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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 1 January 2015
An interesting take on the gothic angle with a combination of a number of well known stories and themes. Great cast all round, but for me, Rory Kinnear's monster, Billie Piper's Irish prostitute and Eva Green's troubled young woman stand out.
A second series ('season' if you're in America) is planned apparently, so we'll see if the writers manage to continue (or improve upon) the excellent story-line.
Even if you're not keen on supernatural / horror stories, it's worth giving this a go for the period recreation which is very well done (costumes / sets) but watch out, there's more than a bit of bodice ripping going on. The goriness aside, there are some fairly graphic scenes involving the lead characters........
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on 26 January 2015
This show was brilliant from start to finish. As a fan of the Victorian gothic tradition of horror I was captivated from the very beginning, at times the pace is measured, and there are a lot of scenes that are just conversations, but it was riveting to me.
The acting across the board was great, Josh Hartnett as a stoic and mysterious American with hidden depths managed to bring a lot of character moments to his Ethan Chandler that were surprising and intimate. Eva Green was spellbinding as a dark gothic beauty with possible demonic possession and managed to form the core of the series, everything seemingly revolving around her, and some of the choices and extremes that as an actress she goes too are scintillating. Finally Timothy Dalton is possibly the best I have ever seen him here, stealing the whole show for me with his portrayal of a vain and damaged man.
Overall if you like atmospheric horror then this is the show for you, it looks stunning in HD and you can tell that good money was spent on getting this correct. I cannot wait for season 2.
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on 5 January 2015
Gothic horror fans are rarely offered a treat so delicious and well-polished as 'Penny Dreadful', so naturally the whole premise of the show seemed too good to be true when I first encountered it. Not only is the premise great, but this is one of the most intriguing, dark, visually stunning, well acted, perfectly cast, and utterly engaging series I have come across in a long time. With the announcement of a second season airing in 2015, there is no better time to begin your journey into the frightening, dark, and rich world of 'Penny Dreadful'.
The very concept of having all these different and equally famous literary characters under one roof sounds convoluted and potentially messy, and yet the show manages to weave all of these characters together into one coherent narrative. Faces such as Dr. Frankenstein, Van Helsing, and Dorian Grey are all present here, so if you're a fan of classic gothic literature from the likes of Oscar Wilde and Mary Shelly, then naturally this will intrigue you. Some original characters are added into the mix too, such as the mysterious and enigmatic Vanessa Ives as played by Eva Green, and Green's performance here is one of the best I have ever seen in any TV series. I'd describe to you just how versatile Green's performance is, how much passion and energy she places into this challenging role, but it's better if you find out for yourself.
All the characters are perfectly cast, with Timothy Dalton being a particular selling point as Sir Malcolm, but I was particularly touched by Harry Treadaway's performance, and Rory Kinnear is also given a very unusual role to play and gives an equally unusual and tender performance to match it. I won't reveal any more than that in terms of characters.
Visually speaking, the show is incredibly artistic, the bleak skylines and architecture of Victorian London emphasised here to some degree, and if you're a fan of dark, visual shows, you'll be hard pressed to find a more well-realised depiction of the historical setting.
The horror itself doesn't shy away from gore, so keep that in mind. If you're a fan of the works of Guillermo Del Toro, director of films such as Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Blade II, then this is right up your street.
Cannot recommend this enough, and if I have just one recommendation, it would be to savour this like a fine wine. It's rare to come across something this good.
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VINE VOICEon 29 January 2017
Review of the Blu Ray version

Penny Dreadful takes several iconic Victorian-era horror creations, Frankenstein, Dorian Grey and several characters from Dracula among others, and throws them into a single, entertaining but very adult plot. The production quality is absolutely top class for a TV production, putting most feature films to shame and the cast matches that quality with Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Rory Kinnear and Josh Hartnett all excellent. Supporting characters are also top notch with the likes of Alun Armstrong and David Warner appearing in small roles. The freedom of modern TV production means that this is an often gory and sexually explicit show, so the 18 rating is very appropriate.

Blu-ray picture quality is excellent. The discs feature a number of interesting behind the scenes featurettes.
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To some extent this series is a bit of a mess! There is so much going on that it's easy to get lost amongst the mixture of plot elements that appear to have been put together rather in the manner of someone cheating when completing a puzzle by cutting the first pieces they pick up to force them to fit. We have Frankenstein's creation displaced in time and space competing for top spot with Dracula who appears to have spirited Mina away from a father she never originally had. He seems to be a kind of Allan Quartermain explorer type obsessed with finding the origin of the Nile and racked with guilt over the loss of both children: his son accompanied him on one ill-fated trip. (A kind of) Buffalo Bill, in the guise of Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) also plays a prominent part together with Dorian Gray convincingly mincing his way through the lot and corrupting any and every one he can literally lay his hands upon. And in the monster's attraction to Maude, an ingénue playing at the local Grand Guignol theatre, there is even a hint of Gaston Laroux's famous phantom.

Central to all this mayhem is the figure of Vanessa Ives played by Eva Green who gives an astonishing performance as the possessed friend of Mina whose aforementioned father, Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), is convinced holds the key to his daughter's fate: so chuck in a bit of the Exorcist as well! A brilliantly hammy turn by Simon Russell Beale as an utterly dotty Egyptologist and a curious sprinkling of Billie Piper as a consumptive Irish prostitute completes the dish. All we are missing is Mr Hyde: but (hopefully) it's still early days yet!

