Over the last few months, Showtime has carefully deployed a trio of different teasers for their upcoming horror series, the coyly titled Penny Dreadful, in an effort to promote its existence. While each clip plays at about a half a minute’s length, they’re each disturbing and suggestive in their own ways, sketching a broad outline of what sorts of thrills we can expect from showrunner and Skyfall scribe John Logan’s premium cable venture; there’s not much by way of plot in any of them, but they effectively convey the intended point regardless.
Now, we have a full trailer, and while it’s also a bit short on plot it’s no less unnerving for it. Here, we make better acquaintance with the show’s two leads, man of action Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and enigmatic heroine Vanessa Ives (Eva Green); we’ve previously seen Ms. Ives unsuccessfully attempting to exercise herself of her demons, whatever they may be, but this is our first time meeting Chandler. Likely he has a demon or two of his own, but we’ll find out once the show airs this Spring.
In the meantime, Showtime has taken their first real stab at establishing what the Penny Dreadful universe will be like on camera: delightfully creepy and full of mystery. We know, of course, that the show toys with the origins of few hand-picked icons from the horror rogue’s gallery – such as Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and Dracula – but it’s quite not as clear what Ives and Chandler have to do with any of them at this point.
The most obvious scenario is that they (and others, like Timothy Dalton’s veteran explorer, seen here in brief) are out to track these supernatural characters down in some capacity or another, playing detective in a version of Victorian-era London populated by monsters and freaks from all walks of life. Seems like a perfectly fine starting-off point for a new show, and there’s such a wealth of material that Penny Dreadful can call on for potential future seasons that it’s hard not to get excited at possibilities down the line.
That’s getting ahead a bit, though, since we haven’t even seen a single episode from the show’s first run. For the moment, it seems reasonable to say that Showtime has done well capturing the appropriate mood and tone for Penny Dreadful; the trailer alone hints at a spooky, atmospheric, and alluringly cryptic series.
Horror has been making big strides on TV of late, with adaptations of known contemporary properties, whether they’re based on movies (Hannibal, Bates Motel) or comics (The Walking Dead), coming into vogue (to say nothing of original mash-ups like American Horror Story); genre fans ought to be thrilled at the idea of giving similar treatment to the classics, which is what Penny Dreadful seems to be all about. We’ll find out for sure this May – will you tune in to watch?
Penny Dreadful premieres on Showtime on May 11th, 2014.