Penny Dreadful is a Gothic horror series that mashes up stories from the 1800s—Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc. The story centers on Vanessa Ives, who along with Sir Malcolm Murray and several others, try to save Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina from a vampire.
Be aware, there is full frontal nudity of men and women in this show. Not a lot, but it’s there.
The vampires in Penny Dreadful aren’t the suave sexy kind—they’re grey-skinned, have many sharp teeth, and rip into people, and were never human. The vampire’s human servants are transformed to an extent—white-haired women, all craving blood and fresh flesh. There’s Frankenstein’s Monster, strangely sympathetic for all his murderous ways. It could be said that all the characters are monstrous in their way. There is also a werewolf.
Vanessa is a psychic who is occasionally possessed by…something. The exact nature of her tormentor is part of the central mystery of the show. Sir Malcolm is an adventurer-explorer who left his son to die of sickness in Africa. They recruit first Ethan Chandler, an American sharpshooter, as a man of “great violence and hidden depths”, then Dr. Victor Frankenstein to disect the corpse of a vampire. Others are recruited along the way as they find themselves in need of various specialists.
Frankenstein’s Creature craves revenge, as well as to be loved. Dorian Gray is possessed of a pleasant neutrality that risks nothing, even as he seeks more extreme forms of pleasure. And others with their own stories that intersect with the intersecting stories of the main cast.
Penny Dreadful’s first season was dark and dramatic, and beautiful—both the visuals and the music. The actors all did great jobs bringing their characters to life. I enjoyed Penny Dreadful and look forward to the other two seasons.