A Conversation for Ask h2g2
Anyone watched "Penny Dreadful"? Anyone watched "City of Angels"?
Hoovooloo Started conversation 5 Weeks Ago
My wife and I binged "Penny Dreadful". It was superb. Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Ethan Hawke, Rory Kinnear, Harry Treadaway. It was exciting, fascinating, heartbreaking and riveting. It was "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", done right on TV (i.e. a number of different out-of-copyright characters colliding in Victorian London).
This year, there's been a show called "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels".... and I'm baffled by it.
First of all: Penny Dreadful? Why? It has absolutely no connection to the original three-season run. No characters in common, no similarity of tone, no similarity of style or cinematography. Rory Kinnear is in it, yes, and John Logan wrote it, yes, but beyond that and a couple of tiny cameos, it's a completely new story in a new universe. It's set in 1938 in America, so the title makes no sense AT ALL in a cultural context. "Pulp Fiction" was presumably already taken, though.
But we watched it anyway. I honestly wish I hadn't.
First of all: so. Much. Dancing. It's supposed to be a fantasy thriller, but the sheer amount of time I was required to watch the characters dancing was infuriating. Characters danced in the original PD, but invariably there was dialogue and a point to it, and at the end the plot had moved on. Here, there are just endless dull boring shots of people just... dancing. For ages.
The plot meanders and even though I've seen the end of the first season, it's no spoiler to say I have no more idea what is going on or why than I did after the first five minutes.
I actively don't care about the main character or his family, who are presided over by a matriarch who comes across as an absolute nightmare to be around.
The show wears its politics on its sleeve, and the producers must have been absolutely ecstatic at the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath, because it makes the show look absolutely on the nail for the current moment. I mean, it IS, but in the wake of the recent BLM protests I think it's actually in questionable taste to be THIS on the nose.
The other problem I have with it is the apparent message.
SPOILERS follow, so if you're interested in watching it unspoiled, stop here.
Right: some of the apparent positions this programme espoused shocked me, coming out of the generally snowflake-lefty-liberal bubble that is LA in 2020.
For instance: Nazis aren't so bad. One of the main characters is a *literal* Nazi, a doctor. He's portrayed sympathetically by Rory Kinnear. Over the course of the show, he comes to believe that Nazi ideology may not be the best way forward for the world. HE IS THEN SHOWN TO BE WRONG, and comes to realise that his compassion is weakness and that the Nazi way is best.
Also: do not under any circumstances trust a Jew. One of the main characters is a corrupt police officer who is also Jewish. He has close contacts with Jewish gangsters and uses those contacts to get things done. At first, he is made to appear heroic, but this is misdirection. He *appears* to be trying to protect a young physicist from being suborned by the Nazis... but what he's actually doing is just trying to counter the Nazis' plans to get hold of technology the young man is working on. He cares NOTHING for the young man in question, to the point that in the final episode he decides, on the spot and as a result of a short conversation, to take the young man to one side and execute him. His Jewish gangster friend and Hispanic partner stand by and allow this. It's horrific.
Apart from the general predictable plotting, the incredibly on-the-nose ooh-look-he's-talking-about-Trump dialogue and some pretty ropy acting in some cases, this kind of anti-Semitic stereotyping seems like the sort of thing you shouldn't be able to get away with in 2020. I'm amazed it got made.
It's a travesty of a show. I'd be interested to know if anyone else had the same reaction.
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