Penny Dreadful (TV series)

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Penny Dreadful
Penny Dreadful title card.jpg
Created by John Logan
Written by John Logan
Directed by
Composer(s) Abel Korzeniowski
Country of origin
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) James Flynn
Morgan O'Sullivan
Editor(s) Bernat Vilaplana
Jaume Marti
Location(s) Dublin, Ireland
Cinematography Xani Gimenez
Running time 47–59 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Neal Street Productions
  • Desert Wolf Productions
Original channel Showtime
Original run May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11) – present
External links
Official website
Production website

Penny Dreadful is a British-American horror TV series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes.

The show was originally pitched to several US and UK channels, and eventually landed with Showtime,[1] with Sky Atlantic as co-producer. It premiered at the South by Southwest film festival on March 9 and began airing on television on April 28, 2014 on Showtime OnDemand.[2] The show premiered on the Showtime channel on May 11, 2014.[3][4] The first two episodes of the series were both available on demand before the respective episodes were broadcast over the air.[2]

The title refers to the penny dreadfuls, a type of 19th-century cheap British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter. The series draws upon many public domain characters from 19th-century Irish and British fiction, including Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mina Harker and Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

On June 4, 2014, Showtime renewed Penny Dreadful for a ten-episode second season to air in 2015.[5]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, a confident, entrancing, yet lonely, self-isolating man who cannot die.[6]
  • Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray,[7] a hardened explorer of the African continent, on a deeply personal quest[8] to find his kidnapped daughter Mina.[9]
  • Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, an enigmatic, composed, driven heroine who ignores zeitgeist and proves herself a force to be reckoned with.[10]
  • Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler, a charming, brash, daring American man of action with uncanny marksmanship, who detests violence and is more complicated than he likes to admit.[10]
  • Rory Kinnear[11] as Caliban, a reanimated corpse brought to life and abandoned by Frankenstein who tracks down his creator and demands that Frankenstein create a mate for him.
  • Billie Piper as Brona Croft, an Irish immigrant seeking to escape her brutal past.[12]
  • Danny Sapani as Sembene, a long-time ally of Sir Malcolm with a mysterious persona.[13]
  • Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein,[14] an arrogant young man whose whole life revolves around his research.
  • Simon Russell Beale as Ferdinand Lyle, an eccentric Egyptologist. (season 2, recurring season 1)[13][15]
  • Helen McCrory as Madame Kali, a spiritualist. (season 2, recurring season 1)[13][16]

Recurring cast[edit]

  • Olivia Llewellyn as Mina Harker, Sir Malcolm's daughter and Vanessa's childhood friend who has been abducted.
  • Hannah Tointon as Maud Gunneson, an actress and the object of Caliban's affection.
  • Gavin Fowler as Simon, Maud's partner who mistreats Caliban.
  • Olly Alexander as Fenton, a minion of vampires.
  • Alun Armstrong as Vincent Brand, the leader of a troupe of actors in residence at the Grand Guignol.[11]
  • Alex Price as Proteus, a second creation of Frankenstein's.
  • David Warner as Abraham Van Helsing, a doctor and a colleague of Frankenstein.
  • Robert Nairne as The Vampire, an ancient, deadly and unfathomably evil creature who leads a cabal of lesser undead and has abducted Mina Harker.

Production and development[edit]

In January 2013, it was announced that Showtime had made a series commitment for the project. Logan and Mendes previously wrote and directed Skyfall, respectively. Production began in London in the second half of 2013. Showtime president David Nevins stated that the tone of the ensemble series will be "very realistic and very grounded, not Bela Lugosi. All exist in human form in turn-of-century London." This was also reflected during production of the sound for the show, where Logan would often pull things back towards more realism.[17] Logan, a lifelong fan of literary monsters, wrote the project on spec and will script every episode of the series. It was intended that Mendes would direct episodes, but scheduling prevented this.[18][19]

In May 2013, Juan Antonio Bayona announced that he would be working on the series as director, with production commencing in September 2013.[20] Bayona directed the first two episodes of the first season, which consisted of eight episodes.[19] Episodes 3 and 4 will be directed by Irish director Dearbhla Walsh,[21] episodes 5 & 6 by Coky Giedroyc[22][23] and episodes 7 & 8 by James Hawes.[24]

