Pound Wise, Penny Dreadful

“We stopped checking for monsters under the bed when we realised they were inside us”

I’ve got monsters on my mind. With the latest Showtime TV Horror Series, Penny Dreadful having concluded with a legend-wait for it- dary Season 1, can you blame me? The name Penny Dreadful refers to “a type of 19th-century cheap British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter”. In the Show, the gruesome acts of monsters are made known to the general public of London via Penny Dreadfuls. The Show brings together some of the most popular fictional monsters created on paper including Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Monster & Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Throw in a werewolf (who might be the legendary Jack the Ripper) and ancient Egyptian Mythology and put a spin on the story and voila you’ll find out how dreadfully good, Penny Dreadful is!

While a monster is portrayed as a freak of nature by way of biological or psychological defects and regarded as inherently evil, the root of “monstrum” is “monere” which also means to instruct. Saint Augustine apparently saw monsters as part of the natural order and their existence being deliberate which means he probably held the view that there was something to learn from monsters. With the iconic monsters in Penny Dreadful keeping you glued to your screen, you’re practically yelling “Teach me, teach me, teach me!”. If any of them monsters were to answer they’d probably say “Oh Bite me!”

Monster created

VF final

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein follows the tale of man’s quest to conquer mortality through the journey of Victor Frankenstein. It’s a tale of what happens when man decides to play God. Obsessed by his quest to create life from death, the original story by Shelley recounts the horror Frankenstein faces after the creation of his monster, whom he views as an instrument of evil and the ensuing battle between Frankenstein and his monster to destroy each other. Frankenstein is paranoid and does not even attempt to describe the process of creation fearing someone may use it to bring forth more evil into the world. He does not name the monster, never attempts another creation and refuses the monster’s request to create a mate for it. After the monster kills his wife, Frankenstein begins to track it down in an attempt to sleigh it. Frankenstein meets his death at the end of the novel though not by the hand of the monster and the monster on discovering that it’s “father” is dead repents for the ordeal it put Frankenstein through and takes its own life. Penny Dreadful’s version portrays Frankenstein and his monster in a different light. Frankenstein, while viewing his first creation as a mistake, goes on to successfully create a second benevolent monster whom he names Proteus, not shying away from showing us how he makes his monsters. His success is marred when his first monster makes a sudden appearance and rips the second one to shreds after finding out the whereabouts of Frankenstein whom he has been searching for. Penny Dreadful explores an alternative story in Frankenstein, showing the audiences what could have gone down if Frankenstein had taken time to understand the monster he created. In an exciting twist of events, far from killing the monster, the Season ends with Frankenstein making his monster a new bride (the dead Brona Croft) and the possibility of Frankenstein adopting a more paternal role towards his monster whose name is Caliban in the series.

Monster within

DG final

Hello Heartthrob! Is it just me or do actors playing Dorian Gray get hotter with every year that goes by? Dorian’s portrait makes a cameo appearance in Penny Dreadful but we don’t get to actually see the portrait. We get to see Dorian staring at it. Yup thanks a lot. Dorian Gray’s mannerisms reflect the Dorian we know and love best. He is young, beautiful, unchanging, self indulgent, on the lookout for new experiences (most of which seem sexual), gets bored easily and in love. Oh wait! That is new. While the original story always paints Dorian as a seductor who easily attracts the attention of both men & women, it has never really shown him to be drawn to a person. Atleast, not more than once. Enter Vanessa Ives. Dorian’s attraction to Vanessa is instant though one does not know whether that is because of Vanessa’s mysteriousness or because one who has made a deal with the devil (Dorian) recognizes someone being haunted by the devil (Vanessa). Dorian has also NEVER faced rejection in Oscar’s Wilde’s classic tale so it’s quite comical to see his perplexed expression when Vanessa tells him it’s over between them. Realising this has never happened to him before, Vanessa tells him that the sentiment he feels now is rejection. You know the worst part? Dorian manages to look hot even when he’s heartbroken, which makes every girl scream “Screw Vanessa! (Oh wait he already did), Pick me Pick me!”

Monster housed

VI Final

Along with her brash looks, quick tongue and bold manner, Vanessa Ives has the ability to communicate with demons, get visions about them and oh yes, house them. Not by her will no. Following her betrayal of her best friend Mina Murray, Vanessa’s clairvoyant abilities are unlocked and she is haunted by one whom she calls the Prince of Darkness, who keeps seducing her and asking her to join him, which she keeps refusing. Later on, we realize her body can house hosts of demons, one demon in particular who takes full advantage of this situation is the Egyptian Goddess, Amunet. Later on we come to know that Amunet plans to use Vanessa’s body as a vessel to find her one true love Amun Ra (an Egyptian God) and consummate her relationship with him. Unfortunately if she succeeds, the world ends. While we don’t know whom Amun Ra is planning to use as a vessel, it will be interesting to see if Amun Ra’s vessel turns out to be Dorian. We know Dorian struck a deal with some devil or demon, we just don’t know who. It could well be with Amun Ra which would be awesome because we know that Vanessa and Dorian are already attracted to each other. It would be two potential love stories in-acted out through a single couple. With life-threatening consequences, Yes. But who wouldn’t like to see Dorian and Vanessa get it on again, demon style?

