A Life Of Fiction CIX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

 

Penny Not Quite So Dreadful: Recently I picked up the first season of Penny Dreadful on DVD. I had put off buying this because I had read a few bad reviews concerning the series. But I had seen a few clips on the TV, during advert breaks, and the compelled me to go out and purchase the series for myself.

The series is set in the same time period in which I have set a few of my gas-lamp fantasy novels: the 1890s. That was another reason why I wanted to pick it up, and make up my own mind about it.

From the reviews it sounded like it had a lot of the elements of what I think of as gas-lamp fantasy. There is the late Victorian period setting. There are aspects of mysticism and horror. It has a collection of heroes gathered together to oppose the dark forces. That, to me, is important. It should not just be about the horror. You have to have heroes to oppose the darkness.

The title, Penny Dreadful, refers to cheap, populist publications of the Victorian era. These, generally speaking, were badly printed tales of crime and horror. The most famous of these is probably Varney the Vampire, published in the mid-1840s, and coming out over half a century before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That publication actually makes a brief appearance in the series (I hope that I am not giving away too much by saying that).

I don’t think that I’m giving anything away by saying that Penny Dreadful features the characters Mina Harker, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, Dorian Gray, and several original characters.

The best of the actors, in my humble opinion, is Timothy Dalton, who brings some much-needed gravitas as Mr Murray, the father of Mina Harker. It is around him that the first season resolves, from what I have seen of it (I have not yet finished watching it), and his attempt to save his daughter from the affliction affecting her. I think that anybody who has read Bram Stoke can guess what that affliction is.

Somebody should tell Billie Piper that she cannot do an Irish accent, though. It took about five minutes of listening to her mangle her vowels before I realised that she was supposed to come from Ireland.

There is plenty of sex in this series. It seems that, after Game Of Thrones, such series are only considered to be adult if there is plenty of shagging in them. I am neutral on such things. I would, occasionally, prefer them to carry on with a different sort of action.

Watching some of the episodes my attention occasionally wanders. But that may just be me, as I have had concentration problems ever since my mental breakdown years ago. But when Penny Dreadful gets it right, such as in the episode Closer Than Sisters, it really is very good.

I find myself recommending Penny Dreadful to people who are into the gas-lamp fantasy genre. Just ignore the fact that they play fast and loose with some of the mythology of these characters, and go along for the ride. I don’t think that you will be disappointed.

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