Premium cable has long been a safe haven for envelope-pushing dramas and comedies. Networks like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax have built an entire brand out of programming that includes explicit sexuality, graphic violence and strong language. Surprisingly, horror has never been a huge genre for any of the premium networks – only HBO’s True Blood and Showtime’s Dexter come to mind, unless you’re counting Netflix, in which case Hemlock Grove would warrant a mention. Luckily, Skyfall writer John Logan is gearing up to inject Showtime with a new jolt of terrifying television, with his new period horror show Penny Dreadful.
Two EW-exclusive images from the show (one above, one below) introduce the looks of some major characters. Josh Hartnett stars as gunslinger Ethan, who arrives in Victorian London to encounter various supernatural beings we’re familiar with from such works as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Also pictured is Eva Green, playing a mysterious woman named Vanessa Ives. In addition to rocking a corset, Ives is dealing with a lot of her own demons as the series opens. The above image features Timothy Dalton, who portrays the enigmatic Sir Malcolm, and Harry Treadaway, taking on the character of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. From the looks of the image, he’s getting his start in the body shop business quite early on.
The second shot focuses on Hartnett and Green’s characters, though Dalton and another cast member I can’t quite identify make up the background:
Logan told EW that he drew inspiration from classic ’40s monster movies when crafting Penny Dreadful, which will include such famed horror figures as Dracula, Mina Harker, Van Helsing and Dorian Gray.
“I thought there was incredible excitement to slamming all those myths together so that’s what we’re embracing in Penny Dreadful,” he said. “It’s highly erotic, very bloody,” he added, elaborating that Penny Dreadful is about “building a family… Admittedly, the creepiest family you can imagine.”
On his intentions with the show, Logan said that:
“When I was first talking to [Penny Dreadful executive producer] Sam Mendes about it, the word I came up with was disturbing. It’s not enough to scare people because that’s a cheaper sensation. But to unsettle and disturb people on a deeper level because they feel familiarity with monstrous characters is really our goal.”
In addition to Hartnett, Green, Dalton and Treadaway, Penny Dreadful will star Billie Piper as Brona Croft, “an Irish immigrant trying to escape her dark past,” Rory Kinnear as something called The Creature and Helen McCrory as spiritualist Madame Kali.
Tell us, are you interested in checking out a period drama designed to send a chill down your spine, or will you give this one a pass?
Penny Dreadful premieres on Showtime sometime this spring. The Orphanage director Juan Antonio Bayona helmed the pilot.