Showtime’s Penny Dreadful is one of my favourite series of the current decade, thanks in no small part to Eva Green’s sterling performance. I was genuinely sad when it was abruptly cancelled after three seasons, but the show lives on in the form of a spin-off: Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, and with original series creator John Logan at the helm.
It moves from Victorian England and its classic gothic horror monsters and characters to late-1930’s Los Angeles, where it draws heavily on Mexican folklore and the racial tension that existed in the city at the time. It stars Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) as a dangerous shapeshifting demon, Magda, looking to burn the city down both literally and figuratively, by enflaming the seething undercurrents of racism and intolerance within the city, particularly within and around the Mexican-American community.
Standing against her is Santa Muerte (or Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte – Our Lady of Holy Death – to give her full name), a folk saint and minor deity, who is a personification of death and is associated with healing, protection, and the safe delivery of souls to the afterlife. She’s working through an agent, LAPD Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto – Don’t Breathe), who together with his partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane – The Producers), find themselves in the centre of the conflict when they’re tasked with solving a gruesome murder.
The show’s official plot synopsis is as follows:
1938 Los Angeles is a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega and his partner Lewis Michener become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Let’s take a look:
This looks like a far more straight forward tale of good versus evil this time around with all the main players known upfront, and I’m a touch disappointed in that regard. One of Penny Dreadful’s strengths though was its flawed and compelling characters, and the way it reinterpreted many of its well-known characters, and I hope that’s the case once more.
What do you think?
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels season one will premiere on Showtime on 26 April. It also stars Adriana Barraza, Jessica Garza, Johnathan Nieves, Kerry Bishé, Michael Gladis, Brent Spiner, Lin Shaye, and Rory Kinnear (who portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in the original series).
Last Updated: March 9, 2020