In March 2013, it was announced that the series would be filmed in the United Kingdom; eyeing the new UK tax credit for high-end TV productions that offers a 25% rebate.[25] However, it was reported in August that production would instead take place in Bray's Ardmore Studios and other locations around Dublin, Ireland, because of the country's section 481 tax incentives. Filming began on 7 October and lasted 5 months.[26] Reports indicate that the change was made as no stage space of a sufficient caliber was available due to the filming of major motion pictures in London.[27]

In December 2013, Showtime announced its first-ever production blog for a series with the launch of The Penny Dreadful Production Blog. The venue gives viewers an online, behind-the-scenes look at the series' production from its early stages of filming in Ireland through the end of the first season, featuring interviews with cast and crew. The blog has its own website and the videos will also be released on YouTube.[28]

On February 14, 2014, Showtime released the first official full-length trailer for the series.[29]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 8 May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11) June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29)
2 10[30] 2015 (2015) TBA


Critical reception[edit]

Penny Dreadful has received positive reviews from critics, with a Metacritic rating of 71 out of 100 based on 37 reviews.[31] It holds a 79 percent "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.4 out of 10, based on 52 reviews.[32]


The series debuted to 872,000 viewers (1.44 million including re-runs). This number does not include the 900,000 viewers who previewed the series on Showtime on Demand and the Showtime app.[33]


The series won a Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series.[34]

Year Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
2014 4th Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series Penny Dreadful Won
19th Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Genre Pending
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Eva Green Pending
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Rory Kinnear Pending

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sam Mendes to direct vampire TV series? | The List
  2. ^ a b "Penny Dreadful: On Demand". Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ Reiher, Andrea (January 16, 2014). "'Penny Dreadful,' 'Nurse Jackie' and 'Californication' get premiere dates". Zap2It. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ SXSW Schedule: Penny Dreadful
  5. ^ Miller, Thomas. "Showtime Renews Penny Dreadful". Seat42f.Com. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (August 26, 2013). "Spider-Man '​s Reeve Carney Nabs Key Role in Showtime's Penny Dreadful (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "PENNY DREADFUL: SIR MALCOLM MURRAY". Production Blog. SHO. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  8. ^ Timothy Dalton Joins Showtime's 'Penny Dreadful'
  9. ^ "Night Work". Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  10. ^ a b Goldberg, Leslie (July 30, 2013). "Eva Green, Josh Hartnett to Star in Showtime's Penny Dreadful". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Penny Dreadful: A New Narrative". 
  12. ^ Rigby, Sam (August 20, 2013). "Billie Piper cast in Showtime's Penny Dreadful". Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Rigby, Sam (September 16, 2013). "Penny Dreadful: Helen McCrory, Simon Russell Beale join cast". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (September 9, 2013). "Showtime Horror Drama Penny Dreadful Casts its Frankenstein". Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ Greene, Andy. "'Penny Dreadful' SDCC 2014 Panel: Season 2 Will Feature a Human Antagonist". Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Greene, Andy. "'Penny Dreadful' SDCC 2014 Panel: Season 2 Will Feature a Human Antagonist". Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Andersen, Asbjoern (June 30, 2014). "Creating the haunting, sinister sound of ‘Penny Dreadful’". Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 12, 2013). "It's Official: Showtime Lands Horror Drama From 'Skyfall's John Logan & Sam Mendes". Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Chitwood, Adam (June 18, 2013). "Juan Antonio Bayona to Direct Sam Mendes and John Logan’s Showtime Horror Series PENNY DREADFUL". Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  20. ^ Connelly, Brendon (June 13, 2013). "The Orphanage's JA Bayona To Direct Sam Mendes And John Logan's Penny Dreadful". Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  21. ^ Prediction: Penny Dreadful will be the best series of 2014
  22. ^ PJ Dillon, Director of Photography
  23. ^ pj dillon: latest news
  24. ^ Owen McPolin News
  25. ^ Curtis, Chris (25 March 2013). "Tax breaks to bring Showtime's Penny Dreadful to UK". Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  26. ^ Cronin, Kevin (August 20, 2013). "Penny Dreadful, Set to Film in Ireland, Adds Billie Piper to Cast". IFTN. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  27. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (September 30, 2013). "Hollywood Pics Pack UK Soundstages As Space Crunch Starts To Squeeze". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  28. ^ Showtime Launches 'Penny Dreadful' Production Blog
  29. ^ Showtime Releases Full-Length Trailer for 'Penny Dreadful' (Video)
  30. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (June 4, 2014). "Showtime renews 'Penny Dreadful' for an expanded second season". HitFix. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Penny Dreadful : Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Penny Dreadful : Season 1 (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Penny Dreadful - Awards and nominations". IMDb. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]