Penny Dreadful

I’ve moved on from Touch and have discovered Penny Dreadful. I’ve much to say….

The Showtime series Penny Dreadful was one of the suggestions in my Netflix profile, and since I was wanting something to get me in the “Halloween spirit” I decided to give it a try.
Wow. This show is no joke.
I’m not usually in to horror shows or movies so I don’t know how long I’ll stick with Penny Dreadful, probably just through the month of October.
It’s a very interesting show. The characters are strong, the settings and costumes are excellent. If you like horror/fantasy you will probably like Penny Dreadful. Vampires, demons, witches, a werewolf, apparitions, curses, Dr. Frankenstein and his “creations”, The Egyptian Book of the Dead- all of these are part of Penny Dreadful. So too is Dorian Gray which I found very interesting. Dorian Gray as a character in a horror/fantasy story? Brilliant.
Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster I expected. But not Dorian Gray.
I’m only just barely familiar with the story of Dorian Gray. I know it’s by Oscar Wilde and I know that the character Dorian wants to remain young and beautiful forever so he somehow transfers part of himself to his own portrait. The portrait ages, Dorian does not.
But that’s all I know. I didn’t know that the story  apparently gets much darker and deeper than that.
Obviously I’m going to have to read that now. It was already on my list but now it’s been moved closer to the top of that list.
The Dorian Gray character on Penny Dreadful is, so far, pretty fascinating. He’s got a vampire-ish (Vampiresque?) thing going on. Pale skin, dark hair falling into his eyes, well dressed, often exposing a good portion of his pale chest, rings on several fingers, silver chain-like necklaces, bit of a preoccupation with blood….
You get the picture.

In addition to great characters and visual presentation Penny Dreadful also has great dialogue. For one thing, it’s set in Victorian London so by default the language would already be pretty rich- and it is. It’s also very quick, smart, and clever.
For example, you’ve got Dr. Frankenstein and his “monster” -characters created by Mary Shelley- quoting the poetry of her husbandPercy Bysshe Shelley.
Ah, I see what they did there, very clever.
And Dr. Frankenstein’s creation names himself after another poet, John Clare. (But I didn’t get that one on my own, I stumbled across it on Google while searching other things.)

There’s lots of dark romantic poetry quoted throughout the series, at least so far. I’m only up to season 2, episode 3. (“The Nightcomers”) However, based on the little I’ve read about the show it looks like poetry is a staple throughout the series.
I’m actually learning a lot watching this show. Poetry, history, vocabulary- I keep having to look up words! But I like doing that sort of thing. The dialogue in Penny Dreadful is so delicious that they don’t really need to add poetry to it, but it’s awesome that they do.

If this belief from heaven be sent, if such be nature’s holy plan
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream
The Earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light
The glory and the freshness of a dream..

More Quotes from Penny Dreadful 

You’re a man with a bloody knife like everyone else out there, so stop putting on airs.

Do you know anything about electrical currents? Your country is making such strides as we labor in the dark ages of coal and peat.
Have you any experience with the principles and applications of galvanism?

Sir, I have urgent need of a necropsy. Will you assist us?…

Lividity, null.
Rigor mortis, null.
Notable ocular hyperemia. 
Ocular reaction, null.
Dental malformation, not naturally occurring due to isotropy.

Nature’s rarely so neat, nature abhors symmetry.

Trauma and penetration of the chest cavity through the manubrium seems the likely cause of death,
but I expect you know that.

Well, it would appear you have an Egyptian man of no particular age, who, at some point in his indeterminate lifespan, decided to sharpen his teeth, cover himself in hieroglyphics and grow an exoskeleton. 
Or you have something else altogether.

Trust me, those Egyptians were a bit madcap when it came to specifics.

Isn’t that a delicious word?
Sounds like something eaten by little Persian boys, doesn’t it?

Life and death… The flicker that separates one from the other, fast as a bat’s wing, more beautiful than any sonnet. That is my river. That is my mountain. There I will plant my flag. 

You seem to be a freethinker who might imagine a world less constrained by what we think we know of as truth.

Man does not live only in the empirical world.

But if one is to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of… social awkwardness.

I am not a creation of the antique pastoral world. I am modernity personified. 

Is the language not rich with felicity of expression?

And most of those are from episode 1 alone!

Also, just a few of the interesting words I’ve learned…

cutaneous eccrine pores
tensile exoskeleton
Solipsistic self-aggrandizement
piquantry (or maybe piquancy)
Atropa belladonna (Deadly nightshade)

 ephemeral: transitory, lasting a very short time

Demimonde: In Penny Dreadful it refers to the “other” world, a place between life and death, or as the character Vanessa Ives puts it, “A half-world between what we know and what we fear”. The literal French translation is indeed half-world.
The definitions I found via Google:
a group of people considered to be on the fringes of respectable society.
(19th-century France) the class of women considered to be of doubtful morality and social standing.

I’ve also learned about the name/term itself.
Again from Google, penny dreadful: a cheap, sensational comic or storybook.
I think they were more like comic books than storybooks, and very inexpensive, hence the word ‘penny.’ (Obviously.)

So, like I said, I’m just barely in to season 2. Finally there are some witches involved. Although, these are very strange, very creepy kind of witches. Evil. And I don’t like that Penny Dreadful is so heavy with the devil theme so, like I said, I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick with this. I prefer my witches more along the lines of Hermione, Sabrina, and Samantha. ; )
I didn’t expect Penny Dreadful to be this intense. I thought it was going to be something fun like The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, but it’s more gory and shocking than it is fun. Fascinating and smart, yes, but also very, very gory. Sometimes even disturbing.
Once November comes I’ll be in Christmas mode and will not want to watch something like this. But it’s cool for now and even strangely inspiring- I really feel the urge to paint. Huh. Go figure.
Anyway, Penny Dreadful adds a little bit of edginess to my quiet normal suburban little life. I like my entertainment to be edgy- not my life. I like my life calm and peaceful. And these days I can achieve that most of the time.


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