Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Penny Dreadful — Series 1 - Episode 1: Night Work

You know, I have a confession to make.

I like movies.

No, really.

But you’d worked that out, hadn’t you … ?

Over the years, I’ve seen a few: on both the big screen, and — through DVD and iTunes rentals — the small screen.

I’ve another confession or two for you.

I like watching TV shows, as well.

Although, balancing a job, a (minimal) social life, and an high-maintenance blog means I don’t necessarily have the time to see everything I’d like to.


And, to be frank with you, I don’t necessarily have the budget to take out either a Sky or Netflix subscription.

Nor do I necessarily want to.

There’s only so much on free-to-air channels that grab my eye.   Right at the moment, Channel Four’s Humans is keeping me entertained.

So balancing finances with time … ?   Is tricky.

On the OTHER hand … ?

On the other hand, the fact that reasonable priced box-sets — collections of TV series on DVD, or on-demand, and available to watch when we, as consumers, want to watch them — exist, is something I’m thankful about.

Especially if those box-sets are something I’d like to see: but — if broadcast on a TV service I don’t have access to, or that haven’t been on UK free to air TV channels for some years — wouldn’t otherwise see.

Monster hit, Game of Thrones is one.

Vintage classics, Blake’s 7 and Sapphire and Steel have been a couple of others: along with The Prisoner, I, Claudius and the original 1990s version of House of Cards.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the remake of Battlestar Galactica were more recent sets.

But other box sets have been screaming at me: telling me that they’re worth my time.

One of those … ?

One of those has been the Sky TV series, Penny Dreadful.

Well, if you’re going to name yourself after a kind of Victorian pulp, AND have Eva Green in a lead role?

That’s going to catch my attention.


The series actually caught my eye, a few months ago.

I’d picked up the box-set of series one in my local branch of Sainsburys.   Then — as per usual — ripped it over to my external drive.

You can possibly guess what’s going to happen, can’t you … ?

I ripped series one to my external drive: copying the first two episodes into my iTunes library, so I could watch them on my telly, via my Apple TV.

Sat myself down in my big comfy armchair.

Which moved backwards, half an inch.

Hitting a bar-stool I own.

The bar-stool moved: by about an inch, or two.

Coming away from the door it had propped open.

The door slowly — ever-so-slowly — closed.

Hitting the printer on my table in the corner of the room.

Which knocked the external drive sitting next to it, onto the floor … 

With the results … ?   That I lost EVERYTHING on there.

Family photos, TV series, back-issue Gazette Teasers, you name it, it was on there.

Including the rest of that first season of Penny Dreadful.

‘Livid’, ‘swearing’ and ‘plate throwing fury’ don’t even START … !

As you might be able to appreciate … !

At any rate, tonight’s the first chance, since then, that I’ve had a chance to sit down and WATCH any of Penny Dreadful.   And … ?   Let me try and tell you about what I’ve seen.


Episode 1 — Night Work  — opens with a pre-title scene, showing us an unnamed mother and her daughter: in bed, in a tenement in 1891 London.

The mother awakens: to head to the toilet.

Only to be grabbed, and pulled out of the window by an unseen thing.   Leaving a distraught child behind her.

Once the titles have rolled … ?

We’re introduced to Ethan Chandler: a sharp shooter in the UK with a Wild West show.   Seated in the shows audience is the mysterious Vanessa Ives: who, after the show, meets with Ethan to hire him for what SHE calls some ‘night work’ that she needs an armed man.

She — and the equally mysterious Sir Malcolm Murray, of the Explorer’s Club — take Ethan to one of London’s odder parts of town.

Where the trio end up killer … creatures … that seem both young, old … and very cold, despite being alive … 

It’s only other the course of the episode, we find the creatures aren’t human.   And that the chief amongst them?   Has ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from the Book of the Dead, inscribed under its skin.

The fact we find out the man who examines the creature for Murray and his team is a certain Dr Victor Frankenstein?

Is practically incidental.


At LONG last … ?

At long last, I’ve managed to see this opening episode of Penny Dreadful.

And … ?

Well, frankly, I’m impressed: with the acting, writing, and very high production values of this first episode.

Granted, it doesn’t quite have the spookiness of — say — Sapphire and Steel.   But it’s certainly on a par — possibly slightly ahead of — Game of Thrones in terms of over-all look and feel.   And certainly on a par with Humans

It’s ALSO something I felt I would be glued to, were I to have a Sky subscription: and feel it a shame the BBC isn’t making genre drama of this quality.

As it stands?

I think I’ll be devoting more time to the rest of series 1.

And probably keeping an eye on my local Sainsburys … 

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