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.
A riveting study of a man in pain and a nation in agony
A divorced British cancer specialist, Dr. Will Self (Bob Peck) travels to China in 1989 to track down a Chinese doctor who has published ground-breaking research into the disease. His search proves difficult, for this doctor has fallen foul of the Communist regime, and they would rather he were not found. Dr Self, however, is persistent, for he is driven not primarily by intellectual curiosity but by the grief he still suffers for his own young son, who has died of cancer, despite all of his own medical skills.
In the course of his search he unexpectedly finds love, and a measure of healing for his soul, and his experience mirrors the rising tide of hope for China as the democracy movement takes wing. But tragedy is to come in the bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square.
Bob Peck turns in a superb portrayal of emotional pain held in by English middle class restraint that is reminiscent of his character in 'Edge of Darkness' and underlines what a sad loss to the acting profession was his early death from cancer, that bloody awful disease.
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