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I wasn’t really interested until…

May 5, 2014

showtime-penny-dreadfulI don’t go to movies in the theater all that often. There are a lot of times that we get excited about a new film but, then we then see the reviews and end up deciding to wait for it to show up on one of our premium movie channels. This year looks to be more of an exception though as I’m definitely going to see Godzilla and I know Diane will want to check out Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. To get back on topic, we recently went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier as I’m a big S.H.I.E.L.D. fan and, one of the things I really look forward to when going to see a film at our local theater is this pre-show entertainment program that AMC runs. This is because they will invariably run an extended promo segment for some TV show. It was one of these segments that introduced me to one of my all-time favorites, Leverage. So, this time around I got to see a similar segment on a new original Showtime series.

Penny Dreadful is a Showtime original series that I starter seeing teasers for awhile back, probably back during Masters of Sex last year. In any case, it definitely looked like it was trying to tap into the whole American Horror Story vibe based upon what they were showing. The only reason it caught my attention at all was because of the title. For those unfamiliar with the term, a little history lesson is in order. During the industrialization of England in the early to mid 19th century, one side effect was a rapid rise in the literacy rate. As a result of this, a demand for written entertainment created a type of cheap literature called the Penny Dreadfuls or Penny Bloods. The name came from the supposedly lurid content of the magazines featuring such characters as Spring-Healed Jack, the terror of London (think supernatural version of Robin Hood), Wagner the Wehr-Wolf or, probably the most famous of all Varney the Vampire. Given the TV show’s historical setting, the name is obviously a play on this literary reference.

This reference aside (I’m very much a fan of older style literature like that), given what looked like a purely horror focused series, I really wasn’t all that interested in checking it out. Then I saw the preview at the movie theater. It turns out the show looks to be as much League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as it is horror. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for those unfamiliar, was comic book series that ran for two six issue stories done by the exceptional comic author Alan Moore. It combined together a bunch of early characters such as Captain Nemo, Doctor Jekyll and the Invisible Man as a sort of 19th century Justice League. A movie of this was made back in 2003 that turned out to be surprisingly boring for what should have been more of an action adventure film. In any case, Penny Dreadful looks to be a sort of horror themed version of this concept. You have Dorian Gray who appeared in the 2003 film although not in the original comic as a main character, Dr. Frankenstein and his monster (public domain characters come cheap), and an African explorer who looks to be a stand in for Allan Quartermain along with a few other characters. The end result of all this is that I now will be checking this series out and I just wanted to let other people who might be into the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen know as the TV spots that I have seen do nothing to provide potential viewers with this information. Penny Dreadful premiers on May 11th on Showtime but, you can watch the first episode right now if your service provider has the Showtime On Demand feature as it is already available for viewing there.

  1. Thanks for the tip, right up my alley!

  2. No showtime for me.

  3. Dan Hendlowitch permalink

    they had had the first ep up for free streaming at some point. i tried watching it but got busy. billie piper is on it.

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