By Andrew Schmaltz 7-18-14
Let me establish from the outset that I am not a fan of “cop shows”. And, of course, there are exceptions to the rule, I love Castle (for Fillion), I very much enjoyed SouthLAnd, and the short lived but excellent The Chicago Code. I do not enjoy “cop shows” because they tend to demand so little from the viewer. The CSIs and NCIS’s and Blue Bloods’s (which I admit I have never really watched but seems to be cut from the same cloth as its on CBS and stars a well-known, handsome male lead in his late 50s or early 60s who is competent, straight forward and very handsome) all appeal to the lowest common denominator. Tune in, watch a 42 minute mystery that is always the same. The heroes do their thing, are very smart and attractive and the killer gets caught in time for helpful wrap-up scene.
Penny Dreadful is not a “cop show”. It is a Historical/Supernatural/Mystery/Family Drama. This show not only requires an engaged viewership willing to endure the emotionally wrenching trials of the characters but a working knowledge of Classic English Language Victorian Horror Literature. The characters of Victor Frankenstein, his Creation(s), Dorian Gray, Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula all are included to varying degrees in this intriguing Showtime drama. To crib Aaron Sorkin, “this is Advanced Television Viewing”. Not easy but demanding is part of the point.
I came to this show late and binge watched which made for immediate pay off. I am normally an Event Watcher. I pay for HBO so I can watch Game of Thrones every Sunday, and True Blood and the Newsroom (I’m a life long Sorkin fan). I will watch The Walking Dead and Mad Men every week when they return. Penny Dreadful in season 2 will become Event Viewing for me. I will revel in the 7 days between episodes to talk about and theorize over the episodes. This show demands and deserves that kind of attention. I am happy to pay that price.
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