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By David Ganezer
Observer Publisher 

Bank on a Penny Dreadful Sequel, Whatever Logan or Nevins Say

Resurrection and Renewal are Continual Themes in Penny Dreadful. "Call me Cat" has 9 lives


Catriona Hartdegen: Do you fence? Vanessa Ives: Alas, no. Catriona Hartdegen: Oh, you should. It's wonderful for the mind.Every decision reduced to back and forth. Thrust or parry. A clarity forms during it that the rest of the world is sadly lacking in. Life and death without the death. Most of the time.

At the end of Season 3, Penny Dreadful appears to climax with the death of female lead Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). She concludes that she must die to save the world, and that her one love, Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) must pull the trigger.

If that weren't heartbreaking enough, in a parallel plot John Clare decides not to ask Dr. Frankenstein to resurrect his son, Jack, who like Lilly, has died of consumption.

But I digress. The point of this article is to answer the question every Penny Dreadful fan really wants to know: Will Penny Dreadful be renewed for Season 4? John Logan and Showtime President David Nevins have both said no. “I realized that’s where the third season was going to head,” Logan told Entertainment Weekly Monday. “It was going to head to Vanessa sacrificing herself and reuniting with God. . . . The only peace she could possibly have was with God, and the way to commit to that was to give herself entirely to it. And it became a sacrifice that she had to enact for the good of mankind. It was a generous act that she did in dying and going to God, as well."

Nevins said: "I would not be surprised if this show is bigger five years from now than it is now, because it just feels like the kind of show that is going to live and is going to get discovered." On the surface, he is referring to syndication, but he may also mean spinoffs, which is the subject of this article.

Logan and Nevins agree the show ended where it did solely for creative reasons. Well, if you believe that, I own a bridge across the Thames you may want to buy. TV shows live or die on economics and viewership, and yes, Penny Dreadful viewership is definitely down--Forbes reports that Penny Dreadful ranks 59th among all TV shows currently running, which is respectable. On the other hand, it no doubt costs quite a lot to keep all those actors and actresses under contract. Not to mention hundreds of film technicians, set designers, caterers, stuntmen and of course, costume designers. The production costs for all of this are high, even in Ireland.

Speaking of contracts, and yes this is thinking like a lawyer (who do you think runs Hollywood? You think you know sin, child? They wrote the bloody book on it!) Ask thyself, wouldn't it make sense to end everyone's contract, get rid of twenty or so actors connected to public domain characters, and pick up the pieces with only some of them?

Who really needs Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray anyway? Timothy Dalton is past leading man age, he may not command a heavy price, but Eva Green and Josh Hartnett certainly cost a pretty dreadful penny for 8 to 10 episodes. Not to mention Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear . . . anyway, you get it. The lawyers told the writers to put "The End" after the last scene, not the directors.

While I am not a major horror fan, I'm entranced by the Victorian beauty and haunting sadness of this 27 episode series. This article is not literary analysis; there are several really well written analyses online. One of them is by Maureen Ryan, chief TV critic for Variety Online. I'll give you the link to her piece, but here's an excerpt:

Though I have a huge amount of affection for the show, "Penny Dreadful" has always had a habit of keeping around more characters than it could adequately service, and not always following through on pairings and storylines that worked well until the show lost interest in them. It's telling that "The Nightcomers" and "A Blade of Grass" were episodes that focused tightly on a small number of characters and worked incredibly well as a result. This is a show that lives to create emotional intensity, and those episodes allowed "Penny Dreadful" to go to the tough, beautiful psychological places that, at its best, it explored with spectacular results.


My own opinion is that 1) The End, which flashed on screen during the final episode technically means the end of the series, but not all its characters. That way, no one's contract need be renewed.

2) But on the other hand, what was the point of introducing all of those characters--Patti Lupone as Dr. Seward, Renfield, Catriona Hartdegen; unless the point was another screen adaptation of late 19th Century pulp fiction?

Why tell us that Ethan and Sir Malcolm intend to live together and are family? Why bother replacing Sembene with Kaetenay, a Native American man with a connection to Ethan, who becomes an ally to Sir Malcolm? Just my humble opinion. I claim no inside information. But for the last 30 years, I have lived and worked in Santa Monica, where all these Hollywood deals are made. As the funeral scene panned right and showed us Dr. Seward standing next to Catriona and Renfield, well I did the math.

3) Expect to see a spinoff series called Penny Dreadful: The Adventures of Catriona Hartdegen, "a thanatologist scholar with expert knowledge of the supernatural, who kicks monster ass" next season. There was something about the way that this character was carefully introduced to all the other main characters, especially Ethan and Sir Malcolm, that makes me think she's more than just a peripheral guest star added on at the end.

It would star Perdita Weeks as Hartdegen, and also include Renfield and Dr. Seward. You heard it here first. I know what Logan and Nevins said, and they're probably both at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica right now, drinking an $800 bottle of wine while negotiating contract details with Showtime or Starz. Or HBO. Or Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV. . . . Hollywood has expanded a lot lately. Someone will need the high quality content and loyal fan base of a "Penny Dreadful Season 4," by whatever name.

Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler; French actress Eva Green as Vanessa Ives.

p.s. John Clare could still dig Vanessa out of her grave with his bare hands, take her to Victor Frankenstein, wait for the next lightning storm, and, presto . . . you know the rest. Just saying.

p.p.s. They burned Joan Clayton (Patti Lupone's first Penny Dreadful character) at the stake, at the end of Season 2, and she was around again this season as a different character. Resurrection and renewal are continual themes in Penny Dreadful, which took on a religious tone this season. Vanessa herself was the resurrection of Amuneth. Like Christ, Vanessa sacrificed herself to save the world. And we all know how that story turned out.

If you like Penny Dreadful, SHARE THIS ARTICLE on social media like FB and Twitter. It's more likely to get back to decision makers, that way.


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