Thursday, August 14, 2014

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is a Showtime series. There are 8 episodes in Season 1 which came out earlier this year. It is part of their on-demand library as well which makes it pretty easy to view if you have that option.

The setting is 1890's London. The central character is Sir Malcom Murray, played by Timothy Dalton. From the Wiki "...a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest to find his kidnapped daughter Mina." I'm sure many of you can see where this is going.

Soon enough we have a young doctor named Victor, a gentleman named Dorian, and a whole sort of alternate take on a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen type of situation. It is smaller scale  than that, and there are no submarines, but there are similarities in the concept. Sembene is the African who came back with Sir Malcolm, Josh Hartnett plays Chandler, the American gunslinger who is clearly running from something, Billie Piper is a street girl with some health issues, and Eva Green plays Miss Ives, like-a-daughter to Sir Malcolm and who has a connection to the spirit world. I could assign D&D type classes and roles to them but I'll leave that as an entertaining exercise for you while you watch the show.

It's a horror series and a lot of bad things happen but there are two main questions I see as themes:
  • What do you do when your past comes back to haunt you?
  • How far will you go to make things right?
We've watched the whole series once and both Lady Blacksteel and I liked it. If you like Victorian era shows and/or supernatural stuff it's worth watching. With only 8 episodes it's pretty tight so there's no filler here. Backstories are revealed very efficiently. Plots unfold and quite a few are resolved by the end of the season, with a few of them left open nicely for Season 2.

Melee fighter, mage, ranged fighter, paladin (OK I lied)

The show follows a Call of Cthulu/Shadowrun -esque pattern of research, planning, individual drama/relationships, then an expedition that results in some violence and new questions to be checked out before another expedition. When they go into the field they look very much like a PC adventuring party.

Every episode made us want to watch the next one rightnow! We didn't always, but we did watch some back to back. We both thought it was pretty well done. The acting is very strong and it's a show that takes a serious tone almost all of the time. There's not a lot of comedy here, but it's interesting. Both the characters and the things that happen around them are interesting enough to keep your attention, at least for us. It's a pay cable series so there is some language, some naked, and some violence - I'm not planning to watch it with the kids anytime soon.

If you're at all interested in the time period or a fairly serious approach to supernatural horror stories, take a look.

DM Notes: I can see the character creation session in my head: OK you're a British nobleman, you're an ... African tribesman? And you're playing a psychic girl? And you're a ... cowboy?! He's a doctor ... and his hunted is an intelligent flesh golem? What about you - "I want to play an Elf" - there aren't any elves. "Well then I'm a very pretty immortal human.". Sigh.

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