Monster hunted

MM final

Yes Yes Yes. Season 1 is over and we are still hunting for Dracula (atleast that’s who we assume the Master Vampire is). For one familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the original story has received interesting revisions in Penny Dreadful. Jonathan Harker is not the one who goes to rescue a captured Mina, it’s her father Malcom Murray. Van Helsing who plays a prominent role in slaying Dracula in the original story meets his death early on in the TV Show at the hand of (this is where it gets funny) Frankenstein’s monster Caliban. Mina isn’t even the subject of Dracula’s affection; she is merely bait for luring Vanessa Ives to Dracula. In the original version, Lucy (Vanessa is a loose depiction of Lucy in the series) is used as bait for drawing Mina to Dracula. Mina does not get her happily ever after in Penny Dreadful, her father is forced to kill her. It’s also turning out to be a huge possibility that Dracula may not even be Dracula but Amun Ra (Dorian or Dracula, both would make awesome Amun Ra’s. This would also explain both, Dorian’s or Dracula’s continuing obsession with Vanessa). Interestingly, Amun Ra seems to be a part of Egyptian mythology, which draws a good parallel to Anne Rice’s vampire novel Queen of the Damned where she tells us that first two original vampires were an Egyptian King & Queen. So the Master Vampire in Penny Dreadful may either be Dracula OR Amun Ra OR one entity that goes by both names.

Monster hidden


Yes Ethan Chandler, I am talking to you. That you for that jaw-dropping, heart stopping moment we all realized that it’s a dog’s life for you, like literally. It’s only in the final scene of the last episode of Season 1, where Ethan reveals his wolf side that we realize that the Show has been dropping us subtle hints to this possibility all along. Before he takes up residence at the inn where he meets Brona Croft, who is dying a slow death from Consumption, Ethan is found lying facedown near the bay. You think Ethan has adopted that spot as a result of a wasted night with the bottle, not as an aftermath of his falling flat on his face after turning back from wolf to man. He is chosen by Vanessa Ives to hunt vampires and we all know that vampires and wolves are natural enemies, though Ethan is shown to have more heart than any of the Show characters. When the vampire hunting team tracks the vampire holding Mina to the London Zoo, where Vanessa thinks Mina is being kept prisoner, they are attacked by a pack of wolves. Instead of killing them, Ethan manages to calm them down and they go their own way. So you’re thinking “Aaaaw the man has a way with animals”. I feel so stupid now! The theatre play Ethan takes his girlfriend Brona for titled “Transformed Beast” coincidentally happens to be about a man transforming into a wolf. Was Ethan preparing her for the inevitable or did he just make an honest mistake? He shows no revulsion to the play, suggesting he is either comfortable with his wolfish nature or he’s sincerely facing a serious case of puppy love. Seriously with his puppy dog eyes, you feel him wagging his tail everytime he sees Brona. While he probably transforms during the full moon, since he wolfs out and attacks the men trying to capture him, it is also highly possible than he can change into his wolf form at will.

In conclusion,you can bet your money on Penny Dreadful.

Picture credits:

Penny Dreadful Group picture (http://fanart.tv/fanart/tv/265766/showbackground/penny-dreadful-537e2ef81cdfd.jpg)

Victor Frankenstein (http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/37100000/Penny-Dreadful-Wallpaper-penny-dreadful-37169525-1024-640.jpg)

Victor Frankenstein & Caliban (http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/Frankenstein_and_Caliban_Penny_Dreadful_Season_1_Episode_8.jpg)

 Caliban (http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140529090144/penny-dreadful/images/f/f3/The_Creature.jpg)

 Dorian Gray (http://www.sho.com/site/image-bin/images/1000323_1_0/1000323_1_0_prm-keyartdor_1024x640.jpg)

 Dorian Gray & Company (http://i1.wp.com/www.trashtalktv.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Penny-Dreadful-minicap-reeve-carney-and-guests-1-4.jpg)

 Dorian Gray with portrait (http://img.moviepilot.com/assets/tarantulaV2/embedded_images/dorian_1389959319.jpg)

 Vanessa Ives (http://www.sho.com/site/image-bin/images/1000323_1_0/1000323_1_0_prm-keyartvan_1024x640.jpg)

 Vanessa & Dorian (http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/37300000/Dorian-x-Vanessa-dorian-gray-and-vanessa-ives-37379029-1140-380.jpg)

 Vanessa’s Séance (http://www.geekbinge.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Penny-1.2-Seance.jpg)

 Malcom Murray (http://nerdalicious.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Penny-Dreadful-Sir-Malcolm-Murray-28-04-e1398692424609.jpg )

 Vampire (http://cdn.denofgeek.us/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/dracula_0.jpg?itok=_Wbiz-QB)

 Mina Murray & Vanessa Ives (http://cdn.culttvtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/penny-dreadful-1-3.jpg)

 Ethan Chandler (http://www.djwallpapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/PennyDreadful_05.jpg)

 Werewolf Ethan Chandler (http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/Ethan_Werewolf_Penny_Dreadful_Season_1_Episode_8.jpg)

 Ethan & Brona (http://static.wetpaint.me/tv/ROOT/photos/310/PennyDreadful1041092r-1401403849.jpg)


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