On the surface, the first season of Penny Dreadful, by Showtime, is about a group of monster hunters trying to save Mina – the girl from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I think it’s a TV show that most will either love or hate. The critics seem to like it overall, but I know some viewers who have had trouble adapting to how it tells its story. This is understandable. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or leave it during the first few episodes. Then I figured out what Penny Dreadful was really about and how much I was missing. Even some of its fans have missed the real point. (Keep reading to find out what that is.)
The most obvious comparison to make with Penny Dreadful is surely League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which did some things well and some things badly. (The ending of League was pure stupid on buttered toast.) Both feature characters and settings from Victorian England. But Penny Dreadful is not a ripoff of League. Or if it is, then it does whatever League was striving for and does it far better.
When I first started to watch the show, I thought it didn’t know where it was going. Now, I realize the show wasn’t the problem. I was. That’s because I didn’t understand the show’s central conflict. You could say that I was paying attention to the wrong things and waiting for the story arc to turn on the wrong axis.
Here’s the secret toPenny Dreadful: It isn’t about killing vampires or rescuing Mina. These are just the things that get the characters working together on screen. Instead, Penny Dreadful is about the monsters within us all. This isn’t unusual by itself, but the show truly revolves around this theme and focuses on it almost exclusively. The battle against external monsters all but slips into the background. If you pay too much attention to this outer conflict, you’ll miss the good stuff and be underwhelmed. There’s only so much I can say without spoiling it for you, but a closer look at the major characters will give you some things to think about when watching the show.
I must have seen the original Fright Night about a hundred times. So when I saw the promos for the new Fright Night, I had high expectations. To me, the original movie had reinvigorated the whole vampire genre. It took the basic story format I had seen in so many other B-movies and updated it for modern times. I doubt that Fright Night was the first movie to do this, but it was the first one that really left a mark on my young brain.
Roddy McDowall made an especially powerful impression as the cowardly, washed up actor who had to man up to help Charlie save the girl. You know, the average looking one that would later appear in Married … with Children. So when I learned that Peter Vincent would be played by Doctor Who … er, I mean David Tennant … I thought we might have a real winner here. Just in time, too. Twilight has infected all our most recent vampires with the gay. I have nothing against gay people or the Flintstone’s theme song, I just don’t like my vampires with too much glittery gayness on’em. Sorry.
So, did the new Fright Night win? Or did it suck like your mother-in-law’s addiction to Twilight and soon-to-be-dead soap operas?
I had heard of Let The Right One In from the Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current a while ago, but never saw the movie. It sounded good, so when Let Me In came out I was all over it. Both movies were based on a novel by a Swedish author named John Ajvide Lindqvist. I have no freaking idea how you pronounce that, by the way. I have to say this for John–making a 12 year old girl into a vampire just makes sense. Little girls are way creepy. Giv’em fangs and vampire strength, too … now that’s terror. Still, the American movie version of Let Me In was made by the Director of Cloverfield, so…. Hmm.
“Will this movie suck as bad as Cloverfield?1” I asked myself. Probably. But did it?
It’s been years since I read the graphic novel series, The Walking Dead. I didn’t consider it the most original story at the time. There were more than a few cliches from the zombie genre, but the stories were good. It was a comic book series, not a movie or a TV show, and a very grownup one at that. So I gave the series big kudos. Now, AMC has brought us The Walking Dead miniseries to TV. And I thought AMC was for old folks still cursing Hollywood for making the talkies in color. Sometimes, it’s good to be proven wrong.
Or is it?
Is AMC’s The Walking Dead good enough to watch? Or is it just another unnecessary interpretation of something cool that only puts everyone to sleep?