I hate to say it, but my patience for Penny Dreadful is starting to wear a little thin. As I’ve said in the past couple of reviews, while each individual episode makes for a fairly interesting hour, the show as a whole still feels overly disjointed and just sort of random.
“Demimonde” starts off with Dorian participating in some sort of sex party with a bunch of different men and women. It’s obvious that they are trying to make Dorian into the beautiful, glowing person he is in the books, but so far it seems as though the show is trying a bit too hard, with no particular end game in mind. Dorian finally goes and stares at his famous portrait (which we don’t get to see yet), and I just couldn’t help but feel it was an apt visual for Dorian basically sitting around with nothing to do.
Vanessa and Murray remain the most solid in terms of story arc. They both seek Murray’s daughter Mina, who was apparently captured by a badass ancient vampire. The problem that’s facing much of Penny Dreadful is all the damn ambiguity. This is normally a good thing, but this show simply throws out a bunch of random scenes and relies on us as the viewers to assemble the puzzle. This would work a hell of a lot better if the characters themselves were remaining more interesting. It seems like every time something is about to happen, they simply talk it over instead of showing us the action. So little seems to be happening per episode that it feels like we missed the stage in which characters become likable.
For example, many of the characters feel they have enough down time to go see a random “wolfman” play. Even though the scene was beautifully done, and conveyed a certain meta nature, I still have an issue with all these little side trips when half the characters are supposed to be out looking for the ones they care about. Don’t get me wrong, I like development, but these characters don’t seem in much of a hurry to do anything, so I’m having a hard time keeping interest in their extracurricular activities.
Victor and his Monster went from being one of the more interesting duos to one of the more ridiculous. I like that Victor is consulting with the Hieroglyphics man, and it’s awesome that Van Helsing gets mentioned during this episode, but since the over arching story just appears so non existent, I have little interest in the day to day mishaps these people get into.
Ethan continues to be one of the more interesting characters. In terms of background and wants, he’s got a lot more clear minded exposition. That’s not usually a good thing, but in the case of Ethan and Penny Dreadful in general, the show could use a bit more exposition and a bit less, meandering. I like that this show is combining a lot of horror elements, but at this point maybe it’s a bit too much for the writers to handle. Throwing scene after scene at us with no true linking is starting to make the individual episodes feel episodic in themselves and that’s a pretty amateur mistake for a show like this.
I’m not sure what happened. At first the show had a nice sense of humor, and a certain, unruffled nature that was making it feel more pulpy and less serious. Now that has sort of changed, and the show sort of wants to be taken seriously, while still offering up one of the most ridiculous character ensembles in history. I can appreciate what the show is going for in wanting to recreate the atmosphere of the old penny dreadful’s, but there is a reason the genre isn’t all that well known now. It needs to evolve, and unless Penny Dreadful can get back to that balancing act between serious and humorous, I don’t think it’s going to have much of a shot in the long run.
I’m still hoping things improve, but the show is getting less interesting for me as the weeks go on. Glad it’s just 4 episodes left!
Grade = C