Penny Dreadful 1×01 ‘Night Work’: We all have our curses

Source: Showtime

Penny Dreadful, Showtime’s newest horror series, hits all the right notes for me. It’s got it all. Sex, gore, action, sass and a healthy helping of mystery – add a musical number and it’s basically all I look for when it comes to entertainment. Strictly speaking, when it comes to the narrative, this episode was not satisfying for the viewer. However, that is to be expected. This episode basically served to set up the characters, future plot and also establish the world that this series takes place in.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

Part of the appeal for me, and I expect for others as well, is that it exists in a fictional space where all literary figures of Victorian London converge, and it becomes a bit of a game to guess which characters come from which literary sources. To put it simply, it’s like season 1 of Once Upon a Time where part of the fun was guessing which Storybrooke citizen was which fairy tale character. When a certain character mentioned galvanization, I immediately thought of Victor Frankenstein, and I was (as always) right. Missing daughter called Mina? I’m pretty sure this is a Bram Stoker reference. Whether it is the intention of the writers to make this part of the series, I don’t know. I do know that it makes for a far more interactive and immersive viewing.

What makes this show worth watching is that from the get-go, the characters have agency. There is a goal to this series and that is, to me, by far the most crucial aspect to any successful television series. The only thing missing, and that is only because it’s the first episode so really they just haven’t gotten down to it yet, is the goal of the antagonist. And I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait. Ethan Chandler wants to give meaning to his life, after squandering most of it away. Malcolm Murray wants his daughter back and Vanessa Ives – well that’s still a mystery.

Source: Showtime

Source: Showtime

I don’t know whether to credit the writers or the accents because every line that has been spoken on this show sounds like poetry. There’s a cadence to the dialogue that isn’t present in the 21st Century and it all adds to the verisimilitude of the series. It is romantic and enigmatic without being affected (I’m looking at you, Hannibal). If you love reading, you’ll know what I mean when it isn’t just about the words telling a tale, but rather the sound of the words as they travel through you. This is the feeling that I get when watching Penny Dreadful, that every word is a deliberate decision, put together to form a particular rhythm.

Ethan Chandler’s character exists as our window into their world. His glimpse into the demimonde was our viewing of the episode. I shall conclude with this bit of dialogue from the episode -‘Was he tempted?’ ‘Intrigued, I would say.’ ‘Then he’ll be back.’

Yeung Wing

is an aspiring TV critic, writer and editor. You can see her past work on her Tumblr!
She lives her life through escapism.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.