona Hartdegen for future vampire-hunting. An eventful steak dinner at Chez Talbot and a rootin' tootin' gunfight. Even though John Logan is not writing these current episodes, they are truly satisfying.

Episode 7
Lily's "Rise up!" speech to her sisters crawling along Dorian's vast dining table.  Dorian Grey, Frankenstein and Jekyll (representing Victorian males) kidnap Lily (the voice of the new woman, new in more ways than one) to force her to be a 'proper woman'. John Logan's script this episode.

Episode 8
When was the last time you saw the word "miasma" on cable TV?
Samuel Barnett's Renfield is a delight. Being born in Whitby must have looked too good to be true on the actor's resume.
Dracula gets to do the "children of the night...what music they make" line.
Lucky there was a full moon in the last few minutes. Great final scene.

Episode 9
The series went out on a high. Loved gun-slinging LuPone ("I'm a native New Yorker").
All loose ends tied. Did I miss what happened to Renfield? John Logan even got some pathos from Dorian Gray ("I'll always be here.").
Classy closing scene.

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