All Penny Dreadful Season Three Reviews Now Online

Image © InsomniaTSO on DeviantArt
Image © InsomniaTSO on DeviantArt

In case you missed my original post on the subject, I’ve been writing regular recaps of Penny Dreadful for the Victorianist, a researcher blog with the British Association for Victorian Studies. After each episode, I talked readers through what we’d seen, reflected on what previous episodes and seasons had brought, and speculated on what was to come – sometimes with the help of various academic theories. This week, the last instalment (covering the two-part season three finale) went online.

You can find links to all of the posts (which obviously contain spoilers for the series) below:
Season Premiere: ‘The Day Tennyson Died’
Episode Two: ‘Predators Far and Near’
Episode Three: ‘Good and Evil Braided Be’
Episode Four: ‘A Blade of Grass’
Episode Five: ‘This World Is Our Hell’
Episode Six: ‘No Beast So Fierce’
Episode Seven: ‘Ebb Tide’
Two-Part Season Finale: ‘Perpetual Night’ and ‘The Blessed Dark’

Image © aquiles-soir on DeviantArt

Here’s a (largely) spoiler-free excerpt from my final post, to give you a taste of the review series as a whole:

For me, Penny Dreadful’s greatest success this season was the way it captured a sense of religious dread. With this I don’t mean the way it used religious figures or Christian iconography to signal a supernatural evil, though it does so in many cases. Instead, I’m talking about the way it explores themes of existential angst, and lets its viewers experience both the desire for salvation and the fear of damnation.

John Logan argued that Penny Dreadful ‘has always been about a woman grappling with God and faith’, but never did I expect this journey to be played out so literally. In previous seasons, even when it manifested itself more physically, viewers have always been allowed to read Vanessa’s faith and possession metaphorically, as a way for her to cope with the mental issues that have plagued her since her youth. We were never quite certain if Vanessa was possessed by a demon, or if she was her own demon.

Happy reading – and let me know what you thought of the show in the comments!

Earthling Cinema: Movies After the Apocalypse

Meet Garyx Wormuloid.
Meet Garyx Wormuloid.

I’ve got apocalypse on the brain this week (possibly because my subconscious is desperate to latch on to anything besides my current thesis chapter), and have also been scouring the internet for teaching aids. The Green brothers have predictably been a highly entertaining source of material, but this week the winning discovery was the YouTube channel Wisecrack. You may know Wisecrack from such gems as ThugNotes, 8-Bit Philosophy, and Pop-Psych!, but my favourite so far is definitely their film criticism series, called Earthling Cinema.

Earthling Cinema, which reminds me pleasantly of the long-cancelled TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, is not only educational and highly humorous (at least if you’re me) – it is also post-apocalyptic. In this show, Garyx Wormuloid, a heavily-eyebrowed alien played by Mark Schroeder, explains and analyses relics from a future where planet Earth is no more.

The camp and general silliness of both the sets and the premise is part of this series’ charm. As you can see from this instalment on The LEGO Movie (2014), Earthling Cinema’s retrospective look at contemporary culture and media trends also offers many delightfully sarcastic moments:

Each video is around five minutes long, and includes all the things you might expect from a post-apocalyptic educational programme. Names are intentionally mispronounced, and historical texts and details deliberately fudged. The DVD copies of the films discussed in the videos are displayed behind glass like museum pieces, and are suitably charred and aged.

Apart from the many fun, and sometimes cryptic, little touches (like the ‘Censored’ bars over people’s mouths whenever they eat on-screen), this series of videos is an enjoyable reminder of why, after my graduate degree in the humanities, I can no longer watch films uncynically. It is also a great reminder of why I don’t really mind that too much – and, above all, it’s a great exercise in alienation. What will future civilisations think of us, and of our culture?

I strongly suggest you head over to YouTube and check this series out in more detail. If you’re looking for a place to start, I can recommend these videos on The Lion King (a.k.a. Hamlet with animals; 1994) and The Hunger Games (2012):

Happy viewing, earthlings!