Penny Dreadful: Night Work Review -

Penny Dreadful Review

Mania Grade: B

9 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Episode: Night Work (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • Starring: Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Billie Piper, Timothy Daulton
  • Written By: John Logan (creator), John Logan
  • Directed By: J.A. Bayona
  • Network: Showtime
  • Studio: Octagon Films
  • Series:

Penny Dreadful: Night Work Review

Pilot Episode Premiere

By Jarrett Kruse     May 12, 2014

The Penny Dreadful Premiere
© Showtime
Showtime continues to make a run at HBOs stellar original programming with their newest entry, PENNY DREADFUL and it does not disappointment. While the pilot episode is a tad uneven, it is still a solid entry to the pay TV 10 PM slot. The horror element is going to be one of the shows staples making the shows old flagship show, DEXTER, look like an appetizer compared with the bloodbath of late 19th century London. While the pilot does leave a lot to be desired, it was a well done entry that kept me wanting morethe sign in my book of a solid new show. It comes from excellent pedigree with big time Hollywood heavyweights John Logan and Sam Mendes as executive producers setting the bar of the production very high. Overall the pilot is satisfying but it is way too early to make a fair analysis and judgment on the series. Still, I definitely think that this is a show to keep your eye on by getting in on the ground floor.

PENNY DREADFUL makes excellent use of its time allotment filling each frame with morsels of information about the very strange world that is 1891 London. Starring former James Bond Timothy Dalton, ex-Bond babe Eva Green, the dropped off the Hollywood radar Josh Hartnett and Harry Treadaway, PENNY DREADFUL dives deep into the gory underground of monsters, ghouls and gore of the London underworld. The story is fairly simple: Daltons Sir Malcolm Murray is a well to do gentleman whose daughter has been mysteriously kidnapped without a trace. Assisting Sir Malcolm in his quest to find his baby girl is Vanessa Ives, a sort of supernatural type that is very well versed in the ways of the occult and otherworldly beings. And spiders; she definitely knows some stuff about spiders. It really is Eva Greens show and her Vanessa is really the heart of the narrative. Her mysterious nature hints that she indeed knows more than she is letting on. Hartnetts Ethan Chandler is an American crack shot gunslinger with a traveling show who is recruited by Vanessa to be a part of their supernatural crime fighting team. Rounding out the crew is a young doctor whom we find at the end of the episode to be none other than Dr. Frankenstein himself. It is very hard to not compare the show to Alan Moores LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN as we begin to get to know the core characters of the sometimes gory show.

The opening of the episode sees a woman get snatched up right off the toilet leaving an indelible memory of just how creepy these baddies are. Upon recruiting Ethan, Sir Malcolm, Vanessa and the American descend into the bowels of London and encounter some seriously spooky characters. A gun and sword fight ensues as they take on these night peopleleaving a very bloody trail. It is all to rescue Sir Malcolms missing daughter but it struck me as a little confusing and Ethan Chandler agrees wondering what his role in all of this really is. He is startled by this Gothic underworld and is doing his best to process just what exactly he is witnessing as the triumvirate kill their way through all sorts of creepy monster-like beings. It is when they bring a strange corpse to the young Dr. Frankenstein that they encounter clues beneath the bodies skinthat baffle them. The show and specifically their time underground is filled with a whole lot of blood. And I mean a lot of blood. At one point their is an entire floor filled with entrails.

Overall I think that this was an excellent introduction to the world of PENNY DREADFUL. The dialogue is very smart (thanks Mr. Logan) and the production design is brilliantly realized. Just what exactly the show has planned is anybodys guess but I am willing to invest my time in the blood soaked mystery. The world of Jack the Ripper London is realized beautifully and rivals the RDJ Sherlock Holmes movies. The journey into the macabre looks like it is going to be a heck of a lot of fun. The big reveal that the young doctor is in fact Dr. Frankenstein is one that I did not see coming and although the docs monster is not scary, it is interesting to think that he will be used as a member of this supernatural crime fighting squad. The meshing of horror and excellent drama make for a refreshing take with the shows caretakers making the narrative hard to resist. While it is too early to make a call on PENNY DREADFUL, I am intrigued enough to continue to tune in.
Follow Mania on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest genre news and reviews.  


Showing items 1 - 9 of 9
ElBaz13 5/12/2014 10:44:43 AM

Wow! This looks cool. I never heard of this show.

Question: Is Showtime like HBO/Starz or more like AMC/FX.

Meaning. Can we see boobs?

madmanic999 5/12/2014 10:46:41 AM

 Loved it, thought Green was excellent, Dalton was spot on, and Hartnet surprisingly tolerable. I could have done without Frankenweiner shots, but overall loved it.

i'm in. 

madmanic999 5/12/2014 11:41:22 AM

 Elbaz13, considering Frankenstein's wiener was flying all over the place, I'd say boobs are a safe bet.

madmanic999 5/12/2014 11:42:32 AM


ElBaz13 5/12/2014 12:06:50 PM

I'm not into weiners but there is potential for boobs

blankczech 5/12/2014 5:13:40 PM

 Elbaz13...I'm not sure whether you're kidding or not, but Showtime is like HBO / Starz.  In other words it's a high priced premium (subscription) channel.

madmaniac999...Frankenstein is the young doctor.  It was his creation's weiner that was flying all over the place. 

This show was intriguing...albeit a little gross and disgusting at times (I'm an old dude so the full frontal male nudity was uncomfortable to put it in politically correct terms).  I'll hang in for the duration...why the heck am I paying for these premium channels if I'm not going to watch their original programming.

There will be comparisons between this and HBO's True Blood.  Based on the first episode, Dreadful looks darker and more frightening the original American Horror Story...only uncensored.

ElBaz13 5/12/2014 7:11:58 PM

I wasn't kidding blank. I'm in Canada and we don't get Showtime or Starz. The big shows on those networks appear up here on premium channels like The Movie Network (sort of a Canada's HBO). We also have premium cable networks but have diferent names, so Showtime is new to me never heard of it.

I just looked up on wiki and saw shows like Dexter, Homeland and Shameless are from Showtime. See, I had no clue. Those shows pop up on different premium networks up here.


blankczech 5/14/2014 7:26:33 PM

 ElBaz...Thanks for that info.  I had no idea that it worked that way.  You can access the Mania website on your computer (I assume it's an American site).  Can you watch any U.S.A. television on the internet?  One of my favorite TV Series is Continuum a Canadian show which airs on our SyFy network...I know you guys get to see it a lot earlier than we do down here (we just started Season 3). 

ElBaz13 5/16/2014 5:57:46 AM

No, we can't access/stream shows from the US up here. Well, the legit sites like Hulu and stuff like that. But no worries, that's what torrents are all about ;-) Blame our good old Canadian government for that (long story). Which is what drives us to look into piracy.  It's funny how a few years ago, so advocate in the US against piracy blasted Canada for being the biggest ones in the world. The reasons why? 1) CRTC rules that block out US programming because they were not approved by them. They also want to protect Canadian content on Canadian stations, thus limiting US stuff 2) Canada is like the US. It's like US junior. We have pretty much the same type of cultures, language, etc... So yes...we will tend towards US programming more than French or British shows. We have a stronger rapport with the US.

Just watched the first 2 episodes and fully hooked.



You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.