An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, a hotel, a possessed farmhouse, a cult, and the apocalypse.
Adventurer James Keziah Delaney returns to London during the War of 1812 to rebuild his late father's shipping empire. However, both the government and his biggest competitor want his inheritance at any cost - even murder.
Dracula acts more as a permeating force throughout the series, than actually being a physical threat. The same goes for about three quarters of the book.
Dr. Seward uses a phonograph, which was a novelty when the original book was published.
"Children of the night, what music they make" is a reference to the original Dracula (1930) starring Béla Lugosi, as the Count says "what sweet music they make" in the book.
The characters Dracula, Professor Van Helsing, Mina Harker (née Murray), Dr. Seward, and Renfield all have a role in Penny Dreadful. Jonathan Harker is only mentioned.
Major differences and liberties taken from the original book:
Dr. Seward is American in this show. The only American in the original, was a Texas man called Quincey Morris.
Renfield is Dr. Seward's secretary in the series. In the book, he's an assistant to a real estate agent that gets touched by the evil of Dracula and goes insane in the process, leaving him with a constant lust for the blood of small living creatures.
Rather than fully fledged vampires, the Dracula of the series seems to be more reliant on an army of vampiric minions, similar to Renfield. In the first season, the party of heroes is attacked by more "traditional" fang sporting vampires.
In the book, there are only five vampires: Dracula, his three brides, and Lucy Westenra. While Mina Harker is portrayed as a vampire in multiple films and series, including this show and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2004), she's never fully turned into a vampire in the novel.
Professor Van Helsing only plays a small role in this show. In the book, he leads the "pack of hounds after the fox", as the human protagonists travel far and wide in pursuit of The Count.
The pilot episode was a typical getting-to-know-you episode where it introduces most of the characters and some intriguing aspects. At first, I was like, "Oh gods above not another vampire show" - boy, was I wrong. By the end of the second episode, I was totally hooked by Eva Green's performance alone. Just stunning work by her in the séance scene. Totally blew me away.
Don't judge a show by it's pilot. Otherwise there would be none at all.
This show is definitely not your average telling of famous stories (vampires, Dorian Gray) as it takes the most gruesome aspects of those tales and incorporates them in whatever manner suits the storyline; Penny Dreadful does not shy away from the taboo, something that has been plaguing certain stories such as Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. This show loves the grotesque and downright sinister nature of storytelling and can depend on its actors to do the job right.
I am highly intrigued by what's to come. It's gritty, filthy, and utterly captivating. I can't see love triangles or any soap opera clichés on the horizon and that makes me optimistic.
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