‘Penny’ for her thoughts

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By: Kaitlin McKay, Columnist

It’s the last issue for this year, and I’ll be graduating at the end of the year. So sadly, this will also be the last column for “Renting at the Reels.” Thank you guys so much for reading “Renting at the Reels,” it’s been an awesome year.

“Penny Dreadful” takes places in Victorian England, where famous 19th century British literary characters all live in the same universe, including Dracula and his army of vampires, Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. At the center of “Penny Dreadful” is Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), a medium with extraordinary supernatural powers and Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) who search desperately to find Malcolm’s missing daughter, Mina (Olivia Llewellyn) – the same Mina from Bram Stoker’s Dracula – who had been kidnapped by a group of vampires with the help of American gunslinger, Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett). 

I’m not exactly sure how to feel about “Penny Dreadful.” It’s not “bad,” per se, but it’s not great, either. It’s incredibly serious, so anything silly in the show just seems… well, even sillier: the most notable being just the physical appearance of Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney).

Everyone in “Penny Dreadful,” for the most part, look like they’re from the 1890s, where the show takes place… except for Dorian, with his 2010s hair cut, his shirt that’s constantly buttoned down, and a necklace that looked like it was bought at Claire’s to complete his “sexy, Victorian England” Halloween costume.

It seems picky of me to spend so much time on Dorian’s appearance, but I can’t help it when the show insists on developing a romantic relationship between him and Vanessa, when the two actors have zero romantic or sexual chemistry.

But for every silly moment (most are NSFW, so I unfortunately can’t go into detail about them in this column), there’s a genuine, awesome plot twist. One at the end of the second episode took me by so much surprise that I shouted “No way!” multiple times for a few minutes before I eagerly devoured the next episode.

Another plot twist at the end of the last episode made Ethan, a previously boring character, into someone interesting. The best thing about Ethan’s plot twist is that even though it is genuinely shocking when revealed for the first time, it is that when looking back throughout the first season, the plot twist was foreshadowed in multiple episodes, so it doesn’t come off as a cheap, M. Night Shyamalan plot twist that was made up on the spot.

As far as the acting is concerned, everyone is solid, but Green is obviously the stand out performance. Green is born to play the beautiful, mysterious, but troubled female leads, but she still keeps it fresh as Vanessa, who knows her faults, but doesn’t feel the need to change who she is.

The first season of “Penny Dreadful” is short – only eight episodes – so if you’re in the mood to binge watch it in time to catch up to the second season, it should be fairly painless. “Penny Dreadful” is a mixed bag, but it’s still fairly entertaining.

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