So, utterly unoriginal and yet utterly compelling: it's fun and works precisely because it plays upon the viewer's knowledge of all of those Gothic ingredients to create a heady brew that looks absolutely sumptuous and is very, very definitely for adult consumption only. This is the grown-up relative of the recent Jonathan Rees Myers, Dracula which, though good, is a pale shadow of this gloriously exotic concoction.

It's highly probable you will have seen nothing like it on television before!
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on 23 July 2015
I read a lot of positive reviews about this series but do not subscribe to Sky so had to wait for the boxed set. It was worth the wait; I found the whole series totally engrossing and loved the re-working of all the famous characters of the genre. Yes, it is victorian melodrama embellished with graphic content and there are flaws in the script but the cast list is stellar so the quality of the acting is superb and carries some of the more questionable and cringeworthy script moments. Love the styling too. Cannot wait for series two - but not prepared to subscribe to Sky for it!
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on 5 December 2016
What a truly wonderful show, a dark portrayal of lovable Victorian Gothic characters, that interweave through the tormented story of Vanessa Ives. Three seasons of hauntingly beautiful and harrowing compelling TV to watch - don't miss out.
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on 17 October 2014
A Fantastic and intriguing show about dark side in each of us. Eva Green is magically inspired; the set and the locations are perfectly reconstructed in order to feel the wit and the "magic" atmosphere of a doom Victiorian London. The elements involved in the show are a lot: we can follow the story of a young dr. Victor Frankenstein, we can have a bright and doom glimpse of the pervert life of Dorian Gray and even Dracula (without fogetting the old old story of Egyptian gods, who are like modern vampires, as we mean. This is not clear.)Nevertheless these stories are perfectly mingled and the show is brilliant, dark, gothic and at also new in the content. We never see Dracula himself but we can smell and feel his traces in every episode. But I imagine that in season 2 Dracula will be unleashed in all his bloody and erotic fury.
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VINE VOICEon 25 December 2014
OK, I'm a bit biased by the presence of Eva Green, but this is going to be a more dispassionate review... no, really!
It's a concept that shouldn't work: throwing all manner of Victorian monsters and horror tropes together into an ongoing series and playing fast and loose with the original source-material, but the sheer elan of the writing, the superb production values and the brilliance of the casting make this an almost-five star triumph. Knitting together this first season is the search for his daughter Mina by Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and the disparate band of companions he gathers together, all of whom have their own troubles and tribulations to bring to the quest. Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) a sideshow gunslinger hiding a secret past, Harry Treadaway as a doctor with a burning desire to conquer death, and Eva Green as Vanessa, driven by an urge not entirely her own to find her childhood friend Mina. To say more would give too much away, but the joy of the series lies not in its (sometimes predictable) plot developments, but in the subtleties of the characterisation, the darkness of the tone and the skill with which these well-known figures are being brought together in a new story.
The end of Season 1 promises darker developments still and I'll be there keeping a protective eye on Eva.
Damn! I tried to be dispassionate, but it didn't quite come off, did it?
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on 29 May 2015
Well, stuck with Virgin media, which hasnt the rights to show the Atlantic channel, my only way to see this was to buy this season 1 set. In the words of Mr Milliband, Was I impressed? "Hell Yes"!!! This is a huge Eye candy From Sky Original. I must admit, I my appetite was already whetted, because Im already a Huge Bond fan, and Eva Green and Timothy Dalton are among my favourites. I was also quite surprised to see Bond producer, Sam Mendes as part of the production team.

As an old Hammer Horror buff and off the X files series, I wasnt quite prepared to be shocked!! There is a lot going on in series, to much to go right into, but its rated 18 for a very good reason. But this is no low budget American slasher outing, this is a sumptuous banquet of Victoriana at its best.

To its credit, its refreshing to see adult content of quite a really graphic proportions, and not try and hide it behind over zelous censors. Each episode, you really dont want to watch while having dinner or at midnight!!

Im only into disc 2 second episode, but thats enough already, to see the incredible performances of all actors in this Feast. Timothy Dalton is well cast of course for this kind of outing, Eva Green, what can you say about her, except, she gets better and more accomplished every time she appears on screen. Rory Kinnear, surprises us, from being mild mannered "Ms" assistant to a totally different beast / person, which shows hes an underestimated actor. "Seance" so far is my favourite episode, its just so......WoW!, it makes the Ouija board film look like an afternoon matinée. Great screenplay and good camera skills, make you almost jump out of your seat. Technically, the effects, like the glass table fracturing are flawless, as is Greens performance as the medium, for her fathers sins, totally blown away, with the colourful language, and the depth of her charactor. Who would have though Dr Whos Assistant Billie Piper would also stand up as the Irish Prostitute, obviously suffering consumption, but totally believable. Josh Hartnett, seems to be taking all in his stride, until that is he, is subdued by the young man, who i think is a vampire?? Two guys ripping of each others clothes, and Eva Green making love naked to a ghost, is just so shocking, its positively delightful, that then scenes are there for a purpose, and I found the going back in time with her sister, walking on the beach, and Vanessa goes through a traumatizing time, locked up in an aslyum, which was heavy stuff. from time to time guest actors arrive, and was more than happy to see the great David Warner appear as Professor Van Helsing.

If you love Gohic, love the victorian era, want to watch a good horror story that pulls no punches, with a cast to die for, look no further than "Penny Dreadful".........Just, please be responsible and not let it into the hands or be watched by Minors, it is a powerful series, with some extreme violence and a lot of hard sexual content, Grannie would also probably pass out!! Highly recommended!! 5*****
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