Friday, April 29, 2016

091: Penny Dreadful Seasons 1 & 2 - Sexy Werewolves

SPOILERS FOR PENNY DREADFUL SEASONS 1 & 2 (and minor spoilers for Season 3).

In this episode:
  • In anticipation of the new season, we discuss the first two seasons of Showtime's Gothic horror series Penny Dreadful, including the overall style of the show, the characters, the cast, and yes, werewolves, potentially of the sexy variety.
  • We (read: Ian) can't escape talking about this show without comparing it to a variety of other media, including NBC's Dracula, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Walking Dead, and yes, Hannibal, among others.
  • How unrelenting bleakness can become wearying
    • I think we should also clarify that this isn’t a blanket critique of all bleak narratives. I think we’re just inundated with them at the moment. There’s also a very troubling association in pop culture at the moment of bleakness with maturity, as though any story without a bleak philosophy is somehow childish, which I think is more what we’re criticizing here.
  • The snails return. The Snailening
  • Novel class returns. The Novelening. The Robertsoning.
  • We start digging into the way narratives that are attempting to tell different types of stories can show us two wildly different facets of a character with each interpretation being an equally valid expression of the character.
  • Just as an aside: We're approaching our 100th episode! We have ideas planned out for the next few episodes, but is there anything in particular you'd want to see/hear us do for the 100th episode? Let us know in the comments below or through one of our various forms of contact on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook
  • Holy crap, we didn't even talk about how much I (Ian) love the music on this show. In particular: Dido's Lament ("When I am laid in earth") from Dido and Aeneas is my favorite aria I learned about in college, and THEY USED IT.
  • Highlights from Fio's notes:
    • I’m honestly curious how many times we reference Hannibal in episodes that are, like, explicitly not about Hannibal.
    • In the Era of Dystopian Future Literature and Apocalyptic Stuff should be a book of essays.
    • “I wouldn’t advise them,” so fucking magnanimous, Fio, of course the Penny Dreadful writing staff listens to this podcast.
    • At this point in the podcast I go silent because I’m looking up 40 Days and 40 Nights because I can’t remember if Shannyn Sossamon is in it or not. She is, by the way.
    • “I’m positive, actually” *proceeds to be wrong* “Fuck. Fuck me.”


  1. A while back you said you were going to do an episode on The Witch. Is that still going to happen? I thought it was quite good (as is Green Room, though not as good as Saulnier's previous Blue Ruin).

    1. Yes--life worked against us, though, and neither of us were able to see while it was in theaters, so we're going to have to wait until it's available through a streaming service or on Blu-Ray before we can do it.

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  3. Any chance you guys will discuss Brian de Palma's "The Phantom of the Paradise," co-starring and with songs by Paul Williams?

  4. Is it weird that I'm showing up lo, these many moons later to provide information about the Hounds of God? It probably is, but I'm doing it anyway. That comes from a werewolf trial in...I want to say 17th-century somewhereSlavic, but I could be wrong on that. Peter Thiess' werewolf trial was unique in that he both proudly confessed, and claimed he turned into a wolf to fight *against* the devil, rather than on his behalf. Neil Gaiman didn't make it up. Somebody probably already told you this, so my comment is late, redundant, and socially awkward. Haaaaaaaaaaay.

    1. And here we are (well, here I am), showing up several moons later to thank you, because I am a lazy ass and did not pursue the matter further after this podcast. And no one else approached us, so yeah--thank you! That's a fascinating bit of history behind it. :)

      - Ian

  5. I don't think of Penny Dreadful as being "horror", because it rarely aims to be scary even while it uses some elements of existing horror novels/films. And I don't really consider it even a pastiche of Victorian horror literature either, because Frankenstein is from 1818 whereas Dracula is from 1897 (the same year as H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man) and Larry Talbot from Universal's 1941 film The Wolf Man isn't even a literary character. Frankenstein's "Bride" is never born in the novel and known today due to the film of the same name. The one character who isn't a Universal monster is Dorian Gray, perhaps included because he was in the film adaption of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (although not the original comic).