Mendes & Logan Bringing ‘Penny Dreadful’ to Showtime
Yesterday, we ran a rumor that director Sam Mendes and screenwriter John Logan (both of them fresh off the massive success of 'Skyfall') were working on a 'Frankenstein' TV seres for Showtime. Well, it turns out that we were half right. The name of the series is 'Penny Dreadful' and while it will feature Dr. Frankenstein and his infamous creation, they will be part of an ensemble that includes other supernatural literary characters, including Dorian Gray and key figures from Bram Stoker's 'Dracula.' For fans of great comics (and/or bad movies), it should sound very, very familiar...
For the curious, the title of show is a reference to cheap, lurid books and stories that were printed in 19th century Britain, predominately for younger audiences on the lookout for sex and violence. That's a pretty great title for a horror period piece set in Victorian London and starring some of the great horror characters of all time. Here's Showtime's official press release, which is half empty hype and half "Oh-My-God-This-Sounds-Terrific" plot description:
Some of literature's most iconic figures will step into the light on SHOWTIME in PENNY DREADFUL, a psychosexual horror series created, written and executive produced by three-time Oscar(R) nominee John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) and executive produced by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and Neal Street's Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Call The Midwife), it was announced today by David Nevins, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks. PENNY DREADFUL will begin production in London in the second half of 2013.
In PENNY DREADFUL, some of literature's most famously terrifying characters - including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula - become embroiled in Victorian London. The series weaves together these classic horror origin stories as the characters grapple with their monstrous alienation. This project marks Logan and Mendes' second major collaboration, following Skyfall, their recent critically-acclaimed and box office record-breaking James Bond film, which Mendes directed and Logan co-wrote; and their first ever collaboration for television. The project will be produced by Mendes' production company Neal Street Productions.
"John Logan and Sam Mendes are two of the great storytellers of our time," said Nevins. "The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their reimagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerizing to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show."
Although certain aspects of 'Penny Dreadful' sound like a pretty direct rip-off of Alan Moore's 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' comic series (the less said about the horrid movie adaptation, the better), it's a set-up filled with all kinds of promise...but expect nerds like us to keep the comparisons coming no matter what the finished product looks like. Hey, if 'Once Upon A Time' can get away with blatantly stealing its premise from 'Fables' then 'Penny Dreadful' should at least get a shot (and there's no way it'll be as bad as 'Once Upon A Time, either).
With 'Skyfall' under their belts, Mendes and Logan are at the top of their game and probably have the power to do whatever they want. The fact that they're pursuing this project indicates that it's something that they're passionate about. Hopefully, the smart folks at Showtime will stand back and let these guys do what they want to do -- $1 billion at the box office suggests that they know what they're doing.