Blu-ray Review: Penny Dreadful (The Final Season)

How can Showtime’s Penny Dreadful be over? After 3 seasons and merely 27 episodes the monster mash in the 19th Century arrived at an abrupt ending. Why? This is the Showtime where shows are notorious for overstaying their creative peak. There’s no need to tell you story-wise why it had to come to an end. No point in spoiling the experience. Creator John Logan said he decided to make the third season the final one in the middle of season two. The show must have been a bit of logistical nightmare with an all star cast that included Eva Green (Casino Royale), Timothy Dalton (Living Daylights), Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down) and Billie Piper (Dr. Who). You can either keep having to replace actors or bring the story to a close elegantly. Penny Dreadful: The Final Season brings an end to the nightmares on the right page.

“The Day Tennyson Died” catches up with all the characters who dispersed around the globe at the end of season two. Sir Malcolm (Dalton) has gone back to Africa on an expedition only to encounter Kaetenay (Last of the Mohicans‘ Wes Studi) who changes his travel plans. Frankenstein teams up his old college pal Dr. Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif). Together they think they can fix their attempts to play God using the inmates of an asylum. The monster is visiting the Arctic to get a sense of self. Ethan Chandler is way out West being taken back to his father (Manhunter‘s Brian Cox). Lily Frankenstein (Piper) and Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) continue their immortal romance. Vanessa begins to see an alienist (an early version of a shrink) to deal with her issues. All of this gets overshadowed by the arrival of Count Dracula in London. “Predator’s Far and Near” reveals how close one character has gotten to Dracula. Ethan escapes his hanging fate by turning into a werewolf. Does he need to be rescued by Malcolm anymore? Vanessa keeps pushing her psychological therapy to get deeper inside herself. The action is split between the Wild West and underbelly of London until the end of the season. Everything comes to a head in “The Blessed Dark,” the final episode.

Penny Dreadful lived up to its potential as it brought together all the legendary monsters, mad scientists and cursed humans of the 19th Century. The results are so much better than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The level of acting talent and quality production design kept it from being a “throw another monster in the campfire” spoof. While it is a shock when a series wraps up way short of 100 episodes, we now live in a time where this can be a benefit. The viewership will only grow for the series as future fans can easily binge watch all the Blu-ray boxsets in the course of a stormy weekend. Penny Dreadful: The Final Season plays like the third act of an engrossing long movie.

The videos is 1.78:1 anamorphic. Spring for the Blu-ray so the 1080p resolution can bring out the glory of the costumes and sets. The audio is Dolby TrueHD 7.1. The soundtrack gives the show a fine theatrical sound mix with bumps coming from all corners. The episodes are subtitled.

Hecate’s Witch Prosthetics (2:44) sets up how they made the characters beautiful and lethal. The special effects and makeup crew take 8 hours to make the actress up.

The Making of Dr. Jekyll’s Lab (2:27) explores how production designer and set decorator made the chemistry space take shape. They made the colorful liquids flow.
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Character Profiles (14:31) catches you up on all of the legendary monsters for the third season.

Vanessa’s Costumes (2:44) covers how the costume designer comes up with the looks for Eva Green.

Dead Zoo (2:44) shows how Dracula’s space is really a museum.

CBS DVD presents Penny Dreadful: The Final Season. Starring: Reeve Carney, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper & Josh Hartnett. Boxset Contents: 9 episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs. Released: October 4, 2016

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