"Penny Dreadful" The Day Tennyson Died (TV Episode 2016) Poster

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9/10
Penny Dreadful is a work of art
tlfirth25 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Continuing the trend of the previous two seasons, John Logan provides a backdrop of historic depth to a horror story brimming with death and intrigue. So much has happened so far, and yet this single episode shows there's far more to come. In an episode where we finally believe Vanessa is safe, albeit mentally wounded, a new evil has arisen from the darkness.

With characters split apart in all directions, it's fascinating to see how this show links together now. The tone changes in each location, and yet there's still an emotional connection across all the different stories. For instance, Ethan Chandler's journey to New Mexico is conjoined quite rapidly with Sir Malcolm's as a new face persuades him to rejoin the fray of demons. In both cases, it's great to see the characters in their new settings, what with Chandler returning home, and Sir Malcolm sitting in a place that he once loved, but had been decimated by foreign slavery.

Not much from "Mr. Clare" in the premiere, but enough to understand his journey this season. He's in a mental state where the world doesn't quite fit perfectly with him, and the people around him can't quite take to his unusual behaviour. Dr. Frankenstein's story, however, gets a reintroduction, with new and exciting character, Dr. Jekyll, coming into the picture, with information about the Frankenstein we don't know. Interestingly, despite the last resort being to destroy Lily, Jekyll has managed to persuade the once lovesick Frankenstein to try his own chemical methods first to seduce his creation first. This could be quite a difficult task, considering Lily is now in cohorts with none other than Dorian Gray.

Most importantly, however, comes Vanessa's story, who's been in serious isolation for a while. Clearly, she's unhappy, considering everyone who's left her (Sir Malcolm, Ethan & Mr. Clare), and this sadness, with a little persuasion from Ferdinand Lyle (played exquisitely by Simon Russell Beale), leads her to Dr Seward, someone who will no doubt thoroughly attempt to support Vanessa, but in an entirely new perspective. It was her visit to the national museum, however, that attracted me, and the introduction of quite a simple relationship with Dr. Sweet, that adds a little light to the dark episode.

And, of course, I can't leave without mentioning that stunning final scene, as we are given a short meeting between the timid Renfield and a new, terrifying foe, Dracula. The show is obviously tantalising us with his appearance, but I know it will be quite a spectacular moment, when they finally reveal his true face. Renfield's reaction was quite enough for now though.

With a heavy emphasis on the artistic qualities of this series, Penny Dreadful remains to be a stunning show with a diverse cast and storyline, a superb selection of performances, and cinematography to die for. For those horror, fantasy and historical fans, this truly is a must watch!
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Viva Patti!
lor_2 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This season opener did a fine job of providing the new story lines and exposition to get things rolling, and is laudable for rather amazing production value - I have no idea how these episodic series are budgeted but it really presented each scene and disparate location with the look (however accomplished) of no expense spared - even a credible homage to the train sequence of Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West".

But for me, beyond the excellence of the ensemble cast (of which Billie Piper and Reeve Carney were missing in action for the nonce) was the outstanding professionalism and precision of Patti LuPone as a new key character, Vanessa's alienist Dr. Seward. Last year LuPone gave one of the greatest TV performances I've ever seen, and it is stimulating to see the runners of this series having the good sense to bring her back in a different, recurring role. Her career is already legendary but it is most rewarding to see her return in such quality genre turns (after previously gracing "American Horror Story"), not the entertaining but silly "horror hag" parts that Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Oivia De Havilland delivered in the '60s but something more befitting a great actor. Watching LuPone on "Penny Dreadful" these two seasons is an acting class all in itself.
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