TV Review: Penny Dreadful Returns With Horror And Melodrama

Penny Dreadful, Showtime’s horror series returns with a new season, bringing along with it a new threat for Vanessa Ives.

After Malcolm chose to kill his dauther and save Vanessa last season, it appeared that Vanessa might just rid herself of the evil tht plagues her. As the second season opens, we find that is just not the case. Now Vanessa is being hunted by the mysterious Madame Kali, the clairvoyant from season one, and Kali’s band of witches/demons/daughters. They are creepy shapeshifting creatures and all seem to be doing the bidding of Lucifer.

Elsewhere we find Dr. Frankenstein puting the finishing touches on Caliban’s bride, only to find the great doctor having some emotional attachments of his own. With a wife on the way, Caliban does what any reanimated corpse would do: he goes in search of employment. He lands a job at a grisly wax museum, which also seems to introduce a possible love triange into his world.

Finally, Ethan, who was revealed last season as the werewolf (although we all guessed it long before), has found a reason not to run back home: protecting Vanessa. Of course, after his latest murder spree, the police are hot on the trail of the killer.

Penny Dreadful’s return is still full of the dark and sinister tone that the show is known for, however this season there appears to be another perspective along for the ride. At least as far as the premiere episode, “Fresh Hell,” Penny Dreadful has added a layer of campiness. Not a tongue in cheek, Jon Waters style campy, but the melodrama just feels cranked up to notches unknown. Eva Green, Penny Dreadful’s greatest asset, broods way more than she used to, while Helen McCrory’s Madame Kali chews up every one of her scenes. Rory Kinnear and Harry Treadaway haven’t lost a beat in their performances either, but where they ised to be the biggest source of this campy melodrama, now they just feel superfluous.

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