Showtime is hoping for a new hit in the original programming department with Penny Dreadful, the upcoming horror series created by Oscar-nominated writer/producer John Logan (The Aviator, Hugo) and executive produced by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (who directed Skyfall based on the script co-penned by Logan).
The show takes place in Victorian London, where characters from such iconic novels as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Portrait of Dorian Gray collide in an alternate reality – one where “science and superstition walk hand in hand,” to borrow the phrasing from the latest Penny Dreadful teaser. That clip shows the bloody aftermath left by some escaped creature (Frankenstein’s Monster? Some other unnatural beast designed in a laboratory?) and includes voiceover by two unidentified gentlemen discussing a world unconstrained by “truth.”
It’s arguably a more intriguing preview than the previous teasers, which highlight imagery (stitched-up corpse skin) and scenarios (demonic possession) that will be extremely familiar to anyone well-versed in the area of classic supernatural horror tropes. However, Logan – during a recent interview with EW – basically promised to re-invigorate these cliche elements and make them as troubling and truly horrifying as they were once intended to be.
Calling Penny Dreadful a “highly erotic” and “very bloody” show, Logan went on to explain his intention with the series:
“When I was first talking to Sam Mendes about it, the word I came up with was disturbing. It’s not enough to scare people because that’s a cheaper sensation. But to unsettle and disturb people on a deeper level because they feel familiarity with monstrous characters is really our goal.”
Check out a new image from the Penny Dreadful TV series, below:
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Picture above is Penny Dreadful lead Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night) as the charmingly brash Ethan Chandler and Eva Green (300: Rise of an Empire) as the steely Vanessa Ives, both of whom are characters haunted by their past – at the least, figuratively, and quite probably literally haunted, to some degree. Other noteworthy cast members who are confirmed for the series include Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace), Timothy Dalton (The Tourist) and Helen McCrory (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 & 2).
Fox’s supernatural horror/history mashup Sleepy Hollow has proven to be a good deal of fun, but Penny Dreadful may appeal to the genre’s fans who are in the mood for something a little more high-minded – a show that also has a chance of actually making their skin crawl, no less. If Logan delivers, then Showtime could wind up with the success that it’s looking for.
Penny Dreadful begins airing on Showtime in 2014.