The subtle trick Showtime's "Penny Dreadful is that it is far less about the blood, gore and the specter of gruesome death than the sharp pain and exhilarating pleasure of living, and the terror of feeling alone even in close company. Read our review in the May Picks section.
It is very difficult to describe the true effect of this particular television program. It is far better to understand that one had to be curled up on a sofa, legs tucked under you, with a bag of potato chips or popcorn and a soft drink nearby.
One has to also envisage that the room lights were incandescent, and the heavy baroque furniture and lamp shades (very few had ceiling lights back then) cast shadows over the room.
The show opens with the faces of terribly frightening people looking out at you from a black & white television screen, with an image nowhere as clear as the one we have become used to today.
Now the announcer's voice intones the opening of the show: "What are these people waiting for? They are all waiting for....the... Unexpected!"
No, the 30 minute mini dramas on average never lived up in intensity to the famous opening, but from time to time they came across with one or two that stuck with you..right into your bedtime dreams. Like someone being buried alive, or a vindictive spouse coming back from the grave, or someone on the edge of going to the electric chair for a crime they did not commit.
The show was presented in a 30 minute time frame (with the occasional commercial) and it had to be done reasonably well. No, they weren't as yet up to the quality of the as yet to come - Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but for the time and audience, for the most part, they were entertaining.
Still, . all in all, considering the crap offered to us on cable or satellite television today ... it was not bad!
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