Penny Dreadful spin-off will be a brand new beginning and that’s a good thing


The reaction to the Penny Dreadful follow-up series starting over in a new time period has drawn polarizing reactions from fans of the original, but I believe a fresh start could be just what the series needs.

When the Penny Dreadful sequel series was announced by Showtime I admit I was excited to see more tales from the dark corners of the 19th century and I was a little disappointed to find out that wouldn’t be the case.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is actually the best decision Showtime could have made. The third season of Penny Dreadful was already a massive dip in quality over the first two seasons, although I still enjoyed it, but there were several plot-lines audiences didn’t like. Namely, the separation of Vanessa and Ethan as Ethan went on a Western side-trip to America removing him from the main action. Dracula’s arrival was highly anticipated and while some aspects of his storyline were excellent, many fell flat.

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Then came the ultimate betrayal, at least for me, in Vanessa Ives death in the finale. I was upset by her death because she had spent her entire life suffering. While I didn’t expect her to get a happy ending I didn’t want her to die and render her entire journey a pointless exercise in misery.

Yes, an argument can be made Vanessa found peace through her death but I think that is lazy writing. To pour salt on the wound, her death came at a time when television was being criticized for how often women are killed off in their shows.

No matter what form the show comes back, it will be different.

If Penny Dreadful were to come back as it was, set in the same time period with the same characters, it would be a completely different show anyways. Vanessa was the focal point of the first three seasons and unless the showrunners decided to revive her, they would have to restructure the entirety of the story regardless.

When a main character dies, sometimes the series dies with it. Penny Dreadful had a great supporting cast of characters and often times could be mistaken for an ensemble show but Vanessa was still the heart of the story. Without its heart, bringing it back would be like beating a dead horse.

While there may be changes on-screen, off-screen things remain the same.

Even though we’ll be seeing a whole new cast of characters, behind-the-scenes, little has changed. John Logan, who created, wrote, and executive produced the original series will be returning in the same capacity. Joining him as executive producer is Kidding’s Michael Aguilar.

Logan returning in the same role as creator is great news for The Dreadfuls since it means we’re more likely to get a show at the same caliber in quality as the first. Not only is John Logan due to return but Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris will also be executive producing once again. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will be in the hands of Desert Wolf Productions and Neal Street Productions, sound familiar? It should. They produced the original series.

We don’t have to worry about a newcomer uprooting the essence of Penny Dreadful, the spirit of the show will remain the same. Though we will be getting a bit of fresh blood with Aguilar’s involvement, but overall, the spin-off is in safe hands.

There hasn’t been any rumors of troubled pre-production, showrunner shake-ups, or creative differences, the spin-off is coming from the same place the first Penny Dreadful originated from and I take that as a very good sign.

A difference in setting creates opportunity for exciting new stories and mythology.

We’re living in the golden era of television. Anthologies and spin-off series are the new normal and they’re something to be embraced, not feared.

Penny Dreadful focused on famed literary characters in Victorian England during the 19th century. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will focus on Mexican-American folklore in 1938 Los Angeles. The spin-off series will address real sociopolitical themes and issues from the time period.

The Spanish deity, Santa Muerte, will play a big role in the first season. Mexican-Catholicism is resolute in its admonishment of her worship given her status as the personification of death but she is a vital part of the iconography, immersed in Mexican culture and still greatly revered to this day.

It is unknown if Santa Muerte will be an antagonistic presence in the series, as she is not necessarily perceived as evil and in fact, a symbol of protection, it is all a matter of perception likely to be decided by the characters and audience alike.

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Penny Dreadful was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards during its three-season run, City of Angels certainly has some big shoes to fill but here’s hoping it can follow in its predecessor’s footsteps.

The release date of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is currently unknown but the series is expected to start production this year.

Were you a fan of the original Penny Dreadful? Do you plan on watching the spin-off? If you’re part of “The Dreadfuls” let us know all your thoughts in the comments!