Pilot Perception: Penny Dreadful

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Penny Dreadful, Showtime in the U.S. and The Movie Network in Canada, Sundays at 10 ET

The Pedigree: The show was created, written, and executive produced by John Logan of Skyfall and Gladiator. The first episode was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Penny Dreadful stars Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor), Timothy Dalton (License to Kill), Eva Green (Camelot), Reeve Carney (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Danny Sapani (The Fear), and Harry Treadaway (The Lone Ranger).

The Premise: Penny Dreadful is a supernatural psychological thriller that is set in Victorian England and weaves together classic horror characters like Dorian Grey and Dr. Frankenstein.

A Taste:

What Works: The show is very prettily made, atmospheric, and a ton of fun to watch. The cast is good and the writing mostly snappy; the introductions to the characters definitely made me eager to see more. It almost certainly seems as though Penny Dreadful will be an enjoyable ride. Oh, and the opening credits are gorgeous. I’m a sucker for well-made credit sequences.

What Doesn’t: There’s a lot going on in this first episode, and there were a few times when I had to tell myself to stop worrying so much about figuring out where it was all going and just enjoy the ride. Hopefully it will all hold together, but we’ll see. There were a few times when the literary connections seemed eye-rollingly heavily telegraphed – especially with a certain reveal at the end of the hour – but that’s not a huge issue.

Our Favorite Line: “Your kind of man.” “What kind of man is that?” “One of great violence and hidden depths.”

You Might Like This if you like supernatural historical dramas, or if you’re a fan of classic horror novels and don’t mind them being a bit mixed up and changed. The tone reminded me a bit of NBC’s Dracula, and the mash-up of different stories calls to mind Once Upon a Time.

If You’re Interested: The show premieres tonight on Showtime and The Movie Network at 10 ET, or check for it On Demand if you miss it.

(Photo courtesy of Showtime.)

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