Review: Penny Dreadful ep 1: Nightwork

Posted: September 21, 2014 in gothic, horror, television, Uncategorized, victorian
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Netflix has come to Germany, and with it a show I’ve been eager to dive into.

How could i not be excited to watch a show whose name is adopted from the lurid pulp fiction serials so popular amongst the sensation-hungry Victorians?

Gothic Horror, Victoriana, silks and lace….I’m there!

And a grimly lit macabre opening propels us right into this world.

Next day, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, is offered a job by the mysterious Vanessa Ives.  “Do you believe there is a Demimonde, Mr. Chandler?  A half world between what we know and what we fear?” she asks him.

Episode 101

It turns out that she (a devoutly religious tarot reading woman who might not be fully human) and her partner, Sir Malcom Murray, an African Explorer need help in finding his missing daughter, Mina. Through a funereal opium house they search, coming not upon his daughter, but monsters stemming from the darkest of nightmares.

While it is unclear how long Ives and Murray have been aware of these creatures haunting London, it is evident they definitely know more people are needed in the fight against them. Thus, soon into their fold, the remarkably bold and innovative, Victor Frankenstein, is invited.

The pilot episode is superbly shot, as darly delicous as any Victorian Gothic should be. Boasting divine set designs and costumes, as well as a top-notch cast, it is a welcome beginning.

Yet while all the main ingredients were present, a certain soul or heart was missing. In short, the opener was like a sundae missing the whipped cream and cherry on top. So while I can’t bestow the highest lavish praise upon it, I look forward to what the show can become.

Episode 101

  1. OMG, OMG! I remember when you mention this to show/series to me! I also heard last week or two that Netflix was in Germany but I was not for sure if it was only for the German language Netflix or if we would have the option to watch it also in English. So I past on it until now seeing your post.Therefore question 🙂 : Is the Netflix in Germany only in Deutsch or can it be watch in English also? If also in English I need to tell hubby about it. I understand Deutsch good but sometimes I don’t want to have to be translating in my head as I watch a good movie. I want my brain to be on auto pilot, lol. Great post and I can’t wait to watch this series!

  2. Luke says:

    Ahh man, from the preview on the WordPress Reader this sounded and looked like an awesome show. I hadn’t even heard of it before. Yet now, after hearing that it is lacking heart…I’m not so sure.

    Will you be reviewing episode two? If so then I may just see what you have to say about that before giving it a go 🙂

  3. Oh Lora, I’m so sorry! I’d actually meant to write to you to let you know about Netflix. Then forgot to. gah!

    You get a free one month trial. And most of the shows are in both English and German. Including Penny Dreadful 🙂

  4. HI Luke,

    Yes, I plan to review all the eps. (probably once or twice a week).

    I think the reason the first ep seemed to lack heart to me is that Pilot episodes are notoriously difficult. They only have about an hour to introduce the setting, main story, and the major characters. Now that that is done, I’m hoping that in the next episodes they will slow down a bit and dive deeper into the characters.

    Despite how I ended the reveiw, I did quite like it, and think it has tons of potential. I feel optimistic. 🙂

  5. sputnitsa says:

    Denizens of the world wish to know how the rest of the season feels. Especially me. 🙂 Especially the heart bit.

  6. Well, natch I can’t disappoint my Sputsie 😉

  7. Lora.

    Thanks for the reminder! And American Horror Story: Freak Show also starts in October. 🙂

  8. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I haven’t seen this show as I don’t have Showtime (well, no cable tv at all) or a Netflix subscription. After the debacle that was “Dracula” (the dialogue was trite and contrived, and completely modern; the costumes were cheap and garish, especially the women’s dresses that looked like homemade prom dresses) I can’t say I’m going to bother subscribing unless it gets some really really off-the-rails glowing reviews.

  9. Hey DD,

    I hadn’t heard of the show based on Dracula. heh. Maybe that’s why.

    Glad to say this show doesn’t suffer from the above.

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