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Published on May 14th, 2014 | by Key Reads

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Penny Dreadful Brings Literary Horror to the TV

You might think that Penny Dreadful is just a new Showtime drama, but the term “penny dreadful” actually dates back to the 19th century. Similar to pulp fiction, it referred to serialized horror stories printed in England. Now, the TV show Penny Dreadful is bringing us back to Victorian London for a weekly dose of horror, literacy, and a bit of the supernatural.

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Airing every Sunday on Showtime, Penny Dreadful was created and written by John Logan, the writer behind some of our favorite movies from the last 15 years, including Gladiator, Hugo, and Skyfall. His inspiration came from reading Frankenstein, finding a connection between his (growing up as a gay man) and the monster’s isolation from accepted society. In Penny Dreadful, Logan revives Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and other classic characters in a dark historical fantasy with equal doses of horror and literature. The stories of these characters weave into one another through a narrative involving supernatural bounty hunters.

And with a horrifying premise comes a horrifying cast. Eva Green stars as the commanding and terrifying Vanessa Ives, Timothy Dalton as explorer Sir Malcolm, and Josh Hartnett as the sharpshooter Ethan Chandler. Together, they hunt down Dracula and other threats and lead you in every direction through the darkness of Victorian England.

The first episode aired on May 11. Before the second one airs, here’s your brief of the first episode. The show starts in 1891 in London, right around the time when, in our universe, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and The Picture of Dorian Gray were published for the first time. Police investigate several horrifying murders, not knowing the truth behind them. Vanessa Ives and Sir Malcolm Murray, on the other hand, know about the strangeness behind the murders. They proposition Dr. Frankenstein himself as well as Ethan Chandler, an American sharp-shooter, to join them, and begin the quest to find the supernaturals.

There will be a new episode every Sunday for a total of 8 episodes this season. You can stay up to date on the latest episodes on Penny Dreadful Recap, and you’ll also find information about all the characters, monsters, and literary references in the show.


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