Penny Dreadful, Suckerpunch and the joys of there not being crap on TV now

Is it me or has TV deteriorated even more of late? For a while it was a bastion of creativity exceeding film–Rome, Game of Thrones, Hell on Wheels … some great stuff, mostly from the pay channels. Now, Doctor Who isn’t doing it for me, and I can’t watch more than an episode of the latest Supernatural, Falling Skies or Continuum or whatever without going *meh*. I’ve been re-watching my DVDs instead and catching up on series I missed. Here’s two of my great finds.

  1. Penny Dreadful

I liked season 1 enough to tune back in, but season 2 is where it comes into its stride. I had a whole season to catch up on, and there’s nothing better than having a marathon of a good show. Vanessa Ives was always my favorite character and it was hard to say why she was so compelling until this season – wow. She is a surprise. I’ve always pictured a curvier Eva Green would make a great Eva Thorne (*cough* minor book plug there), but by the end of this season I knew she was the one.

Both characters seem fragile, the damsel to be rescued at times, and when they try to show strength and bravado you’re not really too sure even they believe it. Then BAM! they surprise you. I won’t spoil the series if you haven’t seen it, but I’d like to highlight “Nightcomers” which was my favorite episode so far. Finally, some back story for Vanessa that makes me realize why I love her so much. It was all about her too. As much as ensemble casts are all the rage (i.e. Game of Thrones), I prefer an intimate character tale and this episode was it for me. Where did she get those pseudo-tarot cards? Why does she seem wiser than she lets on? What’s with those bloody scorpion signs? All explained and well worth the wait!


s2e3 Nightcomers suckerpunch


2. SuckerPunch

This movie gets rotten tomatoes, but that just shows you how stupid critics are. I loved it first viewing, and my *critic* husband finally came around recently. The film is mind-blowing, imaginative, beautifully filmed and full of poignant subtext and symbolism overlooked in the explosions and sword fights. It starts like an epic music vid with a cover of “Sweet Dreams” and more beautiful music vid scenes play throughout.

I also love the narrative voice over at the start about angels (I’m a sucker for narrative voice over), and it’s not until the end you realize what it means. The juxtaposition of how powerless these girls are – they are insane, full of remorse, at the mercy of people who want to lobotomize them – with the story they tell themselves about dancing and high rollers (an imagined world layered on top of the dingy hospital ward) juxtaposed yet again with the full blown imagination of Baby Doll and the team battling giants, dragons and armies of undead Nazis … the sheer power of their will and inner being is realized in those action dreams. And when the movie returns to the final, hard reality in the end it’s even more poignant.

I got it. I liked it. Give it a try.

Thanks for reading! More posts on books, film, and writing can be found on my website at Lorel Clayton Author.

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