The production brought together classic elements of Gothic literature
One of the most interesting works to have emerged in the comic book industry in the past was published in 1999, signed by eccentric author Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Art: The Extraordinary League. Its basic premise was the bringing together of some of the most famous names in English literature (preferably in the Gothic style, but this factor was not imperative).
The idea to create such a group arose from a secret initiative of the British government, which included Campion Bond (ancestor of the famous agent created in the books of Ian Fleming) to assemble a team to recover an artifact stolen by Fu Manchu. According to Moore himself, the idea to create the series arose out of a brainstorm between him and O’Neill about who his favorite characters in literature were.
Therefore, when they are transposed into the text, these personalities undergo certain deconstructions to adapt to the envisaged plot, Allan Quatermain (a kind of precursor of Indiana Jones) being the most notorious example of deconstruction. In 2003, a film adaptation was made with Sean Connery as the big star; production that has become synonymous with how not to approach a comic book for the big screen.
The team concept will be forgotten until 2013, when screenwriter John Logan began developing the project for what would be a new drama set in Victorian England and involving fantastic elements of literature. In the words of Showtime Channel president David Nevins to Deadline reporter Nellie Andreeva: “Logan has been obsessed with literary monsters since he was a child.
The name of the project, Penny Dreadful, refers to a style of Victorian literature that is more accessible (hence also considered to be of poor quality) for the working class, which normally presented very short mysterious stories and was produced with cheap materials. . Its posting style followed a serialized format, meaning that a new chapter was released every week.
The early 2010s were very positive for the screenwriter, as his work on Operation Skyfall was widely praised. Also joining him in the project was Sam Mendes, a renowned Hollywood director, as producer; the duo had until then been in charge of the franchise starring Daniel Craig in theaters.
The cast also had famous names in their centerpieces, including Eva Green (another who was oddly involved in universe 007) in the most central role, followed by Timothy Dalton (who was James Bond twice in 1987 and 1989) and a former rising name in American cinema, Josh Hartnett.
The premise of the new series closely resembled Volume I of Alan Moore’s story; in Victorian England, a mysterious woman must assemble a group of eccentric personalities to complete a mission. In Penny Dreadful’s case, that job is to track down Sir Malcolm’s missing daughter (Dalton’s character) nicknamed Mina, the name referring to the group’s leader in the comics.
Along with them, the production also features a younger version of Victor Frankenstein, as well as a recreation of his monster (who mostly wants to know if he really has a soul) and the immortal Dorian Gray.
Despite all the similarities between the two materials, neither of the cast in the show ever assumed a connection to the comics. Whether it’s an adaptation or not, the show can easily stand on its own feet, providing a build of an atmosphere that remains real (in the 19th century London aesthetic) to some extent, however, with the feeling that any supernatural event that may occur is entirely believable.
Over its three seasons, the series garnered 91 multi-award nominations and 16 wins, many of which touched on technical aspects such as Eva Green’s appearance and the lead role. The end of the program came in 2017, after a decision that would have come from John Logan himself, in which it was the right time to end.
The series would also receive a spin-off called City of Angels with new characters and new settings. The company, however, only had one season before it was canceled.
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